Repubblica di Venezia
When I started the process of going through all of the photos from our trip, I honestly could not have picked a favorite city. But now having gone through almost all of them, it turns out, Venice was by far the most memorable, if not my absolute favorite city. I don't know if it was the view from our rooftop flat, kayaking through the inner waterways of the city or the late night waltzing to dueling quintets in the Piazza San Marco... but Venice stuck with me, with us, and I hope we can go back one day and experience the magic again.
The journey to Venezia was an early morning drive, along winding roads from Lake Como to Milan, then aboard a 2 hour train across Italia and opening up to the Stazione di Venezia St. Lucia. Once we reached the outside port it was like a movie... similar to the effect NYC has on first time visitors. So many bodies moving in a hundred different directions; some fast some slow, coming & going, frustrated and in awe. It was simply breathtaking.
*Just to clear the air about Venice having a certain, stink.......it doesn't, at least not while we were there. Yes I'm sure there are parts that might but that was not the overwhelming first impression I got or even while we were exploring.*
Moving on... We hopped on a water taxi, by far the easiest & most affordable way to get from one clustered area to the next, and followed our AirBNB's detailed directions (aka. photo scavenger hunt with directional clues - seriously it's a miracle we found the place). We finally made it to the building to climb 4 flights of stairs, accompanied by our suitcases (luckily we opted for carry-on size), and were welcomed into the flat with open arms and glasses of water (no ice... they don't do ice water). The view was picturesque and the apt was exactly what we needed.
After freshening up we hit the cobble stone streets and got lost in the maze that is Venezia. We found Piazza San Marco with the dueling quintets, grabbed some lunch and made our way down to the main waterway to look at the gondolas and gorgeous wooden boats that turned out to be water taxis. We spent the rest of the afternoon weaving in and out of alley ways, centuries old churches and little vino cafes. The most perfect, fly by the seat of your pants day to kick of our first day in Venice.
The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn to make our way over to Certosa Island. I had not heard that San Marcos at sun rise was the absolute best time to see the square so that was an added bonus as we made our way to the water taxi. Through a bit of trial and error we made it to Certosa and prepared for our 4 hour kayaking trip through the canals with Kayak Venice. Unfortunately I only have one photo because I didn't have my camera as you get pretty soaked and our guides camera was out of commission but I HIGHLY recommend seeing the city this way if you are up for it. I literally have no upper body strength and I was able to keep up with the guide and my husband, so you can too! It was such a random find but it was money well spent and something we will never forget. Our guide took us through the smaller water ways and gave us a brief history lesson on the original Venetian families and the crests that are still on the bridges today. He also snuck us in to the Arsenale area which is where the build huge ships still today. After a brief history lesson, we crossed the major channel and made our way back to headquarters where the tour guide gave us a few non-touristy restaurants to try that evening. We ended up taking it easy the rest of the day and called it an early night... we were still a bit jet-lagged and wanted our clocks to be adjusted for the following days explorations.
Our final day in Venice was completely up in the air. We were told to download the Rick Steves Travel app (best decision we made in terms of free tours - Thanks B!!) so we spent the morning listening and walking the tours in Venice. San Marco's Square, Frari Church, the Grande Canal... all things we wouldn't have learned the history on had it not been for that app... seriously though, download when traveling. I could go on and on about the intricacies of the churches we saw and the way the city was built with the numerous Piazza's but I'd rather just show you in the photos below. We found a sweet little spot for dinner and then made our way back to the thoroughfare to take one last stroll at dusk along the waterway with Bellini and Peroni in hand.
Venice, it turns out was my most memorable city we visited and I can't wait to go back one day. Until next week!
Ciao - Lane