Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Buongiorno - Venice, Italy

Venice. A place we've had on our travel list for awhile. A place we wanted to see for ourselves.

We flew into Bologna because flights were cheap (thanks Ryan Air) and took the train from Bologna to Venice. 30 euro a ticket and 2 hours later - we arrived to the train station in Venice in the early afternoon. No map, no intention of getting a map - we head out to try to find our hotel near the Rialto Bridge.
Rialto Bridge
Since we've never been, we made the rookie mistake and stayed in the touristy area. The pro, easy to find our hotel - the con, easy to find yourself smoothed in tourists. Our recommendation would be to not let the location of a hotel in Venice detour you from staying there, the city is easy to walk and the best places truly are off the beaten path.

Our opinion of the city - if you are planning on honeymooning here - don't. It was on our list of potential places (we ended up in the Amalfi - much better choice) and we suggest not to because there are so many people, even in the off season - it loses the romantic mystery you dream of. It is better suited for anniversaries or your average European vacation.

That said, the concept of Venice is amazing. Endless canals and streets that go nowhere - yet everywhere. The best streets are the ones less traveled. On these streets you will find boat makers creating beautiful boats - not for the crowds but for the beauty of hand crafted boats. You will find families - enjoying an evening in their local square. You will find why people can fall in love with Venice.
Hand making boats off a side canal

Always a good idea to stop for a refreshment

Fresh fruit and veggie stands
People always say, when you go to Venice forget the map. I kind of agree - it is nice to know the different neighborhoods because each is different but at the same time, once in those neighborhoods - forget the map - get lost.

Our favorite night, we ended up with a bottle of wine, cheese, parma ham and fruit - sitting on a dock overlooking the Grand Canal. Perfecto. We tried lots of restaurants but this was by far our favorite meal out.  No other guests dining here, just two lovers watching the boats pass by - city lit up. Nothing beats watching the happenings of a city as you sit observing the motion of a place.

View from our private dock - wine & cheese with an amazing view

After dinner we walked to our view to see it up close - Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
We ended up coming across this really cute art gallery at the end of a little ally that night. Enrico Orlando Martina is the artist. He has amazing pieces and even came down to chat with us even though it was late. He showed us his different techniques and chatted with us awhile about Poland. If you can find it - I recommend paying his studio a visit: Calle Larga XXII Marzo 2081 San Marco, 30124 Venezia
To say it was our favorite place - it wasn't. There were too many people, a little too expensive and not sure it is the Venice it once was. But you will find the city is beautiful, the endless canals intriguing and to see a top travel destination with your own eyes - priceless.


Go. Form your own opinions. Maybe just stay away in the summer months.

The end of Venice
Travelers Tips: We weren't sure where to stay in Venice and ends up, the city really is easy to walk and the best parts really are in the less traveled areas. For us, our hotel was in an amazing central location just off the Rialto Bridge so able to find it no problem - but the price was also just right for our travel budget. All depends on what you are looking for so if you find a hotel off the main areas - consider it. However, if you find a hotel and it fits your ideal cost and amenities - but not sure of the location - as long as it is on the island of Venice - you should book it. Our next visit - we will stay further away from the central locations.

Also, if you are looking to save on costs taking the train, see the time difference between a local train and the fast train. We bought 2 tickets on the local train back - only added 45 minutes to our journey and saved a ton of money. 

The local train from Venice to Bologna

Our Two Cents:

Venice: Trattoria Bandierette: They could have cared less if we were there 
Venice: St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco): You have to see it - but don't have to spend much time here 
Venice: Grand Canal: Sit and absorb
Venice: Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto): Packed but Pretty
Venice: Al Merca: Cute place for a glass of wine and snack
Venice: Naranzaria: Can't get dinner till 7:30
Venice: Cantina Do Mori: Cute Wine and Tapas Bar

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