Venezia

Italy, Venice

My family’s trip to Venice. Stories, photos, and bucket list successes. 


Summer 2010

Venice. Venice. I suddenly stepped out of the real world and into a painting. This city is most definitely one of, if not the, most beautiful places I have ever been. By far my favorite place in Italy.

Grand Canal, from the Gondola

Grand Canal, from the Gondola

Canalside buildings

Canalside buildings

Watercolor painted skies and star-strewn canals.

Venician Sky

Venician Sky

Glass blowers and Venetian mask shops lined the cobbled streets. Each bridge was more regal than the last, and potted plants perched in windowsills dangled their leaves down from high above the water.

Strolling through Venice

Strolling through Venice

Arriving in the city was a sudden breath of fresh air. Our previous stays in Italy (Rome, Florence, Naples) had been beyond lovely, but the air was constantly thick with cigarette smoke, exhaust from cars, or on rare occasions, sewage or sulfur. All of these were made hundreds of times worse by the Italian summer heat and humidity.

Venice was different.

Walking through Venice

Walking through Venice

It might not have been completely devoid of humidity, but the entire city was fresh and cool. An ocean breeze was always present, but never salty. People here were happier, and I noticed that a lot of locals whistled as they worked.

Venetian Canals

Venetian Canals

The first time I laid eyes on the Rialto bridge across the Grand Canal, the sun was just setting and the clouds hung low, pink and puffy above the colorful buildings. The magnificent architecture and sparkling water complimented each other perfectly. But the sight that put the scenery over the top were the hundreds upon hundreds of camera flashes along the edge of the canal.

Lights along the riverside

Lights along the riverside

Tourists and locals alike just couldn’t capture the view enough. The tiny flashes sparked in every direction, making the entire spectacle glitter and shimmer.

Restaurants along the Grand Canal

Restaurants along the Grand Canal

In fact, there wasn’t a single sunset or sunrise in all my days in Venice that wasn’t spectacular. None of my photos do the city justice. The sky always seemed to be a canvas of pastel paint hung over the city. One of my favorite dishes of all time was eating Tiramisu in a restaurant along this stretch of canal, watching the stripe–shirted gondoliers gently row their intricate boats over the glittering waters.

Restaurants along the Grand Canal

Restaurants along the Grand Canal

Tiramisu has always been one of my favorite desserts, and eating it with such a stunning view in the land that invented Tiramisu is a definite bucket list worthy experience.

Venetian Dusk

Venetian Dusk

Hotel Giorgione

Our hotel was lovely, a very old building with a colorful glass-blown chandelier.

Hotel Giorgione's impressive lobby chandelier

Hotel Giorgione’s impressive lobby chandelier

 

We even spotted Angela Kinsey as a guest there at one point, who is the actress that plays “Angela” from The Office. No pictures of her, though, as we thought it’d be rude (and the lighting was dark).

The breakfasts at this hotel were my favorite.

Breakfast Patio in Venice

Breakfast Patio in Venice

It was buffet style, as usual. With the typical Italian coffee machines (so much fun) and the array of fresh baked pastries to choose from. This hotel’s dining area was absolutely lovely. Fountains and flowers.

Venetian Hotel Balcony

Venetian Hotel Balcony

Patio Guest

Patio Guest

Our days in Venice were not planned to be too busy. Which I was glad for, because I could honestly spend weeks and weeks just aimlesly wandering the streets. There was never a dull moment.

Venetian Bakery window shopping.

Venetian Bakery window shopping.

A painter sells his wares next to Rialto Bridge

A painter sells his wares next to Rialto Bridge

Venetian Masks & Blown Glass

A Venetian Mask shop

A Venetian Mask shop

The mask shops and glass blowers especially interested me. From my perspective, they made up about half of the businesses in Venice.

Glass Gondolier

Glass Gondolier

Glass Orchestra

Glass Orchestra

Believe it or not, these were some of the less intricate pieces we saw. These ones just happen to be my favorites. Many of the glass blower shops had open faced workrooms, where you could peek inside to see the figurines come to life at the hands of the craftsmen.

The Venetian masks were of equal intricacy and craftsmanship. They ranged in price from 50¢ (for tiny, plastic “made in china” masks) to thousands and thousands of dollars (porcelain inlaid with gold)

Venetian masks being sold by a street vendor

Venetian masks being sold by a street vendor

The masks were sold in street markets and from behind window displays. I still vividly remember by favorite one, white with gold detail, hanging in a shop window. We also bought a tiny red and gold one to use as an ornament on our christmas tree.

Venetian Masks in a shop

Venetian Masks in a shop

Venetian Masks in a window display

Venetian Masks in a window display

Overall, wandering the streets was the best part about Venice. I have yet to see any photographs that truly capture this city’s beauty.

We did have one stop, though.

Saint Mark’s Basilica & Campanile Di San Marco

Piazza San Marco: full of winged lion statues.

Lion in Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco is full of figures of lions with wings, which were absolutely whimsical and stunning.

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica Front

San Marco Basilica Front

As far as this destination goes: The crowds are large, the lines are long, the shade is little, and the pigeons are swarming. But you know what? Absolutely worth it.

Splat

Splat

And far as the pigeons go… well… let’s just say that my dad can cross off “get pooped on by a Venetian pigeon” from his bucket list.

After admiring all of the sights that the square had to offer, we got in line for the Campanile di San Marco, the bell tower.

Campanile di San Marco: The San Marco Bell tower

Campanile di San Marco: The San Marco Bell tower

This is definitely a place worth visiting, as it offers the best views of the city.

In The bell tower

In The bell tower

The views were breathtaking.

Overlooking Venice

Overlooking Venice

The burnt orange rooftops stretched from horizon to horizon, ocean on all sides and canals fracturing the city into pieces.

Overlooking Venice

Overlooking Venice

Overlooking the Basilica

Overlooking the Basilica

San Marco Basilica

San Marco Basilica

Clocktower Views

Clocktower Views

Venecian Sea

Venecian Sea

A Gondola glides on the ocean

A Gondola glides on the ocean

When it comes to Venice, there is really no way to go wrong. I would suggest that you come without much of a plan ahead of you, so that you have time to explore every nook and crannie of the intricate streets. As long as you make sure you save time to take a gondola ride, you should have the time of your life. The two must-dos are, of course, riding in a gondola, and seeing the entirety of the city laid out before you. Other than that, Venice is the perfect destination to make things up as you go along!

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