Venezia – the name evokes romanticism. Also known as Serenissima and the Queen of the Adriatic, Venice balances the grandeur of its architectural monuments and the simple beauty of the innumerable canals and bridges to be the perfect host for a dreamy vacation.
It had been on my list for a long time and this European spring, I had the privilege to indulge in a breezy Venezian vacation. I flew to Venice directly from India and Sai was coming to Venice from Rome. We had decided to meet at Piazalle Roma (the final bus stop for Venice, no buses are allowed further into the city). We were unable to reach each other on phone, so we were praying that we somehow find each other. And ta-da, we did! We just bumped into each other on the road and it somehow made the situation much more romantic
Venice relies on a system of water transport. There are three kinds of transport vehicles that you find here: Vaporettos (water-buses, the best and cheapest way to travel), Gondolas (flat-bottomed rowing boat for a touristy experience, which charge exorbitant rates) and Traghetto ( small row-boats, used for crossing across the Grand Canal when there are no bridges).
We took a vaporetto to our hotel in Castello (one of the six districts in Venice). For the exorbitant prices these hotels charge, the rooms and services are surprisingly very minimal. But that’s Venice. A lot of people prefer staying in the mainland and the neighboring islands to save on the stay. However, my personal suggestion would be to stay in Venice to enjoy it to the fullest. Who cares if you have a small room and a dingy bathroom when you are in Venice and you will be out all day. With hordes of tourists that throng Venice each day, staying in Venice gives you the privilege to enjoy the sights and sounds in the night and early morning and catch the scenic beauty without being pushed across the bridge. Trust me on this!
Once we quickly checked into the hotel and had a quick bite at one of the best pizzerias of Venice (C’E Pizza e Pizza), we started for some of the famous tourist attractions of the city. St. Marks’ square, the city’s largest square, has the famous Doge’s Palace and St. Marks’ Basilica. If you are a fan of art, architecture or history, you will be swooning all over it. We did a quick tour of both. We generally prefer to take guided tours at such places. Unfortunately, the guides had a strike going on that day and we had to make peace with reading the text guides. My favorite place in Doge’s Palace was the fabled Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge connected the Palace with the Prison. When prisoners were being taken to the cells, they would cast their wishful glances at Venice from this bridge and sigh. I could feel the air of melancholy in this place, yet it was one of the most beautiful views of the Venetian lagoon from here.
We had signed up for an afternoon walking tour. Our guide, Simona, took us through the unknown and unexplored parts of the city. Interesting anecdotes, useful tips and a brush-up of the history of Venice made the tour worthwhile. She told us all about how the masks came into being, how the houses were constructed and some interesting stories of the famous people who lived here.
Our dinner at La Colonna was splendid. When in Venice, try the sea food – they have an amazing variety. Also, try Spritz and Bellini – Venetian cocktails. We wanted to end the night with a romantic drive down the Grand Canal. We took the slow Vaporetto no. 1, and sat down dreamy-eyed to take in the gorgeous views of the canal and the beautiful buildings on it. We didn’t even bother to take out the camera to click pictures.
Early next morning we started on a vaporetto to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for glass making. We attended one of the glassblowing sessions in Murano (Simona had given us a contact, resulting in us bypassing the long queue for the free session). We looked in awe as the artist deftly gave shapes to molten glass and created masterpieces. I couldn’t resist picking up a Murano glass pendant :D
Our next stop, Burano, was a beautiful island of colored houses. It looked straight out of a fairy tale. Burano is famous for lace making and you can see all kind of things made of lace – from curtains to clothes to umbrellas.
On returning to Venice, we headed for The Rialto Bridge. It is indeed gorgeous. The Rialto market is a bustling place and a place to have a good time at some of the old bars. A quick tip: Always carry your drinks and drink while standing. They would charge you extra for sitting down in the bars
It was our last night in Venice, and we wanted to get lost in it. So we just kept on walking, taking wrong turns, moving away from the crowd, till we were actually lost. Here we saw the places where Venetians live, eat and pray. At one point we came out at Grand Canal, and then after many twisted lanes, we somehow reached St. Marks’ Square. It was 10 in the night, and the day-trippers had all left. The empty square emanated an aura that we had missed the first time we were there. It beguiled us into passing some more time sitting on the steps of the square and soaking in the Venetian sounds sans the crowds. Sounds of a distant orchestra, the cool breeze and the splendor of the Cathedral were indeed the memories of Venice that I would have loved to carry in my heart. Ciao Venice!
P.S. You can refer my blog on tips to planning a trip to Venice. Keep reading and Keep travelling
This post was originally published on 'Travel with Swagatika'.