Getting lost in Venice

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Where I stayed
Gorizia a la Valigia Venice
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We took the train to Venice from the Termini station in Rome.  As always, we were very early for our train, but we were entertained by the student protesters marching through the stations. Austerity protests were a common sight throughout our trip around Europe, and this was probably one of the largest.

The train trip to Venice was a nice way to see the countryside, however a lot of it was underwater with all the flooding Italy had had earlier in the week.  Three and a half hours later we arrived in the Venice Santa Lucia station and got our first look at the canals of Venice.  The vaporetti (water bus) ride to the Rialto bridge did not disappoint, and neither did the winding alleys to our hotel.  After dropping our bags at our hotel (much nicer than the last one!) we headed off to find St Marco's square and the grand canal.  We watched the spectacular sunset drinking wine on the grand canal and then headed off to find somewhere for dinner.  Our dinner choice was not that great- very up market and fancy- not quite the simple delicious Italian food we had become used to, and very expensive!  We decided that we would find smaller alleys for the rest of our meals for the rest of our stay.   It was a very cold night so after a tiramasu dessert (to make up for dinner) we headed back to the hotel for an early night. 

Our early night did not translate into a good nights sleep as the hotel had some issue with its fire alarm- it woke us up about 5.30 and didn't stop for over an hour.  However, the hotel's free breakfast was pretty impressive so that immediately cheered us up. 

Our first stop was to visit the Doge's palace.  It is a very cool building and very opulent.  We decided that subtlety was not a strong point for Italians, which made for impressive viewing.  So much wealth!  We also went for a look around the prison, crossing the bridge of sighs and seeing the cold, dark cells.  Not a very pleasant place. 

Determined to not make the same mistake for lunch as we did for the previous dinner, we proceeded to loose ourselves in the side streets to find a nice place for lunch.  We found a nice little place with simple, good food (hooray!) and then tried to unloose ourselves and get back to the hotel.  We were very unsuccessful on this front, but that was ok because we discovered a lovely Gondolier who took us for a 45 minute Gondola ride through the canals.  It was a nice way to see the buildings of Venice, and was fun to imagine what it all would have looked like in its heigh day.   After our ride, our friendly Gondolier directed us to a non-touristy area of town which was lovely to see.  Again we got thoroughly lost, and wondered around this area for about two hours, discovering various Churches, buildings, bridges and quaint piazzas.  Eventually we found our way back to the hotel just in time to get ready to go out for the Cichetti (a type of Venetian tapas) tour that I was looking forward to. 

We met our guide for the tour and the other tour members (two American couples, and an Australian family) and then headed off to the first cichetti bar.  The idea of the tour was to show us how the local Venetians eat and drink.  We went to various bars and tried delicious cichetti dishes and local wine.  Most cichetti bars do not have sitting room, so you stand at the bar with your cichetti in one hand and wine in the other, and of course- talk. 
It was a lovely evening and we ate some delicious food (everything from fish based dishes to meatballs, to cheese and artichoke).  Our guide Cecilia was fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Venice!  If I did it again though, I would do it on the first night so you have plenty of time to visit the bars again.  The tour was refreshingly non-touristy; quite a rarity in Venice. 
We finished the night with gelato in St Marco's square.  The only place still open was a 5 star hotel restaurant- we bought gelato from them and then listened to an amazing piano/violin duet play fantastic music for the diners.  A magical end to a great day in Venice. 

Our train did not leave Venice till the afternoon so we had most of the day to kill in Venice.  We decided to buy a 12 hour vaporetti pass and just take it around the main rout.  We jumped off on an island that looked great and non-touristy for a cappucino and then back on again making a quite stop at St Giorgios island only to find there really wasn't much on it.  So we headed back to St Marco's and then took another vaporetti to a stop near a bar that Cecelia had recommended to us the night before.  This bar is famous for its meatballs (they were delicious!) and we both decided to order adventurous meals after our success with seafood the night before. I ordered spaghetti with garlic, parsley and clams (It was adventurous for me! I don't usually do seafood!) and Evan ordered octopus in a spicy/garlicy sauce.  A very friendly bar and great food! We then decided to try a gelataria, again recommended by Cecelia, and then had a look around St Marco's cathedral.  We then picked up our bags and went to the train station, taking the 5.20 train to Pordenone.
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Gramz on

Love the pics - thanks you two xoxo

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