‘I had had my dreams of Venice. But nothing that I had dreamed was as impossible as what I found’ (Arthur Symons, British Poet)
And I coudn’t agree more. When you enter Venice you enter another world, a world of breathtaking beauty, a peaceful world with no traffic, a world which contains……crushed chunky kit-kat gelato.
This post is dedicated solely to wandering, because Venice begs to be wandered. So much so that our entire first day was dedicated to it. I awoke in our quaint little hotel to the sound of church bells ringing through the streets and the sun streaming through my cute little wooden shutters. I do believe I could quite easily get up at 8am every day if woken like this, a feat which is close to impossible at home, even with the help of Olly Murs serenading me (through my alarm clock not in person, don’t even get me started on how amazing THAT would be).
We stayed in the Santa Croce district, meaning the first thing we experienced was the quiet, charming, back streets of Venice, rather than the busy and crowded ‘touristy’ area of St Marcs Square. To be honest I was glad that we’d chosen a quieter spot to base ourselves.
We decided to head in the general direction of the Rialto Bridge, the main bridge over the Grand Canal which holds a colourful market and offers stunning views of the buildings lining the water.
Which brings me to the next must do in Venice – GET LOST! Explore the cute little bridges over bright turquoise canals safe in the knowledge that the darkest of ally-ways will often present you with a beautiful piazza buzzing with quaint Italian eateries. And rest assured that round almost every corner you will bump into a fellow intrepid explorer holding their map upside-down looking just as puzzled as you, so embrace it.
That afternoon we felt the need to be royally ripped off, so headed straight for the gondolas. Ok, so it was expensive £50 for half an hour to be exact, but you absolutely have to do it once, and you have to do it in Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world (did I mention I was with my parents?!). Top tip – look for someone who is paying extra for an Italian to sit in their boat and awkwardly sing right in their faces…..and take the boat behind. Free concert and you don’t have to stare at his tonsils all the way round.
If you’re on a budget and you don’t fancy wobbling around on the most difficult boat in the world to board, grab a seat at a nearby restaurant, order yourself a peach bellini and just watch other tourists getting into gondolas, hours of entertainment trust me!
After the gondola fun, we made our way towards the main tourist area of Venice, St Mark’s Square. This is where you can find three of the most popular attractions, the Basilica and Doges Palace, as well as walk along the majestic waterfront where the Venice canals open up to the sea.
It is also where you will be approached every ten seconds by someone trying to sell you a selfie stick, and get hit in the head every five seconds by someone using one. The square itself is stunning and it’s well worth walking along the seafront, however I personally preferred the quieter areas – be prepared for crowds, be prepared for queuing and be prepared to take out a mortgage if you want a cup of coffee.
It was time to take our tired feet back to our hotel, only stopping for a gelato to cheer ourselves up after arriving at the same square for the fifth time.
After a quick change we headed out to dinner just round the corner from our hotel on a quieter part of the Grand Canal. It was here that I discovered that next to wandering, the best way to soak up the pure magic and sheer beauty of Venice……..was with a huge slice of tiramisu and a peach bellini.