“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.”
We recently returned from our summer vacation to Italy. Wow! We loved the country!! Over the next few weeks, we will try to recap each place we visited as we worked our way through the country as first time visitors.
We started the trip in Venice. We had heard mix reviews of Venice therefore we scheduled it as our first stop so we had no other comparisons from other parts of Italy. Overall, our impression was similar to what we had heard. The city is really neat with the canals and lack of cars however it would not be on our top list to return. We found it crowded and the people weren’t as friendly as other parts of Italy we visited.
We had pre-arranged a private water transfer from the airport to our hotel. After our long international flight, we figured we would want to get to the destination as soon as possible after landing. This was one of our best decisions! **Travel tip** Take a private transfer from the airport to your hotel! We used VeniceLink and would highly recommend them!
The ride to our hotel was roughly 35 minutes. We walked through the crowded docks as 10+ people were crowding into shared rides. Also they jam-pack the water taxis with what looked like 50+ people. Having a direct line to our hotel was wonderful! Plus our hotel has a dock right in front.
We chose to stay at Savoia & Jolanda due to the location to all the nearby attractions. The location was great for a 2 day stay, however it was VERY CROWDED nearby. If we were to stay for a longer period of time, we would try to find some place out of the tourist traffic.
Overall the rooms provided what we needed. They were clean and spacious. They were pretty dark but fortunately we didn’t plan to spend much time inside so that didn’t matter. The internet signal was so-so in the room. We frequently would get kicked off. The front desk staff was helpful and were able to provide recommended restaurants and activities.
The breakfast was great each morning! We enjoyed it on the outside patio. Breakfast starts at 7:00am therefore we tried to get down there by 7:30 as the place was nearly empty during the first hour.
Our first afternoon was spent wandering through the streets and taking in the unique views that Venice has to offer!
The little canals and the narrow walkways create such a unique grid for a city. It was quite interesting that there were no cars to be seen! We loved wandering through the city and admiring the views on each street.
We arrived to the hotel around 11:00 am and the room was not ready. We headed over to Piazza San Marco to get some brunch and enjoy the scenery. The Florian Cafe drew us in with the live band. We enjoyed a lovely brunch in the square while enjoying the music and views. Our only complaint was the steep sitting fee of 6 Euros per person!
On our way over to the Accademia Bridge, we stumbled upon Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti. We decided to take a quick detour through it and it is definitely worth the 30 minutes to an hour walk through.
Our next stop was the Ponte dell’Accademia which offered beautiful views of the city!
That evening we meandered through the narrow sidewalks to find Cantina do Mori. It dates back to 1462! It serves wine and appetizers. We opted for a “one of each” plate and shared the flavors of the day. The pickled artichoke and octopus were some of our favorites!
Our first morning, we woke up early to get a glimpse of the city without all the tourists. As I said earlier, it was very crowded. Fortunately for us early risers, we were able to enjoy a few of the sites with minimal tourists.
We were also able to capture Piazza San Marco without the crowds!
We did not schedule a tour of St. Mark’s Cathedral therefore we decided to attend mass there Sunday morning. It was all in Italian so we didn’t really understand a word, but we enjoyed taking in the scenery!
That afternoon we had 2 tours scheduled through Walks of Italy. The tours were small group therefore there was a maximum of 12 people per tour. I would say the tours were average. It was nice to have a small group but we didn’t feel the guides added any extra facts or stories above the standard tours.
The first tour was of Doge’s Palace with the secret passages. The bonus of the secret passages tour is you are able to see the dungeons and get a glimpse into prison life. We love that type of history so this tour was perfect for us!
The secret passages were really interesting and the palace was breathtaking inside with all of the gold accents.
The next tour was a canal cruise with a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore Island. The canal cruise was great to see some of the buildings up close and personal from the water!
The last activity we did during our time in Venice was a private Gondola ride. Ahhh the Gondola’s…..the vision I had was that locals own these and that is their main mode of transportation. WRONG! They are totally aimed at tourists now. The only time Venetians use Gondolas are one their wedding day.
Overall, I’m not sure we’d be in a rush to return but we did enjoy 48 hours in the city. **TRAVEL TIP** If you plan to go to Venice, try to schedule it on the front half of your trip.
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