A romantic visit to Venice, the land of canals, bridges and gondolas.
I always thought my husband would propose to me in Venice as its the city of romance however, my husband booked this as a 1st Christmas present for us and we took my father-in-law and his partner too!
Firstly, don’t expect to see the whole of Venice in a weekend. This city is made up of 450 bridges, 120 islands and a maze of narrow, twisting streets.
Arrival at Venice Airport is actually very smooth. A water transport service is available from Alilaguna the airport boathouse to the main Venetian islands of Murano, Burano and Lido, which is about 10 minute walk from the terminal, you can book your ticket at the airport. We were staying at the Lido so ours was €27 per person return however if you fancy your own private water taxi direct to your hotel these start at around €200 you can book it here
Our hotel was on the Lido one of the outer islands, arrival was simple and our hotel just a short 5 minute walk from the jetty. This would be a great place to stay in the height of the summer as its just 15 minutes away from the main Venice island and has some great beaches.
Whilst the Lido isn’t the glamorous location for Hollywood starlets and European aristocracy that it used to be, it is where the Venice Film Festival takes place every September.
St. Mark’s Square is the main place that everyone heads for but we had been warned about the cost of eating and drinking there so after exploring some of the stalls we headed away wandering down the little lanes that are tucked away and where you can quickly find yourself lost in the beauty of Venice and the tranquil quiet backstreets.
Wine & Prosecco
Wander down the narrow lanes you will stumble across many cafes (Ostarias) where you can relax with a glass of prosecco or wine for around €3. I found a new respect for Italian wine, well I did get to sample quite a lot. Some of the Ostarias even supply blankets so you can still sit outside even when its chilly.
As you explore Venice you will love the fact that little narrow lanes that you think will lead nowhere suddenly open up up into a square with bars, cafes and churches.
Down one of the backstreets we stumbled upon a real find, Vineria “Al Bacco Imbriago” where you can buy your bottle of wine or prosecco straight from the barrel. We tried a couple of lovely reds before making our selection and a few of their sparkling wines before making our selection, they were all around €2-€3 a litre with a small charge for the plastic bottle.
Around every corner is something unexpected, beautiful bridges cross blue lagoons where you will will catch a glimpse of the gentle gondolas, their gondoliers in their signature stripped tops and straw boater hats pushing off from the buildings or singing to their clients, these tend to start at €80 for up to 6 people for 40 minutes or around €100 in the evening.
Bridges & Gondolas
As you explore Venice its fascinating to see the homes along the canals complete with their ancient arches and windows adorned with their pretty floral window boxes and strings of washing even some buildings being held up by hands!
In between all of this is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection . It is regarded as one of the most important museums in Italy for 20th century European and American Art, the bright and modern museum offers a welcome respite from Venice’s tangled streets. Book a ticket in advance and skip the queue.
Why not attend the Winter Venice Carnival
We found some amazing places to eat and we really didn’t find it as expensive as people had told us, our 3 favourites were the Osteria ae Spezie which we were recommended whilst asking for directions to another restaurant, Antica Ostaria Ruga Rialto which we found by just wandering along one day and one that had been recommended by friends La Cantina, which after a few hours a leisurely lunch and a few bottles of wine we left very happy.
Venice is a great place for a bar crawl. They even have their own term for it – un giro d’ombra. Like Spain’s tapas bars you can get a glass of wine and a tasty cicchetti, from fat balls of deep fried mozzarella to crispy battered seafood.
BRIDGES & CANALS
We wandered down the cobbled alleys following the signs for the Rialto Bridge which although is is spectacular and one of the places to get your iconic photos with the Grand Canal behind you the fish and vegetable market tucked away to its side is more interesting. Vibrant with fresh fruit and vegetables, spices and fresh fish, you can see where the chefs of Venice take their inspiration from . But the bridge really comes alive in the evenings.
MURANO – ISLAND OF GLASS
I would definitely recommend a visit to the nearby island of Murano renowned for its glass making – from jewellery to tableware and sculptures. It was in 1291, it was decreed that Venice’s glass manufacture should be moved here in case of fire which would have destroyed Venice.
You can include a visit to see how its done, we explored a number of the stunning shops that have such beautiful collections and were tempted by a number of beautiful pieces of jewellery but I could have bought lots more!
The island has a really laid back feel, its quieter than Venice and the canals are much quieter, the pavements are lined with cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops and of course, numerous ornamental glass retail outlets.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation is varied in Venice and there is something for everyone’s budget. We visited the stunning 5* luxury hotel Metropole which is situated overlooking the magical lagoon in front of St Mark’s Square, we also visited the 4* Hotel Bisanzio, just a stones throw from St. Mark’s Square, where a warm welcome awaits you but as we said there is something for everyone including hotels, boutique hotels, B&B’s or even hostels.
CHOCOLATE & PASTA
Alongside the gently cruising gondolas you can see water ambulances or DHL delivery boats; designer stores sit in contrast with tiny, family run shops.
How to get there
We flew with Easyjet and only took hand luggage but there are so many airlines we can look at, or maybe you fancy travelling in style by the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express which offers an overnight travel experience unlike any other, we could then fly you home.
You could visit Venice many times and still have a new experience, its romantic, magical and true place that travel dreams are made of!
We travelled in March 2018 to Venice and everything was booked through Travel by Lesley
Call Lesley on 0800 983 0075 to find out more about trips to this amazing place or email firstname.lastname@example.org