Over the Easter holidays, I had the opportunity for a long weekend in Venice. Having previously visited in the summer months and always a fan of a less manic out of season visit, I just couldn’t say no. I love Italy, who doesn’t?
There’s no denying Venice is absolutely gorgeous in Spring. The city awakens from its wintry spell and wisteria blooms over the canals. The Venetians are welcoming, the atmosphere is fresh, and the views are full of sunshine and light. There’s flowers….. and lots of them. Everywhere. The darkest of backstreets come to life with pops of colour – evident from the labyrinth of narrow bridges, courtyards and winding canals.
Our home for the weekend was the brand spanking new Palazzo Veneziano. Small and boutiquey where the staff are eager to please, the floors gleaming and the beds super comfortable. If anything, after a manic week with my son I was dying for a good nights sleep and I was sure that combing some amazing pasta, fresh pizza, crunchy biscotti, all washed down with a traditional Aperol would certainly do the trick.
We arrived early, and after a quick freshen up we wandered down and headed out for some lunch ready for a full afternoon of exploring.
As the famous saying goes, When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in Venice, order pizza and wine! (Slightly lesser known, but still excellent advice if you ask me!) 😉
Now, no blog post about Venice is complete without a little bit of cheese – the ‘love’ word needs to be mentioned at least once! Venice is known for being one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world and it’s true, I wholeheartedly agree, and experiencing Venice is like falling in love. Your heart often skips a beat when catching a glimpse of a new view, and you can easily become mesmerised with its beauty & uniqueness.
If you haven’t visited Venice before, when you eventually do you’ll very quickly notice that wherever you go, there’s a bridge and a canal. And wherever there’s a canal, there’s a good chance you’ll see a gondola and gondolier. And forget the map, you don’t need it in the slightest.
Prepare yourself for gasps, squeals of “oh, look!” and “oh wow!” as you rush to drink it (and snap a photo) all at once.
With this in mind we re-visited the usual tourist spots quite quickly, Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square, The Basilica, admired the views, took photos, ate more pizza and slurped a few wines before deciding that this time, just to be a little more adventurous, we were going to go off the beaten track.
So leaving the gondolas and crowds behind we mixed with the locals and meandered down the back streets. We walked over countless bridges, found cute back-street wine bars known as bacari all serving traditional cicheti (the Italian version of tapas) and people-watched the locals. This is a truly traditional experience in which to get totally immersed! Avoid the restaurants where the menu is translated six times and the table cloths are plastic, walk a little more, take a risk.
If ever there was a city made for wandering, it’s got to be Venice. It feels like you couldn’t make a wrong turn. Upon every corner, there’s something so beautiful to see, and the people are very welcoming.
Even the darkest of alleyways may all of a sudden lead to the most beautiful courtyard, littered with bistro tables and candlelight. Occasionally I would turn around and all of a sudden wonder how I actually got there!
Mind you… I’m not known well for my sense of direction…
We made lots of new friends too…
Over canals and through alleyways, getting as thoroughly lost as possible.
There are lots of places along the way to grab a drink, an ice-cream or a hot cappuccino.
It’s hard to imagine that Venice is somewhere people live day in, day out, all year round as it’s just so different to any other city I’ve seen. Instead of the constant annoying honking of car horns that greet you in some cities, it’s the buzz and hum of boat engines.
Outside each of the buildings, instead of driveways with cars, there are little platforms and walkways with space for a little boat.
The streets and buildings could possibly be described as a ‘little bit run down’, but in Venice, they just fit and add to the fairy-tale feel that the city has.
We spent three days exploring and didn’t once feel like we’d had enough.
Venice is equally as beautiful and vibrant on a night time too and although it’s certainly not a ‘party’ city the wine bars and restaurants do stay open until late.
Venice is a place you really need to visit. Or if you’ve already been why not try another destination? I’ve recently discovered Clickstay who have the most unique villas available… roll on to our next break away.
Make it happen.