Reminiscing and longing for the Venetian canals
Gondoliers at the start of the day
Piazza San Marco
St. Mark’s Square, yeh, I suppose it goes without saying really; however, Piazza San Marco truly is captivating. You’re entirely swathed with beautiful architecture striking intricate façades and colonnades and porticos that are mesmerising.
I loved strolling all-around Piazza San Marco; it may get rather busy at certain times of the year; it’s a matter of choosing your timing.
The bustling Piazza San Marco, Venice
I managed to avoid shopping in the luxury boutiques as I was lured away by the enchanting Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace and Campanile.
Taking a stroll along the Riva degli Schiavoni is a must, the stunning view across the lagoon with gondolas bobbing up and down, you honestly feel like you are watching a movie; it is so iconic.
Canals and waterways of Venice
The view from Ponte dell'Accademia
The Grand Canal is a sight to behold, especially at the canal entrance where the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute sits. You feel that she is protecting Venice from anyone who wishes to enter.
The view from the Ponte dell'Accademia facing down to the mouth of the Grand Canal is breath-taking. One after the other, the pastel-toned dwellings that line the canal are so picturesque.
One thing I would say is that it isn’t difficult to find peaceful canals to stroll along. Venice has so many meandering waterways that if you just wander a few lanes back or take a different turning from the crowds, you’ll be amazed at how tranquil Venice can be.
Moored gondolas at dusk, Venice
Visiting Murano and Burano
One of my highlights from our weekend trip to Venice was visiting the islands of Murano and Burano. They were beautiful and so quaint and picturesque.
I would mention that as you need to catch a Vaporetto to the islands, head there early; the waterbuses get full very quickly.
The island of Murano is the closet of the two to Venezia and is famed for its delicate and colourful glass; it has been Venetian glassmakers' home since the 13th-century.
Yes, you guessed it, a pair of glass drop earrings were coming home with me; it would have been rude not to.
There are a few individual islands that makeup Murano and all linked by attractive bridges and snaking canals. The multicoloured shops, restaurants and homes that line the canals are incredibly pretty. Vivid wooden shutters are thrown open to the waterways below, and charming little boats are waiting to give you a ride.
After Murano, we were onto Burano, a smaller island; however, it certainly wasn’t lacking in charisma and allure.
The vibrantly painted houses are unique; you just wander around with a constant smile on your face; they are so attractive and uplifting. Burano is reasonably small, so we strolled around a large part of the island, criss-crossing waterways and winding our way around the back lanes.
Take a peek at my tip for catching the Vaporetto back from Burano in the ‘Points to Note’ below.
Guided tour of three Venetian islands
Forget the Vaporetto and hop on a boat trip from Venice to Murano, Torcello & Burano with a guide.
Enjoy a full-day guided walking tour around the three islands, with time to spare for yourself.
Venice and its bridges
The Rialto Bridge
One of Italy's most historic and eye-catching bridges has to be the Rialto Bridge; it is beautiful. Constructed in stone in 1591, the Rialto Bridge is incredibly unique and, as you can imagine, quite popular with tourists.
Lined along each side of the bridge are shops attracting your attention; however, step behind them, and you get a wonderful view along the Grand Canal.
The current Rialto Bridge, along with its wooden predecessors, has been welcoming footsteps for centuries. With the Rialto market on the canal's eastern bank, it soon became a busy thoroughfare during the 13th-century.
The Ponte dei Pugni, otherwise known as the Bridge of Fists, is located just off the Grand Canal along the Rio de S. Barnaba and is famed for its 17th-century fistfights.
Rival Venetian clans would fistfight on top of the bridge, with the aim to knock your challenger into the murky canal below, ughhh.
Although the Ponte dei Pugni is a reasonably small bridge, it is worth taking a detour to see it and the vibrant surrounding lanes. Just adjacent to the bridge is the colourful floating fruit and veg stall.
A pair of gondolas in front of the Bridge of Fists
One bridge that can't go without mention is Ponte dei Sospiri, The Bridge of Sighs, built-in 1603.
The enclosed limestone bridge spans the Rio di Palazzo. It connects the interrogation rooms at Doge' Palace with the New Prison and such an icon to Venice.
If you're not floating beneath the Ponte dei Sospiri in a gondola, then the finest view is from the Ponte della Paglia footbridge.
Venetian architecture is so distinctive; when we were in Croatia a few years ago, it is so recognisable along the Dalmatia Coastline, where the Republic of Venice once ruled.
However, strolling along the Venice canal sides, amongst the tiny passageways and the elegant piazza’s Venetian architecture is so captivating.
A helpful guide
If you're lured by beautiful architecture and meandering waterways I urge you to visit Venice. I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into a voyage of discovering.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our wanderings around Venice, now you can grab the revised copy.
Strolling through the Mercato di Rialto
The Rialto food market is wonderful to visit, even if it’s just for the location. As it is positioned by the side of the Grand Canal with the Rialto Bridge as your backdrop.
It certainly puts a different perspective on your daily food shop.
The Gondola boatyard
While we were meandering around some smaller canals and lanes, we spotted a Gondola boatyard, 'Squero San Trovaso'. It was such a surprise to see and so gratifying that these traditions still continue. The craftsmen are handing down their trades through the generations.
We were witnessing a glimpse into a piece of Venetian history.
Overlooking the Gondolas boatyard
Water taxi from Venice Marco Polo airport
Heading across the lagoon, you truly felt like a million dollars with the wind in your hair, sunglasses on and not a care in the world, only the adventures that lie ahead.
Have a browse through our 16 Very good excuses to visit Venice post; I’m sure you’ll be tempted.
Surely it says something about me if one of my pleasures while visiting Venice was to the Isola di San Michele the Cemetery Island.
You know me, any opportunity to visit a cemetery, I’m there. Luckily enough, Isola di San Michele is on the Vaporetto route to the island of Murano, so we hopped off and had a little wander around at the historic mausoleums and crypts.
Cimitero di San Michele, Venice
Nobody does ice-cream like the Italians. There is genuinely something comforting and an element of indulgence when you have an ice-cream in Italy.
The sun doesn't need to be shining, and it doesn't even need to be warm. All you require to immerse yourself into that gelato paradise is a beautiful, heart-warming view, and you have it all.
I didn’t even give Gary a chance to take a photo; I ate the evidence.
UNESCO “In Danger”?
A Venice Gondola trip
You may think this is obvious; however, prior to visiting Venice, I said to Gary, I'm not going on a Gondola; I thought it was a bit gimmicky, to be honest.
No sooner we were in Venice, and I thought this looks fun, relaxing, and a magnificent way to see different city districts.
Also, it gave such a different and stunning perspective of Venice. It’s a great way to explore the little canals and buildings you could never see on foot. It gives you an appreciation of the elegant Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture that line the canals.
So, yes, I was won over; I absolutely loved it, and the only downside was that it didn't last long enough.
When strolling around the lanes of Venice, you’ll often see folk kicking back at a café or bar appreciating a vibrant orange bubbly tipple.
So, Gary and I took the view of ‘When in Rome’ or Venice, let’s try out an Aperol Spritz for ourselves. We weren’t disappointed.
Aperol Spritz in our garden
Now every time we re-create this refreshing drink in our garden at home we are transported to the banks of the Grand Canal, with the view of the Rialto Bridge by our side.
That’s one of the things I adore about travel, is the memories that it evokes years after you have returned.
If, like us, you cannot wait to return to Italy, then follow the simple steps in our Aperol Spritz post and enjoy.
Venice’s quieter streets
One district that we enjoyed strolling around was the Venetian Ghetto, the Jewish Quarter. It was designated the Jewish Quarter from the 16th to 19th centuries and is still the centre of the Venetian Jewish community today. The history and architecture around this district of Venice are fascinating.
So, my advice is, go and get lost in Venice, you’re never too far from the Grand Canal.
Lunch in Burano
If you’ve decided to head across Venice lagoon and visit the islands of Murano and Burano, I urge you to stay for a spot of lunch.
We couldn’t hold back any longer once we had reached Burano. We had a delightful stroll amongst the colourful waterways and wandered around the quieter residential lanes.
I initially believed that the bustling canal-side restaurants would be full of tourists; however, that wasn't the case. You were rubbing shoulder to shoulder with locals, too, and we had one of the creamiest and most indulgent shrimp risottos that we have ever enjoyed.
Once again, a memory that I will always hold dear.
One for next time
This is difficult, as I loved our time in Venice. Although it was our first time, we wanted to see as much as possible around the city. So, as the weather was dry during our March visit, we spent most of our time strolling the waterways and lanes and taking in many external sights.
Next time I would venture more inside to see some of the striking internal architecture.
Let us know!
Allow more time
One of the highlights during our visit to Venice for me was heading off to the surrounding island within Venice Lagoon.
We visited three islands; however, given more time, I would have loved to visit more.
Resting your weary feet
Returning on the Vaporetto from Burano
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