There are no words to describe the beautiful sinking city of Venice, Italy, but I am going to try. Last weekend my roommate, Mary Helen, her friend Maria, and I headed out for Venice late Friday night. Being based in Florence, catching a quick train was no problem and we made it in just under two hours. Because it was a little late, we went straight to check in to our hostel/apartment. It was in a great location, about a seven-minute walk from the train station.
We were so giddy with excitement and decided we needed to walk around a bit, even though it was well past 10:30. Venice was just as beautiful at night as it was the next morning when we started our adventure. We didn’t stay out too late wandering around since we had a lot we wanted to see the next day.
Each of us had places we wanted to go see. Luckily, they were things all of us had on our list. To start off our beautiful Saturday morning, we headed to the Rialto Market and Bridge. The market was first with it being the closest, however, we may have actually just stumbled upon it headed toward the bridge. I was in food heaven between the fresh produce and the fresh seafood market.
Everything they had looked amazing; so much so, I even decided to try calamari during lunch. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like slimy things, or really anything too different when it comes to food. But, wow was the calamari good. I sampled my roommate Mary Helen’s calamari and it had me wishing I had ordered that instead, but more on lunch in a bit.
Our next stop was the Rialto Bridge. It was so beautiful and, because we got there early, we beat the major crowds that we encountered later in the day.
After a few quick pics on the bridge, we started wandering our way through the small, crowded streets towards St. Mark’s Square. Thankfully there were many signs along the way, so it didn’t take too long to find it. After a few minutes of taking it all in and a multitude of pictures, we decided we had to go in Saint Mark’s Basilica.
As we headed in we followed the crowds up a narrow staircase leading to the balcony area around the outside of the Basilica. It only cost five euro to enter, and once we paid the fee and rounded the corner, it opened to the beautiful cathedral. The interior of the cathedral is based on a cross, with four domes overhead. Every inch of every wall and ceiling was covered with mosaics, telling the stories of the Bible. It was amazing to see just how detailed every scene was. Unfortunately, there was a no phone/photography rule, so I didn’t get any pictures of the inside. Google could probably help you out there, or better yet plan a trip to go see it yourself. You definitely won’t regret it. We then headed outside on the balcony for the panorama view of the square.
After enjoying everything the beautiful architecture and museums in the Basilica had to offer, we headed around the corner past Doge’s Palace to see the beautiful Bridge of Sighs. It was so unique and beautiful. Once we had seen all of the places on our list, we decided to wander back into the streets to find something delicious to eat for lunch, away from the tourist area.
A few moments into our walk, we stumbled upon Bacarando Restaurant. Often, you will find many restaurants offering a 15 euro lunch and sometimes dinner that includes a primi piatti and a secondi piatti (first and second course). Sometimes they even include wine and a side. At this particular restaurant, you could choose from three choices on each course. I decided on pasta with vegetables and chicken wings because at this point I was still hesitant on trying calamari. However, like I said earlier, after trying Mary Helen’s I wish I had gotten that instead.
After lunch, we decided to wander around the city and browse in various shops for the remainder of the day.
It just happened to be the first weekend of Carnival in Venice, so we had to find a mask to wear. While exploring the city, we came across a store, Atelier Marega, that had the most beautiful handmade masks. Once we made our decisions on our masks, we were ready to go see the exciting festivities.
We headed down toward the Rio di Cannaregio canal, where the Festa Veneziana on the water would take place. This event was a parade of boats and lights on the water, some floating in the air and others blowing fire. It was definitely something to see. If you ever get to go, be sure to get there early because if you are short like me, you won’t get to see much.
Once the parade was complete, we decided it was time for dinner. Thankfully we had made a reservation, so we didn’t have to fight the crowds too much. Once we were seated, the waiters brought us a glass of Prosecco, made in Venice, on the house. We also had to try a bottle of white wine from Venice, along with our bruschetta, fish, and tiramisu for dessert. Everything was delicious.
Before the we caught our train the next morning, we couldn’t leave without a gondola ride. Even though it can be a bit pricy, it is well worth the money; and we often found the price (80 euro) is for up to six people in the boat. So, if you take a trip to the beautiful city of Venice, definitely splurge on the gondola ride or make some friends and split it.
P.S. I can’t wait to go back in April. Venice has definitely not seen the last of this traveler!