As a birthday surprise for Mike, Wendy had booked him a holiday to Italy.
First stop, Venice.
Venice has managed to keep its romantic charm despite the 20 million visitors each year. It’s a beautiful city full of tradition, history, and beauty. Although it’s a small city by global standards, the many canals and colourful buildings make it seem much bigger than it is.
We were only in Venice for a few days, but we did manage to see most things.
Piazza San Marco
This is the central tourist area and is home to many of Venice’s famous landmarks. It’s a bustling place day and night. Make sure you keep an eye on your belongings as there are many pickpockets and opportunists around. There are also many restaurants/bars/cafes dotted around this area and as expected they charge triple the prices of comparable places which are less centralised. However, they do have live bands playing at night and it is a lovely place to sit and drink if you are willing to put up with the prices.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
This is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is a grand, beautiful building which is decorated in the Byzantine architecture and is paved with many gold fixtures inside and out to represent Venetian wealth and power.Inside, you will find many gold domes with mosaics on the inside which portray different acts. Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside the church so here are some taken from the internet.
Doges Palace was formerly home to the Doge of Venice and sits next to St Mark’s Basilica. It is decorated in a Venetian Gothic style and contains many different rooms which were used as part of the judicial system.
The decor inside is again very Venetian, which means there is gold, gold, and more gold. In every room, there will be some sort of gold (except the prisons) and many painting/statues which represent justice. Some of the rooms are extremely mesmerizing and the attention to detail in the paintings are exceptional.
Bridge of Sighs
A famous bridge which connects the prisons and to Doges Palace. The name was given as this was the view that prisoners last saw before being put into jail and were assumed to have one last sigh of the beautiful city. If you go to Doges, you will have access to go over the bridge to see what prisoners saw.
We did the above activities as part of a guided tour through a company called tiqets. We decided to buy the tickets for skip the line for both St Mark’s and Doges Palace which included a guided tour. We would highly recommend doing a tour as it provides you with so much history and information. Our guide had excellent English and covered many topics. As part of the tour, every person is given a headset which connects to the tour guide. This means you don’t have to stand so close to the guide to hear everything. The group consisted of around 25 people which was a decent size. If you don’t do the tour, then you should definitely buy skip the line tickets as the queues are humongous. You will be waiting a long time in the blistering heat otherwise. Just remember to turn up on time otherwise the group will leave without you. Our ticket also included access to 3 other museums which is valid for 3 months, but we didn’t have enough time.
The Grand Canal is the major transport route for Venice. As there are no roads in Venice, everything is conducted through boats; public transport, deliveries, and the emergency services. A great was to explore the canal is either by a gondola ride or walking along the edge.
The gondola rides can be taken from all around Venice. The prices also seem to be the same, but you may be able to get a cheaper deal online if you book in advance. We decided on a 30-minute ride, which cost 80 Euros. It is quite expensive, but we really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. A gondola also holds 6 people, so if you are in a big group then it would work out cheaper. The ride itself took us round the smaller canals to the grand canal and past Rialto bridge.
As fun as Venice was, it is not a place that we would be visiting again. It’s also quite a small place so most people wouldn’t need more than 3 or 4 days to see the main sights. If history/art is more your thing then you will probably need a bit longer.