I have just returned home from backpacking around Italy for 2 weeks, stopping in Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples.
My first stop in Italy was that of Venice. I was extremely excited to visit this exquisite city and I was not disappointed. We stayed in the Cannaregio area, in a hotel called Villa Rosa which had a traditional Venetian decor which I thought made our stay a bit more special. I think staying in this area was a good choice, as it was within walking distance to San Marco square, but also allows you to explore other areas on the way which I liked.
On our first day in Venice we walked over to St Mark’s Square, via the Rialto Bridge, which was unfortunately under reconstruction and so was concealed from view.
Once we arrived at the square, which we found with relative ease thanks to the signs dotted around on buildings, we went to visit the Basilica. Due to a lack of forethought, I hadn’t dressed appropriately to visit a place of worship, and so had to splash out and buy a rather attractive cloak for 1 euro to cover my shoulders and knees. St Mark’s Basilica was just as exquisite on the inside as it is impressive on the outside. We did have to queue for the best part of an hour to get inside but it was worth the wait.
For lunch we had a pot of takeaway pasta for 5 euro. I had a vegetable one and Marcus had carbonara. The pasta was nothing special but for the price it was what was expected.
In the afternoon, we went to have a look at the Bridge of Sighs, and then went on a gondola ride. I had heard mixed reviews about going on the iconic, but rather expensive boat ride, but we decided that you cant go to Venice and not. And i am so glad we did. To escape the bustle of Venice and herds of tourist just for 30 mins whilst floating around the beautiful alleyways was incredibly relaxing, and romantic. To enjoy this experience, it did cost 80 euro between us, but it is an experience I would fully recommend to anyone going to Venice.
On our second day in Venice we went back to st. marks square, although we were slightly hindered by the fact that the mosquito had had a field day in the evening and my ankle had completely swollen up.
Our first stop of the day was the Doge’s Palace, but to get to it we walked through the Rialto market, which was filled with freshly caught fish, and lots of fruit and veg. I found the place intriguing, especially when walking over the Bridge of sighs to get over to the prisons.
In the afternoon, we went to Museum Correr, which was including in the ticket for the Palazzo Duccale for 11 euro. The Museum was very interesting to look around and filled the afternoon.
On our walk back we went via the Frari Church, although we did not go inside.
For dinner, we stayed in Canareggio but ventured a little further and found a restaurant that overlooked a smaller canal. I had a fresh tomato and basil spaghetti and it tasted lovely. We also shared a bottle of prosecco between the two of us and we had a very enjoyable evening watching the sunset over Venice.
On our last full day in the beautiful city we decided to explore a little bit more of Venice and take the water bus to Lido. As we were only planning on going there and back it was quite expensive, at the price of 7 euro each way. (Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding the vaporetto)
Our plan was to go to one of the free beaches on Lido and have a day relaxing before we set off to Florence. Stupidly, we didn’t think to fully prepare for a beach day and forgot to bring a towel. However, we managed to hire one at the beach for 2.50. The beach was very packed, but the sea was nice to have a dip in as the temperature started to rise.
For dinner, we headed to the area around the Rialto bridge so that we could eat our dinner overlooking the Grand Canal. I had spinach and ricotta canneloni, and I was a bit disappointed as it didn’t taste particularly fresh and was served suspiciously quick. I suppose this was to be expected in such a tourist trap, but nevertheless I would suggest that you should only eat on the Grand Canal if you want to enjoy the view, not for the quality of your meal.
After, we spotted a little bar on our walk back and decided to have a taste of Venice and enjoy a glass of Aperol spritz and Prosecco before heading home for a good nights rest.
I have to say one of my favourite activities in Venice was just for-going a map and just getting lost in its maze of alleyways and dead-ends. I felt that I saw more of the real Venice that way, rather than just sticking around the tourist areas. I would strongly recommend going off the beaten track if you ever decide to visit this amazing city.