Venice, Italy

Ahh, beautiful Venice!

Last weekend we whisked off to meet some friends at the beginning of their summer holiday, and (if I do say so myself) we kicked it off pretty well! The company, the scenery, the weather, the wine… it was all fantastic.

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Here are a few reflections from our weekend in Italy.

The streets of Venice are really beautiful… and you WILL get lost. 

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That’s part of the fun though (until you’ve been walking for an hour and still haven’t reached your destination). Long story short, get ready to get lost despite signs like ‘per (to) Rialto’ and ‘per San Marco’ guiding you to various parts of the city. We heard it’s easy to walk in circles, and it’s true, so if you’re on a time schedule I would suggest aiming to be there 15 min. before you’re supposed to.

Additionally, don’t seek out the Rialto bridge because

You will cross the Rialto 15,000x in your attempt to navigate the city.

And if you’re very lucky you’ll get to drag your 25kg (50lbs) suitcase up and over on multiple occasions.

but no worries, because when your lost and out of breath…

There is never a bad time for wine and gelato! 

All day. Every day.

Get a little turned around trying to find your AirBNB at midnight? Gelato will fix that.

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28°C (83°F), you’re out of water and you’re only halfway through your walking tour?

Wine is the answer!

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And yes, Venice is crowded, but

If you wander off the beaten path (aka: point number one – get lost) you can find yourself all alone.  

For instance, we wandered to Campo Santa Margherita where it was clear that there were fewer tourists and more students/actual residents. Here, we found a cocktail bar and GUESS WHAT! The bartender’s girlfriend (6 degrees of separation, I know) was from Wilmington, NC and he was flying to Charlotte (my hometown) next week to visit her! What a small world.

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and speaking of finding cool places.

Walking tours are the way to go. 

While the tour we chose this time wasn’t too rich in the history of Venice (in fact, we didn’t really learn anything) we were taken to some places in the city we would have never found on our own. Such as this really cool art shop in the Jewish Ghetto where we ended up purchasing two paintings.

One was titled ‘Cats of the Ghetto’. I mean come on – I had to have it.

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We also walked through a square which was once Muslim, as evidenced (I don’t remember why) by limestone carvings on the wall. Interestingly enough, all of them had their noses broken off. We saw this in Egypt too, for example with the Sphinx, where the pieces of the noses were broken off for luck. Here, one guy had his broken nose replaced with a brass one. Now, it’s good luck to touch the nose.

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We also saw one of two remaining bridges in the entire city without railings (parapet), got a secluded view from a monastery, saw some interesting art, and ended with a spectacular view from above.

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Also, the internet did not lie to me.

If possible, buy your tickets to the major sights online and visit after 2pm.

We pre-purchased our tickets online for Basilica San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica) and for Doge’s Palace. For both, we went around 4pm and walked straight in.

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The Bridge of Sighs

And no, we didn’t go up the bell tower in St. Mark’s Square. We did, however, take the water bus across the lagoon to San Giorgio Maggiore and climb (lol ok not climb – elevator-ed) up it’s bell tower for a fantastic view over the main island, and the surrounding ones. Again, thank you internet for that suggestion!

View from the San Giorgio bell tower back towards the main island.
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And finally,

No, we didn’t ride a gondola. 

A gondola ride station with San Giorgio in the background.

To be perfectly honest, we talked about it and voted against it.

1) It’s expensive. €80 for 30 min (for up to 6 people). For us – €20 per person. Which we would have gladly shelled out if it hadn’t been for my next point.

2) Everyone looked BORED. Seriously. Maybe it was the heat? Or the fact that all the gondolas seem to take the same route, so you end up in a traffic jam. Who knows.

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Perhaps if we had ventured to a more quiet street we could have found a ‘road less traveled’ gondola route, but for us, it just wasn’t worth it.

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So, in a nutshell, that was our trip! We really enjoyed Venice, and even more so that we got to explore it with friends! We miss you guys already! 🙂

Shane should be making a video of our trip. Until then,

Tot ziens!

Whitney

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We are two Americans living in the Netherlands with our fat cat, Meatball. The Shwits is a diary of our time abroad!

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