Exploring Venice in one day seemed like an ambitious goal but, surprisingly, we managed to pull it off.
This was our first time in Venice and I knew I was going to love it the moment we stepped out of the train station. It’s just my kind of city, ancient with a lot of history, great architecture, art, colour. The architecture is amazing, a sight to behold. Venice has it’s own unique charm, It is meant to be a romantic destination, I guess it can be when you don’t take your children with you.
This year, we decided to stay in Bologna for our annual family holiday and explore Venice, Florence and Palma by train. We arrived in Venice at 10 am and explored the island right up on till we boarded the train back to Bologna at 7pm.
We started off by keeping to the left side of the canal and made our way along Rio Tera, briefly stopping at the supermarket to get some water because the weather was very hot. The first thing that surprised me was the crowds. I really did not expect there to be so many people. I’d seen glimpses of Venice in movies and has formed a fairy tale impression of the city. My imagination had taken me to a beautiful, romantic city where couples hold hands, take in the beauty of the city, eat, drink and merry. The crowds made it feel unromantic and very touristy. Toursty is what it is because Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
As we made our way along, we came across La Donatella Patisserie and popped in for a coffee and pastries. My plan was to sit down for a bit whilst we had our cappuccino and pastries, David on the other hand, had other ideas – there was to be no stopping to eat just yet, we had a lot to cover and we won’t be sitting till lunch time.
That gave me the hump, I looked at the array on offer longingly, nah, the delicious looking pastries are not something one should eat on the go, so I decided to skip breakfast and walk around hungry.
The next thing that surprised me were the stalls, I expected only to see nice little boutiques on clear streets. Market stalls didn’t feature in the image of Venice that I had created in my mind. I have nothing against market stalls (I quite like to have a good browse), it’s just that I didn’t expect to see any in Venice.
We walked past stalls and stores selling the most amazing looking masks. Venetian masks are typically worn during the annual Carnival of Venice. The carnival ends the Christian Lent period. The masks are great souvenirs.
We went over little pontes to get from one street to another, stopping top look over the pontes to see people in gondolas or little boats moving along streets from one end to the other. We watched how the little boats and gondolas transported both people and goods around the city. I even saw a traffic jam. 😂
Seeing how low the boats were, I hoped no one would suggest we get into one. It didn’t take long for David to ask if we wanted a ride, “don’t be a chicken” he said knowing what I was about to say. “Oh, all right! I’ll be bold, let’s go for it!” We approached the gondola service station and checked the prices, Kash took one look at the cost and said he wasn’t getting into one, he didn’t think the 20-30minute ride was worth the high price. I on the other hand think it’s nice to experience it at least once. We decided not to do the canal ride in the end because the children didn’t want to do it. That is for another time sans children.
I decided to stop at the Fondaco Dei Tedescho luxury departmental store and use the ladies. I was told the toilets were on the top floor. On getting there, we discovered that we could get an amazing view of the city from the terrace of the departmental store. The restaurant in the store is a great place to sit down, get some shade from the sun, relax and have a bite to eat or do some luxury goods shopping.
One of the nice things about Venice is that there is something for every budget if you plan to do some shopping. There are shops selling, clothing, shoes, gift items (like Murano glass) souvenirs etc.
View from the FDT departmental store terrace
We briskly made our way to the Basilica, briefly stopping to look over the pontes and peep at the side of the canal taking in great views of the city.
The Basilica di San Marco (cathedral Saint Mark) with it’s gothic style architecture is a spectacular sight. It’s exterior is covered in marble, intricate carvings, sculptures and religious paintings. We didn’t bother to go inside because of time constraints, taking in the beautiful exterior was enough on this trip.
The Rialto is another popular viewing point over the canal. It is also one of the main attractions in Venice.
The end of the day was fast approaching, we stopped at the Music museum to see Venetian musical instruments ( violin, cello, mandolin), a collection of masterpieces that belonged to the last 3 centuries and we went past the Michelangelo museum which was unfortunately, closing for the day.
Finally it was time for lunch, a very very very late lunch, so maybe I should call it dinner. Dinner was at Trattoria Casanova. The staff were pleasant and friendly and the food was good. When the bill came, we noticed that the fish was 4 times the price it was listed on the menu. That came as a surprise. The waiter then explained that the price of the fish (sea bass) on the menu is per 100grams, he said our sea bass came to 400 gram each (€35 each). A quick online search afterwards revealed that we were not the only ones who this happened to. The fish was good but not worth that price.
Over the Rialto it was for us again and straight to the station to catch our train back to Bologna.
The only thing I would have loved to see that we didn’t get a chance to see is the Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim collection. That will be for another day.
Want to see Venice in a day? Here are some tips.
- Start early
- Plan. Check the map and make a note of points of interest that you’d like to see.
- Execute your plan to the tee.
- Plan for lunch or dinner. And confirm prices to avoid misunderstanding.
- Make sure you wear comfortable shoes.