Travel Diaries: Venice

We’re kicking off the week with another travel post!

The morning sun just starting to kiss the canals of Venice.

A couple of weeks ago I told you all about the first portion of our Italy trip in my Travel Diaries: Tuscany post, and today it’s time for me to tell you all about our second leg, Venice!


I had been to Venice before, but no one else in the group (except my Aunt Carol) had. As we all know, it’s an unforgettable town and, albeit overly crowded most days out of the year, it’s a place you definitely have to visit at least once in your lifetime (and before it sinks!) When I found out Venice was only a two-and-a-half hour train ride from Florence, I knew this would be the perfect place to break up our trip.

So, without further ado, here are all the deets!

A gondola travels up one of the many canals of Venice.

WHERE WE STAYED

Since we were traveling in a group of seven, we decided it would be most economical to rent a multi-bedroom apartment that could accommodate us rather than having to book upwards of four separate hotel rooms at any one establishment. In all of our travels, we’ve found that AirBnB’s (our other vacation home rentals) are by far the cheapest option when vacationing with a large party. We ended up finding this five bedroom apartment in the Dorsoduro region of Venice, which I must say was pretty ideal location-wise. It’s not a super-touristy area, but only about a 15-minute walk away from all of the city’s hot spots, like the Piazza San Marco.

The apartment itself had tons of old-school charm, not new and updated by any means, but hey, major points for showers larger than the typical submarine-like Euro showers you see most places. One thing to keep in mind when renting a Venice apartment is that often the “first level” is actually the second level. Due to the frequent flooding, there are really no residences on the ground floor. The narrow flight of stairs up to the apartment was a little challenging for some in our group (bad knees abound) but we managed. Also keep in mind that Venice is not very handicap accessible, and you will not likely find elevators in any of these apartment buildings.

Okay, on to what we did and, more importantly, where we ate!

Every afternoon in Venice requires a big scoop of gelato!

WHERE WE WENT (AND ATE!)

Ristoteca Oniga

We stopped here for lunch one day (it was recommended by our AirBnB host) and I just have one thing to say about it – calamari. It came as a huge serving and was fried in the lightest, airiest batter. They even fried the arugula they served it over!

The delicious calalmari at Ristoteca Oniga in Venice.

Ca’ Rezzonico

We visited this museum of 18th century Venice per my mom’s request and I have to say I was unexpectedly impressed. It’s basically an old palace that you can walk through with gorgeous frescoes and furniture, different themes in every room. We saw some of the prettiest blown glass chandeliers here!

The beautiful frescoes and blown glass chandeliers at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

Beautiful 16th century furniture at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

A gorgeous blown glass chandelier at Ca' Rezzonico in Venice, Italy.

Ristorante al Gondolieri

We settled on this restaurant after searching Yelp for something on the water very nearby to our apartment (some in the group were a little weary from exploring all day.) Although there was no outdoor seating and there was a small miscommunication with our reservation, the servers were incredibly nice to accommodate us and I must say the food was amazing. A bit pricier than most of our other meals, but in my opinion it was worth it!

Savory chocolate ravioli at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

My simple yet delicious pasta dish at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

The men enjoying their wine at Ristorante Al Gondolieri, Venice, Italy.

Piazza San Marco

Just about everyone knows that this is a must-visit for anyone visiting Venice. Piazza San Marco is home to the Basilica di San Marco, one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen, and also the Campanile di San Marco (the square’s massive bell tower) and the futuristic (for its time) Clock Tower. Two tips when visiting this area:

  1. Don’t plan on eating in the square unless you want to blow your entire vacation dining budget (we’re talking orange juice that costs 15 Euros.)
  2. Be sure to visit the Loggia dei Cavalli when touring the Basilica di San Marco. This is the huge terrace that overlooks the entire square and is flanked by a herd of bronze horses. Truly breathtaking!

Admiring the view from the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, Italy.

Looking up at the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy.

View from the Loggia dei Cavalli at the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, Italy.

Aside from these highlights, we really just wandered around, stopping to eat gelato, shop, and pop into random places that caught our eye whenever we felt like it. Cappucinos and doughnuts/croissants every morning were a “must” as well.

Doughnuts and croissants, the breakfast staple in Venice!

Cappucinos are the way to go when in Venice!

One thing I would say about Venice (which you may guess from my recap) is to not go into it with a strict schedule. We planned to arrive at Piazza San Marco right when the Basilica opened so we wouldn’t have the WORST crowds or have to stand in an ultra-long line, but that was really the only thing we had planned. It’s such a busy city with so much going on that sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow and see where the wind (haha I just accidentally typed wine) takes you.

View of Venice from the water taxi on the way to the airport.

The hubby enjoying a Venetian spritz, the classic aperitif of Venice!

Classic bridge shot of the hubby and I over the canals of Venice, Italy.

Tell me, have you been to Venice before? What did we miss?

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