This post was most recently updated on August 24th, 2016
I’d always wanted to go to Venice. Ever since I was young, I had dreamt of wandering through a city with streets of water and sleek gondolas for transportation. A centuries-old city founded on the sheer grit of its inhabitants. The more I learned about Venice, the more I wanted to see it for myself.
My opportunity came in 2014 when my daughter and son-in-law invited my husband and I to accompany them on a two-week tour of northern Italy. We would have a day in Venice! Part of the adventure was trying to cut costs where we could. When we learned my husband had hotel points we could use in Padova (Padua), Italy, just outside of Venice, we opted to stay there and “commute” to Venice. Looking back, I wish we’d used those points somewhere else and actually spent the night in Venice. I would have loved to see the city lit up at night. However, the bus stop was just across the street from our hotel, and it was very convenient to use the bus (and only 5 euros).
We left our hotel (AC Padova) early, caught the bus, and arrived in Venice before 8:30 am. We stopped quickly at a bakery to eat breakfast and use their free wifi, then rushed off to begin exploring Venice. The advice we’d been given: “Get lost!”. So that’s exactly what we aimed to do.
The only thing on our agenda with a set time was visiting St. Mark’s Basilica with special skip-the-line tickets we had purchased online for only 2 euros — worth their weight in gold! (The free line to enter the basilica can be a thousand people long.) You can buy the tickets here.
Otherwise, we had until 8:00 pm (the last return bus to Padova) to wander around Venice. The skies were overcast when we arrived, and we did have several periods of drizzling and even pouring rain. But we made the best of it, and only gave up when our feet had had enough!
As we headed out, we noticed many themes in Venice. Masks and lace, alleys and bridges, beautiful ironwork and balconies, unique mailboxes and doorbells, glass and leather, tourists vs locals, and lots of little surprises to delight the eye. I’d love to share them with you!
(click on any photo to see full-size)
1. Shopping in Venice
2. Venice Locals
3. The Tourists
4. Beautiful Details
5. Alleys and Bridges
6. My Favorites
I loved my day in Venice! It was magical. If I had to choose my favorite day in Italy, I think it was this one. But then, I probably said that about Cinque Terre and Lake Como too! We ate wonderful margherita pizzas for lunch sitting at a tiny counter out of the rain. We shopped for lace bookmarks, leather handbags, and fringed scarves, sampled tomatoes and fruit from the farmers’ market, enjoyed gelato, and took tons of photos (can’t you tell?). We toured the gorgeous St. Mark’s Basilica and walked on raised wooden walkways to avoid the flooding water. (A lot of buildings in Venice are slowly sinking). We were so sad we couldn’t take photos inside. But I did find this photo on Wikipedia, taken by Ricardo André Frantz:
We walked down alleys only 3 feet wide and ducked under arches too short for my 6’4″ tall husband. There was always a canal or bridge within sight! At one point we came to a building with three windows on an upper floor, each with a songbird in a cage. My son-in-law began whistling, and the birds mimicked his tune!
We opted not to ride in a gondola (mostly because of the rain), but we did ride on the vaporetto after our feet wore out. We headed back to Padova to search out a restaurant where we could sit and rest for the evening.
My day in Venice was absolutely wonderful! If you’ve been to Venice, what did you like best? And if you haven’t been, what do you dream about doing?
Want to read about all of our adventures in Italy?