I’ll never forget that first deep breath I took in Venice as I paused on the Ponte Della Costituzione, overlooking the Grand canal.
I remember thinking to myself how beautiful this place was, it was exactly how I had imagined after browsing through hundreds of photos and videos online.
Watching gondolas effortlessly glide down the narrow canals, rays of blue and green hues from the water reflecting the light from the sky. Old crooked buildings of all colours, faded from the years of being beaten by sunlight.
Venice was a bustling city, a beautiful chaos, humming with hundreds of inaudible voices chattering away, the clack clack clack of the rolling suitcase wheel across the cobblestone pathway and a slight smell of salt in the air.
I knew there and then that I was supposed to be here.
Venice to me has always been a very alluring and fascinating place. A floating city made up of over 100 islands connected by over 170 bridges and canals, a geographically unique and wonderful place situated in the Northern Adriatic sea. Navigated by gondolas which have caressed the canals for over 10 centuries.
The winding and seemingly endless streets accompanied by piazzas scattered throughout, getting lost is certainly inevitable, every corner presenting a picturesque sight and surprise.
Venice certainly holds both a laid back as well as a romantic element to this city and offers such a rich history and culture.
For me, I was certainly excited to visit what Venice had to offer but I also explored a little further… deeper into some of the lesser known tourist spots.
So here are my list of highlights from my time in Venice.
1. Libereria Acqua Alta
One of the oldest and most unique bookshops in Venice, rooms loaded and piled high with an array of books to suit every need, dusty old classics and stacks of ancient travel guides and atlases can be spotted. One of the main rooms even including it’s very own book filled gondola proudly displayed to admire. A book lovers dream but also eye-catching to the casual browser.
2. Osteria al Bacco, Cannaregio A small family run restaurant a little off the beaten path, can be spotted mostly filled with locals. Serving real authentic Venetian cuisine. Be sure to bring your phrase book as the menu is written only in the native language. (The menus in the touristy eats are usually written in several languages) A laid back cool atmosphere and very reasonably priced.
3. Piazza San Marco – St Mark’s Square
When in Venice, even though a major tourist spot, I do highly recommend a visit to Saint Mark’s Church – San Marco Basilica. Home to the most valuable treasures of history, faith and stunning architecture. You simply cannot miss this, most streets around Venice include signposted directions towards St Mark’s Square, also a useful tip to follow if you get lost.
One for the photography lovers (to be honest all of Venice is) be sure to take time to visit the quaint island of Burano situated North East of Venice and can be accessed by boat or ferry. Burano is considered to be one of the moat colourful towns in the world with its streets upon streets of popping colours. Burano’s traditional industry is fishing and used to be its biggest business. Fun fact; the residents of Burano must seek government approval before painting their homes.
5. Ponte dell’Accademia
During my visit I could literally not move due to the swarms of tourists squirming their way through for a photo view (Rialto bridge was even worse) however take a closer look you will find rows up on rows of lovelocks affixed to the railings of Ponte dell’Accademia. Word has spread that the Venetian government plans to crack down and ban these as the weightload of this (already sinking city) is causing the bridge to weaken… so I’ve been told however in all fairness I do agree that this should be implemented.
6. Caletta Varisco
Did you know that the narrowest street in Venice is called Caletta Varisco and only has a width of 53cm
7. Ca’dario Palazzo
Also known as the curses palace, Palazzo Dario is a Renaissance building overlooking the grand canal is believed to be cursed, including a series of unexplainable deaths which occurred, here I’ll include a link on this intriguing history click here.
8. High tide
Known as Acqua Alta to the Venetians, the high tide commonly seen in St Mark’s Square where the entire floor surface if flooded. This is caused by conflicting winds from the Adriatic sea causing minor waves into the Venetian lagoon. Honestly I’ve witnessed this myself and have seen nothing else like it. It was a surprise to see the local staff sporting there wellies during lunch service.
9. Rialto Market
As a pescetarian myself I was really excited to explore Rialto Market and check out the pescaria and erbaria on offer. I found that the best time to visit was very early and get my hands on some of the best freshly caught fish from the Adriatic sea to take back to the hostel with me. Definitely a must do if your fascinated in the local lifestyle.
10. Cantina de Mori
A local hangout amongst natives and one of the oldest bars in Venice, cantina de Mori is a cosy wine bar and restaurant serving local favourites such as Cicetti – away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. I’m always a fan of this! Less crowds, more relaxing atmosphere and no extra fees/taxes.
My list of favourite places could literally go on all day however I condensed it down to just 10.
I do plan to write perhaps a second part to this topic later down the line.
However if there is anything you feel I’ve missed or should definitely check out then leave a comment below.
Happy travels, buona notte!