You may have worked out from my Instagram or this blog post, that NM and I went for a week's holiday in Venice. I thought I would do a little post about our time there in case anybody is planning a trip and wants some tips and advice.
We decided for this trip to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel. Partly because hotels in Venice are pretty expensive and partly because we love food and we wanted to be able to buy and cook our own food from the local markets. We booked an apartment from this place - it was small but very central, perfect for two people and just what we wanted.
We are total food lovers, so when we travel food plays a big part in our plans and what we do! It can be hard to find good restaurants in Venice as there are just so many geared up for tourists that don't serve anything very special or that appetising. Our general rule was if they had photographs of the food in the windows we would give it a miss. We were lucky to have a few restaurant recommendations from friends which served us well, and I would definitely recommend doing a bit of research about places to eat. The other thing we discovered early in the week was Cicchetti which is basically an Italian form of tapas. It's common for Italians to head to their favourite Bacari for Cicchetti and a glass of wine or prosecco throughout the day. When we discovered it we realised this was much more our sort of vibe rather than fancy meals out, so we would plan our days around various Cicchetti stops and on the last day decided to do a Cicchetti crawl where we visited a few great Bacari's that we had seen throughout the week.
The other thing we did in Venice was head to the Rialto market (which opens in the mornings) and bought fresh ingredients to make our own dinner. We got some fantastic sardines and king prawns and made a really lovely pasta dish. The seafood in Venice really is pretty spectacular, and so if you enjoy cooking and are staying in an apartment with a kitchen I would totally recommend this!
Also GELATO - eat it, lots of it...it is amazing. (especially the pistachio flavour) - We went to: Gelateria Nico
On our way to Venice we were debating on whether we should buy a week's Vaparetto pass (it works out cheaper than buying a ticket each day or for each trip) - but we decided not to in the end and I'm so glad we did. Because our apartment was pretty central in the San Marco sestiere (district) we were able to easily walk to all of the 6 different districts to explore them each day. We found that we had no need to take the Vaparetto. Going everywhere on foot ended up saving us quite a bit of money. We did get a Vaparetto pass for one day and that was to go to the islands further out to the North, called Murano and Burano. It was totally worth a day trip as they are absolutely stunning islands - especially Burano which is very small but full of brightly coloured houses.
I would definitely recommend getting the Vaparetto for at least one of the days you are there because it is nice to see the city from the Grand Canal - even though the boats are often very crowded.
I am hoping that all the walking we did cancelled out all the eating and drinking we did. We did find we had to make stops to just sit and watch the world go by because if we walked for too long we both got tired and grumpy. ha.
Things to do
There are lots of things to do in Venice and to be honest we didn't really do any of them. We needed a chilled week and so we decided to do Venice our way. This consisted mostly of walking around and exploring the different districts, stopping off for food and drinks when we wanted and just generally taking it easy. As I mentioned above we did go to Burano and Murano one day which was really fun. Venice is SO touristy. It kind of bothered me a lot at the beginning (even though I know, I know, I was one of the tourists) - I think because Venice is not that big the concentration of tourists is just way more intense, and everywhere you go there are people speaking different languages and taking pictures of themselves with selfie sticks. As the week went on I was more chilled about it and just embraced it though. We would often try and go off the beaten track to area's that were more residential, a lot quieter and a lot less touristy. We went to two art galleries when we were there. The Peggy Guggenheim and also the Ca'Pesaro where they had an exhibition of modern art called 'Rauchenberg to Jeff Koons'. I loved this exhibition, partly because it was full of artists that I love, but also the building was spectacular and there weren't loads of people there. I would recommend the Peggy Guggenheim too but it was much busier so it was harder to really appreciate the works of art.
We decided not to go on a Gondola ride while we there...some people have their hearts set on it, and if that is you, I would say go for it. I enjoyed watching them go by - those Gondola men have some serious skills navigating the canals but yeah actually getting on one didn't appeal.
There are lots of shops selling leather made goods, glass goods, Venetian masks and things like that, and also much to my delight stationery shops selling absolutely stunning hand printed papers and things made out of those hand printed papers. haha - I am such a geek but these are the shops that got me really excited. I spent all week going into them and then at the end of the week found a shop that had a beautiful range of handprinted and machine printed paper, so I treated myself to 6 sheets.
Venice is a truly magical city. It is just like you have seen in the films - there is a stunning view around every corner and it is unlike anywhere else in the world. It is the most touristy place I have ever been to too, but I loved exploring this city. Lots of people were surprised when we said we were going for a week, and on reflection I can see why, you could totally get a sense of what Venice is like in a few days, but we took things at a slow pace and wandered around in the sunshine and had a really lovely relaxing time. If there is anything else you want to know feel free to ask in the comments below...I might not know the answer but will do my best to help!