I love using my blog as a platform to inspire others to go out and explore the world around them. One of the things I'm passionate about is promoting places that aren't as touristy and that aren't necessarily mentioned in any guide books. So today I thought I would talk about a city that hardly gets visited by any tourists and that you have probably never heard about before: Venice.
Oh well. I remember sitting in the kitchen of the hostel I was working at in Nice and chatting to other volunteers from all over the world. One of them happened to be from Rome and when I told him about my travel plans for Milan and Venice he bluntly told me that Milan 'really wasn't that beautiful' and that Venice 'was pretty fake'. Amazing, exactly what I wanted to hear. His honesty made me laugh though and after he realised that his words might not contribute to my excitement about travelling Italy he quickly added that Milan was a really fun city and that Venice was certainly stunningly beautiful. Well that sounds a lot better. (And it turned out to be true.) Anyway, Venice was one of the cities that had been on my travel bucket list since I first made one so the prospect of finally seeing this place got me really excited. Looking back I can't believe that I only spent one full day in Venice - especially considering that I took over 800 pictures. But if you've been to Venice yourself, you will understand - there are literally no places that aren't picture worthy. So if you want to see what I was up to in Venice, continue reading (or just look at the photos). x
A few days before travelling to Venice I checked the weather forecast and I wish I hadn't because it predicted rain all day every day. Luckily that never happened and the only rain we got was a quick shower on Wednesday evening. Apart from that it was sunny and hot, exactly how you'd want Italian weather to be. Besides, rain in Venice feels really strange as the city is entirely based on water anyway. I have to admit that it doesn't make Venice look any less stunning though, instead it adds to its romantic and slightly mysterious character (or have I seen too many movies about the city?). On my first (and only) proper day in Venice I decided to buy a day travel card so that I could use the vaporettos and of course the train to get into the city. I was really happy about my decision as exploring Venice by boat was a lot of fun and it really made you feel like you were part of the city. I first took a vaporetto all the way down Canal Grande and luckily, the boat was driving really slowly so I had the opportunity to take plenty of pictures of the Ca D'Oro, the Casino and all the different houses and palaces including Palazzo Grassi which stood out from the other ones. Despite taking a ridiculous amount of pictures I also put my camera away at times, trying to soak in the vibes of the city and to fully appreciate the beauty that was laid out in front of me. Without exaggerating, exploring Canal Grande by boat was hands down the most breath-taking experience of my life and this alone made me fall in love with the city. No matter where you looked, the architecture was stunning and I felt like being part of a surreal world, a fairytale almost. I also got really excited at the sight of Rialto Bridge although it was under construction. It is crazy how you hear about these famous sights and then suddenly get to see them in real life and they are even more beautiful than you expected.
I exited the vaporetto at Piazza San Marco which is considered to be the heart of Venice and fun fact: it is also one of the most instagrammed places in the entire world and I can definitely see why. Going back to my introduction, Piazza San Marco is flooded by tourists and getting pictures of the buildings can be challenging, especially if you are trying to take one of the Bridge of Sighs - but who doesn't love a good challenge, right? Apart from seeing the Bridge of Sighs (which you can see in the picture below) I also admired the stunning architecture of Doge's Palace, of the clock tower and of course of the Basilica which really stands out from the other building due to its detailed architecture and paintings. It was also possible to go inside but I decided not to as the queue was so long that it reached the quay (and the piazza isn't that small.) To get the full Venice experience I bought some lunch and sat down at a corner of the piazza - I just sat there for a while, indulging into my food, taking in the atmosphere of this gorgeous city and watching people stroll by. If I lived in Venice I would make this a habit.
After lunch I decided to take the lift up Campanile, a tower that is located at the Piazza San Marco. I had to queue for about half an hour but it was definitely worth the wait as the view from the tower was simply stunning. What surprised me most was that I couldn't see any of the little canals from up there, if you didn't look at Canal Grande or the sea Venice just looked like any other Italian city. And in a way, Venice is your typical Italian city being home to amazing food and great architecture - well and then there are some canals that just add that extra bit to this place. Anyway, seeing Venice from a different perspective made me like it even more and I had to squeeze myself to realise that this wasn't just a dream. My favourite view from the tower was the view over Canal Grande and Santa Maria della Salute, the white cathedral you can see in the first picture - but we'll come back to this one a bit later.
After seeing over the rooftops of Venice I decided to take full use of my travel card and explore one of the islands. In the end I settled on Murano and therefore took a vaporetto to get there. Arriving at this island I couldn't believe I was only 30 minutes away from the city centre - everything felt different and definitely a lot more relaxed. After crowded Venice, this was the perfect break. I didn't have anything particular in mind so I just wandered around, took a few pictures and finally sat down near the water to rest my legs and just process everything I had seen over the last few hours. It honestly felt surreal. Just like it felt surreal that Murano belong to Venice, it rather felt like visiting a tiny fishermen's village in rural Italy. I really appreciated the difference though as Venice and its beauty can be overwhelming at times. Murano is actually famous for its production of glass products, hence the beautiful blue star. I was tempted to buy some candy made out of glass but successfully reminded myself that I was travelling on a budget.
After visiting Murano I took another vaporetto from San Marco to Salute, short for Santa Maria della Salute to visit the church and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection which was located nearby. Seeing this collection was rather pricey (9 Euros) but definitely worth it as it consisted of truly inspiring paintings and the location was beautiful itself, a big garden attached to a house with a view over Canal Grande. After admiring her collection I sat outside and wondered if Peggy had done exactly the same when she was still alive. If my house had such an amazing view, I would spend all day sitting outside watching boats drive by and tourists being in awe. As I was visiting the museum it started pouring down so I stayed there for a while taking shelter from the rain feeling slightly enclosed by water. Luckily it stopped after half an hour and I got on a vaporetto again going up north, direction Rialto Bridge. It was already half 6 by the time I arrived so I spent the evening taking a walk along Canal Grande, eating incredibly delicious pasta and admiring about every single bridge I passed. When I'm reflecting on my trip to Venice I can say two things with certainty: 1. Venice is definitely the most beautiful city I haver ever seen and 2. a holiday there doesn't have to cost a lot of money. The volunteer from Rome told me the best thing one could do in Venice was just walk around and this turned out to be a perfect piece of advice. Because not only is Venice a very walkable city it is also a city where you can find beauty at every single corner and in the narrowest alleys.