Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Travel :: Venice, Italy Part I

The last two days of our Italian vacation were spent in the beautiful floating city of Venice.  We had our reservations about visiting, nearly canceling our hotel twice due to all of the negative reviews we had heard {"Venice is overrated," "Venice is a huge tourist trap," "Venice is Disneyworld for adults"} from friends as well as travelers we met during our first two weeks in Italy.  Many said that the crowds made the city absolutely unbearable, and we wondered if it was even worthwhile going.  However, I have always dreamt of seeing Venice, so we decided to give it a shot and make the best of it.  And can I just tell you, that was probably one of the better travel decisions we have ever made?

From the moment we walked out of the train station and loaded our luggage into the water bus I knew Venice was special.  The water bus, while ridiculously crowded, went right down the Grand Canal.  It passed by tiny little canal "alleyways", under the Rialto Bridge, and by stunning hotels such as the Gritti Palace.  After making it to our stop and dragging our luggage down the tiny cobblestone streets and up and down quite a few bridges {what a workout!} we made it to our hotel, a tiny little guest house in an ancient building alongside a canal.  At this point we were both giddy with excitement and couldn't drop our luggage off fast enough.  Eager to explore Venice's winding alleyways, we headed out the door and towards Dorsoduro.

The first thing we decided was that Venice is undoubtedly beautiful.  The colorful buildings against the turquoise canals and bright blue sky made for nearly a perfect photo every shot.  The Gothic architecture - lancet arches combined with Byzantine and Moorish influences - made for intricate and stunning facades.  It is obvious that the buildings have withstood the hands of time, with their beautifully distressed doors, windows, and walls.  Every street you walk down is romantic and special.  I literally could have spent days and days aimlessly wandering through the city's magical alleyways.

After getting lost a couple of times we made it to the Ponte dell'Accademia, the bridge crossing the Grand Canal that connects the San Marco sestiere with Dorsoduro.  What a wonderful little neighborhood it was.  Much quieter than the area around Saint Marks, Dorsoduro was filled with unique shops, charming back streets, and famous sights such as the Church of San Sebastiano.  We walked out to the tip of the island and sat with our legs hanging down over the Grand Canal, watching the boats go by, and admiring the beauty of Venice.

We decided to head to the Rialto Bridge, and while admittedly quite stunning, unfortunately it was so packed with tourists that it took away quite a lot of the splendor.  Instead of braving the crowds we decided to meander down the canal to a cafe along the water for cappuccinos and picture perfect views of gondolas gliding majestically under the bridge.  Since we were in the San Polo area and it was nearly time for happy hour we decided to stop in a few pubs to participate in the Venetian tradition of cicchetti.  After work, Venetians stop by a pub {or two} for a drink and bite-sized appetizers, often fish or meat on a slice of baguette.  While quite frankly I found the cicchetti we ordered nearly inedible {I think we may have just have had bad luck picking out "good" pubs} it was still a wonderfully fun experience.

Our evening was spent having dinner at Impronta Cafe, a modern restaurant with a unique menu such as venison with basil ice cream {which Ryan ate} paired with more classic specialties like tagliatelle with pesto.  The meal was lovely and reasonably priced for Venice, and afterwards we decided to walk to St. Mark's Square to see the famed dueling orchestras.  We sat at Caffe Quadri, sharing a strawberry gelato sundae, and listening to the band play a mix of Italian classics and American love songs.  As the band played their last song at midnight we got up and danced under the stars.  It was pure magic, pure Venice.

6 comments:

  1. I think I'd be very much in love with Venice - it just seems so very enchanting, romantic, and charming! Need to make my way over!
    http://perpetuallycaroline.blogspot.com

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  2. What a lovely story and photos of Venice. Looks perfectly charming

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  3. I'm with you - I thought Venice was extra special. It was my favorite Italian city! I just couldn't fathom why people thought it was dirty, overrated, yada yada. Your photos are bringing back such good memories :) xo

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  4. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    i'm so glad to hear it! i wish we would have talked to more people like you before we left...literally in the cinque terre so many people we met were ripping on venice we considered cancelling our hotel and going to milan or lake como instead. while i would love to go to como someday i literally would have kicked myself for not visiting venice, there really is no where like it in the world :)

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  5. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    why thank you :)

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  6. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    to me, it seems like it would be impossible to not be in love with venice :)

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