A Travellerspoint blog

VENICE, ITALY

Wandering Venice's alleys and crossing its many bridges, riding ferries, trying every gelato flavor I could, and gazing down at Basilica San Marco from atop the Campanile.

overcast 17 °C

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Italy!! Beautiful, beautiful Italy! This was my first time to Europe and it didn't disappoint. One of the easiest countries I've ever traveled in. I landed in Rome, found the Trenitalia kiosk in the airport, purchased my one-way ticket to Venice for $127CAD (make sure you know which terminal in Venice you want to arrive in - there is more than one. Stazione Santa Lucia is the terminal that brings you right to the Grand Canal), then hopped on the train from the airport to Rome's main terminal, and transferred to my train to Venice. Sounds complicated, but it was actually quite easy. Jet lag knocked me out for the 3.5hr ride. But when I arrived in Venice and walked out of the train station, BAM, I was right on the Grand Canal! You will see a ferry terminal in front of you. This is where you buy ferry passes. There are no buses, no cars, not even bikes cuz theres too many stairs and bridges everywhere. Ferries are like buses here - they ply the Grand Canal in both directions, all day long, stopping at various points along the way.

Below is a photo of the ferry terminal near San Marco.
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I purchased a 1 day pass (24hrs from the time you validate your pass) for 20E (euros). Single rides cost 7E each, so if you plan on doing any sightseeing, it is worth it to get a pass. There were also 3 day and 5 day passes available. The best way to get to know the area is to hop on a ferry and stay on it for a full circuit, about 1hr, around the whole Grand Canal. Use it as a cheap sightseeing cruise, but also pay attention to where it stops and what there is to see at each stop.

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I had booked a little hotel in the San Marco area. So I took the ferry there, and then walked to my hotel. If you are expecting streets in a grid-like fashion with well marked street signs, think again! Thankfully Venezians are friendly and helpful. Not all speak English, so have the name of your hotel & address written down. If your hotel is located right on a canal, it is possible to hire a very expensive water taxi to take right to your hotel.

The beautiful Doge's Palace in the San Marco area overlooking the Grand Canal
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I spent my first day wandering around the San Marco area, seeing the Doge's Palace, Basilica San Marco, Piazza San Marco, and the Campanile (bell tower).
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This is the view from atop the Campanile, overlooking the Piazza San Marco. It costs 8E for the elevator ride to the top, and you can stay up there for as long as you want. I unfortunately had a foggy day :(
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The huge bell! Being in the piazza when it is rung is awesome!
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View over Venice and the domes of the basilica.
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The Campanile
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Basilica San Marco was sadly covered in scaffolding, plus the fog, so I didn't get any photos of it that I like.
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Once a day the tide comes in and floods the piazza. These walkways are set out for people to walk on without getting wet shoes. But they are crowded and slow going.
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Then I wandered the maze of alleys, canals, and bridges. I tried using a map but its pointless. Just wander. You're never really lost cuz theres always someone to ask, and you will eventually come out at some point on the Grand Canal ( from there just hop a ferry to where you want to go). Venice is made up of 117 islands all connected by bridges! It is such a pretty, picturesque place, with bridges, canals, old doors & windows, cathedrals, and boats around every corner.

All the alleys/streets are this narrow, except a few of the more main alleys, but not by much!
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The canals can be quite crowded, not at all like movies make it seem!
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Overpriced street-side cafes can be found everywhere.
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Delicious gelato can also be found everywhere, and only 1.50E for a small :)
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This one is carmello e amaretto, yum yum yum!
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I stumbled upon the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.
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I couldn't resist taking a photo of this cutie :)
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The water comes right to the doors. Locals park their boats along side their homes.
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Its such a different way of life here without proper streets and cars/buses. Everything is done by boat! Below are photos of a garbage boat, and a delivery boat. I also saw a boat ambulance!
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Souvenir stands were mostly found in the San Marco area, and Rialto area ... the 2 most touristy areas.
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Then I took a ferry over to the Rialto Bridge. What a gong show! I had to fight for a spot on the bridge to get a photo. Worst place ever, so over-rated.
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View from atop the Rialto Bridge - not even worth it. Even the canal is crowded here!
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Gondeliers awaiting customers. You'll never see a local taking one of these, as they are insanely overpriced and basically for tourists only. Approx $150 for 30min!!!
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Although overpriced, they are very photogenic, as they are Venice's icon :)
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SO MANY PEOPLE! Get up and out the door well before 9am. 9am is when tour groups start arriving in hordes and overtaking the place. Prior to 9am you'll have the place to yourself.
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This is Piazza San Marco at 7am ... peaceful compared to 2hrs later.
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The basilica in the early morning
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The Bridge of Sighs was within walking distance from my hotel ... and the lookout point was ... you guessed it ... always crowded with people taking turns posing in front of it, or trying to capture a photo of a gondola passing beneath it.
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On my 2nd day in Venice I walked over to the Ponte dell'Accademia (the wooden bridge) for this iconic view over the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
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I took one more circuit of the Grand Canal before getting off at the train station and heading to Naples.
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That's all for Venice! Although crowded and overpriced, I absolutely loved it! No matter what time of year you go there will always be tourists. Why? Cuz its Venice, that's why!

Posted by ChantelleS 19:00 Archived in Italy Tagged venice boat italy bridge canal roman europe

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