The most romantic city in the world was our final destination on our nine day cruise around the Mediterranean Sea. We arrived in the morning and left in the evening, which was not nearly enough time to enjoy the city’s sights. Even when Adam and I visited Murano a month later we were only in Venice for a few hours. With both visits combined, we managed to enjoy one full day in Venice and made the most of our precious time.
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We arrived at Venice’s Cruise Terminal, and took a metro to Venice’s train station to drop off our luggage.
Tip: If you are traveling in Europe with luggage and want to store it somewhere, most train stations will have a place to store your luggage for a fee. It is convenient and easy when you are city hopping as your transportation and luggage are both in one place.
Once we made the proper arrangements with our luggage at the train station, we were ready to sightsee. However, the main sights are wayyyy across the city. So, with a lot of people doing math and talking to locals we came to the conclusion that a water taxi would be the fastest route to get from A to B. With the help of my Italian dad and uncle, they were also able to negotiate the price down to where it would cost the same as taking the water bus. Way to go boys! For only $10 each person we were on our way to Piazza San Marco!
When you come to Venice one of the most beautiful aspects of the city is their canals and more specifically, the famous gondola rides. Everyone wants to enjoy the romantic gondola, but to be honest we enjoyed the water taxi so much that Adam and I did not even do a gondola ride when we visited Venice the second time around. The water taxi was an amazing experience. The boat may have looked small, but all eleven of us fit more than comfortably in it.
We sped our way down the canals like a scene from the Italian Job – okay maybe we are exaggerating, but it was a wonderful experience being on the water. The buildings were more picturesque in person than we ever imagined, they were literally in a row touching the water like houses touch the road. Coming fresh off a nine day cruise, this water taxi made us feel like we were seeing water for the first time. We were going under bridges, through canals and even the open water.
We drove pass beautiful buildings such as, the Church of San Simeon Piccolo, Santa Maria della Salute and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. The water taxi gave us a great first glimpse and impression of Venice.
Once we docked from the water taxi the first thing we saw was Doge’s Palace at Piazza San Marco and it was magnificent! Such incredible and unique detail – white arches along the bottom of the building with more narrow arches on top and a diamond pattern running across the upper part of the palace. This is truly one of our favorite buildings in all of Italy.
After Doge’s Palace, we walked to St. Mark’s Square to see the Saint Mark’s Basilica with its powerful gilded domes – what another beautiful sight of Venice. This basilica was the most luxurious one we had seen in Italy, which should come to no surprise since it is nicknamed the “Church of Gold” and represents Venice’s wealth and power.
However, the beauty of Saint Mark’s Basilica lost our attention when Maria started her love affection for pigeons. Pigeons cover the grounds of St. Mark’s Square most likely because there are restaurants surrounding the square and tourists are often found feeding the pigeons. They have so much food in their hands that pigeons flock to them to the point where they will land on tourist’s hands, head and shoulders! Believe it or not, this was Maria’s dream – determined, she stood out on the square with her food in her hands as she beckoned the pigeons to land on her. With some trial and error, we are pleased to show you that she accomplished her dream!
As much as we would have enjoyed to have lunch at St. Mark’s Square where the servers are dressed in white dress shirts and a black bowtie, we just could not fathom the high prices. Dining at a restaurant in St. Mark’s Square is definitely a luxury we decided to pass this time around. Therefore, we went down the small streets of Venice to find something more comfortable for our wallets.
Our next sightseeing destination was Rialto Bridge at the Grand Canal! When we arrived we were a little disappointed to find that it was under renovation and therefore, we could not walk across the bridge. Nevertheless, Rialto Bridge was still beautiful!
The second most famous bridge of Venice that we came across was the white limestone, Bridge of Sighs. We find it hard to believe that this marvelous bridge connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace. It is said this bridge was the last view convicts saw before they were imprisoned – not a bad view if you ask us.
Our last piece of sightseeing were the streets and canals of Venice. Throughout the day we were walking over bridges, through narrow streets and it was all lovely! Even with the large crowds, tourists and busy canals of gondolas, we still found Venice romantic. We looked pass all the hustle and bustle and found Venice to be magical! Walking across bridges to view canals never got old and they never looked the same. Each time we came across an opening the buildings would look more narrow or more colorful then the last one.
On our second visit to Venice to see Murano we had some time to spare before we needed to get back to the train station. For as long as I could remember I have always had a thing for Venetian masks and masquerade balls. I could not leave Venice empty handed again, so we walked down the narrow streets and into at least half a dozen stores that sold handmade Venetian masks. You would think this was an easy task, but you have not met me… I am a perfectionist and it took us a long time to find the perfect masks that matched each other. We would find one that looked great on me, but could not find one for Adam that looked both good and would match mine. It got to the point where I had a lot of pressure to find the perfect make because we were being pushed for time – we were going to be late for our train. At last, I found the perfect gold and black masks for us! Now we need to plan our masquerade ball!
Running Through Venice
Adam would love to tell the story of how I almost cost us a ride back home to Brescia, but luckily for me, I do the writing. Once we made our purchase of our Venetian masks we used our GPS on our phones to help navigate our way to the train station. Well, if you have been to Venice then you know that sometimes what looks to be a route ends up being a dead end due, to the canals. So, after we made a lot of headway we had to turn around and find another route. At this point we had to make a twenty minute walk in twelve minutes. Impossible? Not for us. So, for the second time in one month in Italy we were running through the city to catch our ride (to read about the first time we ran through a city click here). We were running like our lives depended on it, passing people left and right in the most crowded and narrow streets of Venice. We realized that our GPS calculated the entrance to the train station and not necessarily our train platform, so we ran through the train station until our feet were inside our train. We are not exaggerating when we say that after taking three steps on the train to find seats, the train started to move. We literally made it with three seconds to spare! Proud to say we are still happily married after that experience – phew!
I think it is safe to say that we made every minute count during our time in Venice.