As part of our road trip across the beautiful Italy, we decided to start in Venice. Being at the top of the country and being a serious must-see, we couldn’t wait to kick it all off here! I visited Venice as a child with my family, but had yet to experience the land of lovers with a partner. As Jack had never been it was an absolute solid start for us, nothing could have changed our mind! We planned our road trip to include five of the loveliest places – Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Rome and Naples. We planned and booked it all ourselves without using an external company – if you like a bit of planning and freedom to choose whatever works for you, it definitely makes sense to do it this way! Have a read of the Italy tab on the blog to see how we planned our route and the exact route we took! Let’s get into a Venice round up!
We set off on a lovely midday flight from Stanstead airport, (it classifies as London but really it’s on the outskirts of Essex – perfect to get to from both our families’ houses.) I feel like a midday flight is the best time to fly – although to save some cash I have travelled at some ungodly hours in the past! Luckily we had set off fairly early because the odds were just 100% against us! My. God. Traffic on the way, we were stopped at literally every turn at the airport, held up everywhere possible – it was definitely a squeeze but as soon as we sat down on the plane we got to relax. This was just one of those days and nothing wrong with Stanstead airport though, always a good idea to leave a little extra time. We usually try to arrive at the airport two hours before flying to give ourselves plenty of time. We flew to the cheaper airport in Venice – it’s a little further out and requires a coach trip to get to the city, but saves a lot of money usually.
We bought a water bus pass – there are no roads or cars in Venice so it’s a really good way to get about. Venice is rather teeny do it’s not too hard to walk everywhere, but when you’re lugging around big suitcases and trying to fit as much in as possible it is worth buying. The tickets are super cheap too and you can get passes for singular journeys, a day, ranging up to a few days and a week. We got incredibly lost finding our hotel as it wasn’t obvious from the outside – it just looked like an apartment building with no signs! After ringing the help line they helped us easily check in, find our room and get settled. We were at the top of the apartment block in the furthest room at the end of the corridor, which was the perfect position as it felt even more private and just lovely. We spent more on other hotels than this Venice one and found a great deal through Expedia, and it was everything we needed for our few days here. As soon as we had settled and looked around the room, we set off exploring – walking over all the canals we could find and looking at all the lovely shops in the alleys. Along with a lot of fashion shops and restaurants there were some gorgeous arty shops, including ones filled with the renowned Venetian masks. We both bought a mask and I would recommend everyone to get one as a souvenir, they’re so lovely! If you do choose to buy one, make sure you buy one that has the “made in Venice” stamp on the back – a lot are cheaper and shipped in from abroad, but I think it’s good to support the local economy and the artists within the city! These masks range from a huge amount of money to 20 euros or so for more simple ones, whatever you choose I bet you’ll treasure it. We have ours sat at home on the piano – I’m looked at them right now!
We walked to St Mark’s square and bought tickets to go up the bell tower. They were very cheap and you don’t feel rushed at all up there, although it’s pretty small you can really take your time taking in the most stunning views over the whole of Venice! The sun was setting when we arrived and so the whole of the city was illuminated; we would definitely recommend visiting at sunset!
We grabbed a pizza from one of the bajillion pizzerias, (I’m pretty sure we had 786347 pizzas this holiday, it would be rude not to in Italy!) and brought some wine to drink overlooking the gondolas as the water swished and crashed around them. We spent some time just chatting and taking in the beauty of everything around us – St Mark’s Square, the bridge of sighs and the impressive buildings. Even on the way back to the hotel we had to stop and watch a few canals on the way, it’s one of those places where you can just take your time and absorb everything around you. Past a certain time – even in the peak of summer, everything quietens down and you just feel like it’s all yours.
We started the next day with crepes for breakfast – check our Venice food guide as you bloody neeeed to try these! It was a stall with no seating near to our hotel and a short walk from St Mark’s Square, made to order. We chose to share a savoury crepe and a classic lemon and sugar one. The savoury crepe was filled with veggies and cheese (they also have meaty options if that’s your thing), and they were both absolutely incredible. Moreish, naughty, and the perfect start to the day!
The days in the peak of summer are absolutely rammed in Venice. It’s no secret how stunning the city is, and so people come from all over the world to see for themselves. Combined with the roasting Italian summer heat, it’s a great idea to take a few breaks in the day – go to a coffee shop and drink something cold, head back to the hotel, just take your time with it and allow time to relax in the midst of all the busy-ness. We decided to get entry to the palace in St Marks square to explore – luckily unlike everywhere else that day, the queue to get in was super fast and not too busy inside. Venetian architecture is in a league of it’s own – so regal, nothing is done in halves. The rooms were bloody huuuge, with beautiful views from all the windows, gorgeous artwork and so much to explore. We walked over the bridge of sighs and into the prison section, which was so interesting! It gets it’s name as it is the passage from the court room into the prison, and as people had been sentenced to jail, the canal the bridge runs over would be full of the sighs and sounds of the prisoners walking to their fate. Cool right? We should all make time to hear a bit of history! We did a little bit of shopping in the independent arty stores and then debated over getting a Gondola. Gondolas are so expensive – it was 80 euros for 30 minute trip around the canals so it’s obviously a big indulgence – we had a whole road trip to spread our money over so we were trying to decide whether to splurge here or save elsewhere. But after a big old chat we decided it’d be worth it. How often are you in Venice? It’s probably not something we’d have the opportunity to do again for a really long time and we knew we wouldn’t regret it so jumped to it.
And we were so glad we did! Although it wasn’t the longest time on the Gondola it really did feel like a while longer, not rushed at all. We got to see so many of the canals we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, as of course most of them don’t have pavements running along the side, and boats are the only way through. We emerged out of the canals to a beautiful, unparalleled view of the Rialto from the water. Our gondola guy was also so lovely, this was definitely the highlight of Venice for me! Even if it’s just the once, I can safely say it’s worth a splurge to get a gondola! We visited the Hard Rock Cage for dinner, collected a hurricane glass to add to our collection, and topped the night off eating gelato to drown our sins! We stopped by a couple of bakeries (this turned into a very foody evening!) and headed for a chilled night at the hotel with snacks and face masks.
Our next stop was Florence – have a sneaky peek at the Italy tab to read all about that and what we would recommend adding to the master bucket list!!