Venice, Italy

October 2022

We chose Venice as our first destination for a few reasons….. First, it really is so quintessentially Italy and felt that it would be a perfect place to set the tone and get into the spirit of being in the country. Second, it was the best our best option to see the Adriatic Sea and catch a high-speed train up to the mountains of the Italian Alps. People always swoon when the topic of Venice comes up if they have been there and rightly so! It was so unique and fun to explore. The canals and alleyways were nothing like I have ever seen. We only stayed in Venice for 2 nights and we significantly jet lagged when we arrived but I think we made the most of it.

Getting there…

Our flight from Heathrow to Venice landed around noon. It was disorienting to not sleep for an entire day and hit the ground running. We navigated our way out of the airport to find the water taxi station. This was no simple feat! The signs were easy enough to read but I swear we ended up going out through a service exit and had to back track more than a few times. We made it to the window to buy our tickets and got in line the long to zone out and wait for our taxi to get us over to the island of Venice. I wish I would have taken a video to capture the chaos of chopped up water and boats zooming in and out to pick up passengers barely avoiding collision. As busy as it was, all the boats efficiently made it in and out relatively on time like it was nothing. Once out on the open water it was captivating to see the boats and take in the little surrounding islands of Burano and Murano in anticipation of what Venice had in store. The Airbnb that we had booked ahead that was close to a drop off point, so we only had to rumble our suitcases over the bumpy cobblestone for a few minutes to meet our host.

Venice from the Sky.. you can see the water taxi freeway.
Rush hour on the water

Where we stayed…

D found us a quaint little stone wall apartment that was well located and well stocked. The host was friendly and had stocked the fridge with wine, pasta, cheeses and sauce. The bathroom had soap, shampoo AND conditioner. These may seem like a given for travel accommodations, but we quickly learned that in Italy (and likely Europe) you get the bare minimum when it comes to toiletries. On Venice and a few other of our stays, they need to document your name and passport as a visitor to the city. The photos online made the space and view seem a bit more spacious that what the reality was but it was clean and felt authentic. It was perfect for our short stay.

The hidden door to the apartment…fortunately the host and previous guest had given us plenty of clues, so we found it on the first try.

What we did…

Our basic agenda for Venice and basically all of Italy was- explore, people watch, eat, drink, repeat. This city was so fun to wander around and see what was around the next corner. There is plenty of shopping near the Rialto bridge, but we aren’t really into that so much. It was a full moon while were visiting which made nighttime walks magical. I will let the photos tell the story…

Pointe di Rialto
Basilica di San Marco
The backside of San Marco
Expensive subpar snacks with a lovely view at San Marco Square
Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo by moonlight
View of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from fancy water taxi en route to Cip’s Club
Beautiful sunset on our last night

What we ate…

Being our first stop in Italy, I was so very excited to start to experience local cuisine. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account local customs for dining times and how they would intersect with our arrive time and jet lagged brains. We set out for our first meal around 2pm and quickly realized that this was NOT when people dine around town. After being very directly denied by at least 3 small restaurants who had no interest in us ever coming back, we finally found a small bar with outdoor seating who were happy to let us sit a table for 2 (not one for 4, they made that very clear). We took in the gentle tourist traffic and enjoyed our first version of the Aperol Spritz (which was delicious), the little snacks that come with drinks (cicchetti,) and some tiny white bread sandwich triangle called tramezzini. After that, honestly, we struck out when it came to food…not great pizza, ok lasagna and snacks with beer and wine in the apartment. Pretty much all the things they the travel blog foodies tell you not to eat. When you get hungry and are tired, it’s survival rules, so we did our best. We did however, have the most amazing last dinner at a restaurant that came to us upon recommendation from a friend with fantastic taste in pretty much everything- Cip’s Club. The ambiance, quality of food and service of this upscale waterfront restaurant is hard to beat. It is attached to the beautiful, exclusive Hotel Cipriani. We took their private wooden boat water taxi to the hotel, walked the gardens, acted like we were supposed to be there and felt very fancy. We completely lucked out even getting a table at Cip’s because we arrived an hour before they opened (places don’t even think of serving before 7:30) and there was a cancellation for the first seating. Make a reservation well ahead of time if you want to experience this location. It was a treat for our last night.

Final thoughts….

Venice was a whirlwind of a visit but memorable to say the least. It was cleaner than I would have expected, it felt very safe and was super fun to explore. I do wish that we might have done a bit more research on what and where to eat, but overall, it was enjoyable. It is a unique experience to be in a place with no cars, you really don’t get that anywhere in North America. I can’t say that the people in the shops and cafes we ventured in and out of were all that friendly (with the exception of Cip’s) however we were new and there are all tourists so I suppose that could get annoying. I will always have fond memories of winding through the narrow alleyways and viewing the canals at night under the light of the huge full moon and the excitement of starting our adventure in Italy.

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