Stepping out of Santa Lucia Venezia railway station, I was greeted by clear blue skies and the sparkling Grand Canal. As a first stop, I visited the closest gelateria. Why? Because it’s a firm belief of mine that gelato in Italy must be consumed at least once every day. It’s happy deliciousness, inexpensive, and it allows one to engage with the locals and learn more of the language! And to prove that I’m not just paying lip service, I licked my way through twelve scoops in three days.
Built on an ancient swampy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, the floating city is best experienced by water. Whether your choice of vessel is a gondola, water taxi or vaporetti (public water buses or ferries), a trip down the serpentine Grand Canal is a must. History unfurls itself along its banks with magnificent fifth century palaces, elegantly dressed churches, stylish statues and a sixth century pescheria (fish market) filled with colours, smells and Venetian housewives!
Another way to absorb the essence of Venice is on foot and preferably without a map. There is no tiring of the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and tiny canals that Venice is so well known for. Every corner is picture perfect, every little bridge looks like it’s been lifted from a fairy tale, and solemn church bells frequently toll throughout the city. Venice is built across 118 islands, separated by 150 canals, connected by 450 bridges, and sprinkled with charming campos (little city squares, called piazzas elsewhere in Italy) for the weary adventurer to rest in. The whimsical and sombre alike are attracted to Venice, also referred to the city of love, making it the perfect setting to people-watch.
One of the first places on any must-do list is the grandiose Piazza San Marco, that echoes a history spanning centuries.
It’s worth crossing the Ponte de l’Accademia to the Galleria de l’Accademia, where Napoleon amassed the richest collection of Venetian paintings – Bellini, Canaletto, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Guardi, Longhi, Tintoretto and Titian! My appreciation of art is only slightly worse than my grasp of physics so I opted to explore the surrounding area and consume a bellini and carpaccio (fresh slices of beef and salmon set on the plate with lemon, olive oil and truffle mushrooms or Parmesan cheese) instead.
Murano & Burano
I opted for a day trip to the twin towns of Murano, known for its traditionally-made and unique glass-masterpieces, and Burano, famous for its refined embroidered and lace work.
Returning to Venice, I wished I could spend a little longer exploring her streets. This is one city I will definitely revisit.