City Break: Venice, Italy

If you follow my social media, particularly my Instagram, you will be aware that my husband Ric bought me a city break to Venice for my Christmas present. This came about because, for the ten years we’ve been together, I’ve moaned that despite being married to a half Italian, I’ve never been to Italy!

We flew at 11:30 on Friday, arriving at 14:30 Venice time. Ric didn’t realise that the transfer time via water bus from the airport to San Marco, where we were staying, was just over an hour. It didn’t matter as I enjoyed sitting on the boat and seeing Venice for the first time but my first tip is check your transfer times as it meant that after getting our water bus tickets, picking up our luggage and waiting for the next water bus, we didn’t get to our hotel until around 5pm.

Our flight home on the Sunday was at midday meaning we had to check out of the hotel and head straight to the airport and with this in mind, I thought I’d give you a break down of what we managed to do in the short time we were in Venice.

Venice in February

It’s cold in Venice in February. Take your coat, hat, gloves, scarf and after going, I would now advise WELLIES! Venice is now suffering from “Acqua alta” otherswise known as high water. The high tides are causing flooding and when we woke up on Saturday morning and turned out of our hotel to walk to St Mark’s Square we were greeted with at least 30cm of water, deeper in some places. It couldn’t believe it and didn’t know it happened so had no appropriate footwear. Luckily the Venetian shops were prepared and sold super sexy boot covers and wellies. The boot covers did the trick for the parts where walking through the water was unavoidable. The Italians are prepared and erect walk ways so that you can get about okay around the main attractions. It only lasts a few hours and by lunch time everything is back to normal. It was an amazing sight and didn’t spoil our holiday at all.

St Mark’s Basilica

Such a stunning place and somewhere you have to visit. As it’s a religious place, clothing has to be appropriate however thing is only something you need to think about if you visit in the summer. The entrance to the Basilica was underwater as we got there on Saturday morning however the majority of it is raised (clever Venetians) so it didn’t affect our tour. There is a small payment to enter and then (sneakily) they charge for a few other areas which we chose not to do. Something I didn’t realise until I’d took a ton of pictures was that you’re not supposed to film or photograph! After that I heard the security guy saying “No cam-er-a!” in his angry Italian accent which then set Ric and I off chuckling and the rebel in me wanted to try and take pictures without him seeing!

The ceiling is out of this world, the mosaics are so detailed and colourful. I commented that I would never have had the attention span to have that job! 8000 square metres of mosaic cover the walls, vaults and cupolas within the Basilica – crazy. There are also some lovely views over St Mark’s Square from the top.

Doge’s Palace

When I found out we were going to Venice, I had to google things to do and find helpful blog posts such as these to help us decide what we wanted to do. Doge’s Palace was one that stood out to me because I have a fascination with prisons and this had one attached! You can buy a ticket for twenty euros each that cover all four museums in Venice, including Doge’s Palace which is what we did and it’s great value for money.

Even from the outside it is truly stunning with the Venice Lagoon backdrop and gothic architecture. Inside, each room is breathtaking with overwhelming artwork, painted ceilings, gold, a huge and imposing court room. It was inside Doge’s Palace that I realised I was finally a grown up...years ago I would have had no interest in the culture and work within these buildings and rooms but Ric and I wandered around, taking it all in and fully being able to appreciate it.

Unfortunately, the part of Doge’s Palace that we really wanted to see, we missed! We thought we had come to the end of it so left and went to the Gondola’s (more on that later) and for lunch. The gondola guy told us about the prison and Bridge of Sighs which apparently we should have gone to on our look around Doge’s Palace so we went back after lunch and explained that we didn’t realise but they wouldn’t let us back in without paying again! Ric tried to argue with them because he knew how much I wanted to see it but they weren’t having any of it. One of many reason we’ll have to go back.

St Mark’s Square and the Venecian streets

On the Friday evening, when we first arrived, it was lovely to be greeted by St Mark’s Square and our hotel (the Antico Panada) was literally a minute walk from the famous landmark. After we’d dropped out bags off and freshened up we just had a wander around the streets to find somewhere to eat. It’s so easy to get lost in Venice because all the streets are winding and similar with restaurants, leather and mask shops etc. With modern technology and the joy of data in Europe, you’d think we’d be okay with the use of Google Maps but Venice does not like to conform to maps…so you can use it a little but looking at street names is just as important.

Given that we usually have two children in toe, wandering around the streets was really enjoyable for me. Every now and then we’d come around a cute bridge or a fairy light filled back street and it’s easy to see why people say Venice romantic….but I’m not the romantic kind 🙂

Gondola

We’d had mixed opinions on the Gondola rides. Some people had said that it was really expensive and not worth it, others advised us to share with others therefore cutting the cost and the odd person just said to miss them out completely. For me, the main thing you think of when you think of Venice is the canals and Gondola’s…closely followed by the guy from the Cornetto advert singing. With this in mind, we had to go on one. It was just over one hundred euros for a 45 minute ride so those that said it was expensive were totally right but I believe it was worth it and, if we go back, we won’t feel the need to go on one again.

Our “Gondola Guy”, as I like to call him, otherwise known as Marco, was great. He guided us around the canals giving interesting bits of information and quietly singing in Italian under his breath. He occasionally shouted loudly, obviously in Italian again, to let other Gondola’s know that we was coming around the corner. It was peaceful, relaxing and a really good way to see Venice. He heard about Marco Polo and Casanova, learnt that Italy hadn’t been a country for that long and Florence, Venice and other areas of Italy used to be separate. A lot of Italians are named after the area they are from, like our friend Marco.

For us, the Gondola was a highlight of our trip and worth the expensive to do it once. Now we’ve done it, we will enjoy other areas and sights of Venice if we are lucky enough to go back.

For me, Venice isn’t a child-friendly. it’s definitely not Roversi child friendly. Our kids wouldn’t be entertained by the culture and architecture the city has to offer so it’s definitely one for a couples only break…or maybe when they’re teenagers. It was lovely to have a couple of days just us and I feel a little sorry for Ric because after all the nagging to go, all it’s done is make me want to see more of Italy.

Have you been to Venice? Can you recommend any places to go if we are lucky enough to go back? Or can you recommend more family friendly places in Italy that we could look at for a summer holiday? Comment below or find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Don’t forget to click like/follow 😉

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