Venice absolutely romanced me. Its reflective and peaceful canals enchanted me like no other place has. I think I can say it was my favorite city from our trip. I loved so many other places, meals, and moments while we were in Italy but as a whole our time in Venice is my favorite part of the trip.
We stayed in an Air BnB just off the canal, in the photo below, (you can see our door in the lower right corner!), in an area of the city where most of the locals still live. This neighborhood was just off of some of the major walk ways and canals, so it was a perfect escape from the touristy hustle Venice has at the peak of travel season. We woke up early every morning, stayed off the beaten paths, and were able to avoid the crowds as usual. Like most magical famous cities, it can get overrun with tourist but our experience was only dreamy and relaxing!
There are three parts of our time in Venice I am going to highlight. After the the first section of photos of our morning wanderings, I talk about our adventures on other Venetian islands, our gondola ride, and our love of Il Frutalà. It isn't a full play-by-play of our four days there but rather some unique things we loved and tips I think will be useful for you if you ever go!
Murano & Burano
These are two islands right off of Venice with their own specialties and quirks. We took the water bus out to Murano first. This island specializes in glass blowing. The craftsmanship is unbelievable and you can practically get anything you can think of blown into glass! Burano is know for their incredibly detailed lace and brightly colored homes. In other countries, I have seen places where there is a fun row or two of colorful buildings but this islands is on a whole other level. The entire island is spotted with the colorful buildings in the photos below.
We were planning on going to Lido, an island with a little stretch of beach, after visiting these first two islands, but there was a torrential downpour so we bought cheap ponchos and splashed in the puddles instead.
Our Gondola Ride
Was the BEST. I knew as soon as we were planning this trip that this would be the one thing I was willing to bite the bullet for and pay the giant tourist fee. It was for sure pricey but worth every penny. But I could see how it could be a big disappointment if you don't do it right. When walking around, we would watch trains of twelve gondolas in a row pass by us and it didn't look fun.
Here is what we did:
- We walked off the big canals. Do not pick a gondola that is next to a million other gondolas. We found a sweet looking man all by his lonesome in the middle of nowhere.
- We went during dinner time. AKA everyone else was eating dinner and not out on a gondola ride. I think we saw one other gondola that was way far away for maybe 30 seconds. We basically had the canals to ourselves. Since it was the Golden Hour everything was bathed in peaceful golden light.
Our gondolier was a third generation gondolier and grew up in Venice. He took us through the neighborhoods where he grew up, talked about all the places he played as a kid, and the history of the buildings. He was so friendly, knowledgeable, and a great singer. Yes, he sang a little bit for us. I was so sad when it was over and I will never forget it!
This little shop sells smoothie mixed drinks! The most amazing combo ever! We found it on our walk home from the Gondola Ride. They were bumpin' fun tunes and got us dancing in the middle of the walk way. It only took one free sample to get us to sit down and buy a couple drinks.
I think this idea is brilliant! Healthy fruit smoothies with alcohol. This was the mix drink of my dreams! I don't like candy or sweets, so most mixed drinks are too much for me but this was perfect.
We met a fun group of teenage Jewish boys while sitting there (they offer non-alcoholic beverages too). They were on a summer camp that took them all around the world and they bonded with Kyle over Pokemon Go. We may or may not have hung out with them for an hour or so.
I am not sure if I liked exploring Venice more by day or by night. As I keep saying, Venice was a beautiful and magical experience. If you ever have the chance to go I wholeheartedly recommend it!