Today we are leaving Venice and headed for our third destination. We are currently sitting on a high speed train with very little AC, but we’re in Italy so we’re happy! After our very positive and calm experience with Varenna, we were a bit shocked when we first arrived in Venice. It is a weird city. Just like in pictures, buildings jut out of the water and their streets are narrow alleyways with no names or only small water canals that require a boat to access. The buildings are old and beautiful, with Middle Eastern influence and tourists were everywhere. We arrived in Venice around 3 pm and had not eaten lunch, were hot and sweaty, and very lost. These are the times we knew were inevitable when planning this trip and our safety mechanisms still failed us. We wandered through frustrating streets and crowds of people to hit dead end after dead end. After about 20-30 minutes of meandering (read: cursing google maps for not recognizing our location and snapping at each other as we were both interpreting the maps differently) we finally found our hotel and got a printed map that was much more useful.
Once we got to our hotel, Albergo al Piave, in a quiet residential side street in the Castello neighborhood, we scrambled to find a café for an aperitivo. We used the Elizabeth Minchilli app, Eat Italy, to help us decide on Aciugheta. Bryan had Prosecco, I had some wine from the Veneto region (I didn’t care at this point), and we split bruschetta, meatballs, and cod fish crostini. We regrouped, freshened up, and began to wander with a little more purpose and sense of direction now that we had food in us. We found our way to St. Mark’s Square to people watch, fight off pigeons, and listen to the dueling orchestras that liven up the square each evening.
Day 2 we started at St. Mark’s Basilica to enjoy the magnificence of a building and place of worship that old and ornate. They were holding a worship service while we toured and that was a pretty cool thing to witness. We also bought tickets to visit the Frari Church, which was even more magnificent to view, in my opinion. It was less crowded and full of burial monuments that each had interesting stories to tell. We walked so much this day that we reached our 10,000 steps by 2 pm, and finished with 18,000 by the end of the day. We stopped in shops that caught our eye, took in the intricacies of masks that Venice is known for as well as their glass, and again admired the matrix of canals and alleys that made up this city. We navigated much better on our second day and even remembered how to get back to our hotel or to a piazza without a map on many occasions. We had our first Italian pizza of the trip at lunch, freshened up for dinner, aperitivo at a Michelin star restaurant where Bryan almost got attacked by a pigeon, and had dinner at another Minchilli recommendation, Wildner. The food in Venice was not our favorite. Even though I love seafood, it was a bit too fishy for me here. They love raw seafood, seafood with mayo spread, seafood in rich butter pasta sauces, etc. But our last dinner was a great dining experience. The service was phenomenal, right off the Grand Canal, full of locals and tourists alike. Venice is known for tiramisu, which we had both nights there, and we got a complimentary dessert wine at Wildner (we think because they could tell we appreciate wine – it was probably because they needed to get rid of their remaining wine for the night).
We were typical tourists and splurged on a gondola ride after dinner. It was at night in the inner canals of the city, so very dark and quiet, but it was a little mysterious and a lot magical. Dusk may have been a better time because crowds have died down but you can see a little more. It was a very relaxing and romantic way to end our time in Venice.