Getting lost along the winding canals of Venice is an easy thing to do – in fact, it’s the best thing to do. We spent a June weekend (a birthday present for Corey!) fascinated by this city, crossing some of the hundreds of bridges that link the city together and exploring the famous neighboring islands.
Before planning for this trip, we (ignorantly) had no idea Venice was actually an island nestled in the Venetian Lagoon, and therefore only accessible by a crazy water taxi ride. There are also no cars, trucks or public transport besides the water taxis (and gondolas!) chugging up and down the canal network at all hours. Luckily our adorable B&B was located along a smaller canal with only the occasional picturesque gondola passing by.
The main city square, Piazza San Marco boasted a gilded basilica, huge historical tower, the impressive Doges (essentially King’s) Palace and approximately one million pigeons. Aggressive pigeons. Needless to say we didn’t spend that much time here, just enough to admire the general splendor before heading to a seven course chef’s tasting menu right alongside the Grand Canal. We dined with a spectacular view of the sunset and marveled at the impossibly large cruise shipping being tugged in to its docking position further along the canal.
Easily our favorite experience in Venice was the private boat ride and tour of a glassblowing company on the island of Murano. Known for centuries of glassblowing traditions, we watched a master glassblower at work and picked up some breathtaking glass souvenirs for ourselves.
Equally as impressive, the island of Burano is famous for its lacemaking but we loved the beautifully colored houses. Lined up along the smallest of canals (only tiny dinghy boats could pass through), the buildings in Burano were a rainbow of colors – pink, red, yellow, blue and more. It was a perfect spot for a glass of Italian wine and traditional pasta with clams.
We were a bit disappointed in the Venice must-do Gondola ride along the canals. Our gondolier happened to be absolutely smashed, which was slightly entertaining but also a bit annoying. We should have gone early in the morning instead of at dusk!
Another highlight for us was the tour of Doges Palace. Dripping with Venetian gild and the works of legendary painters, the palace is one of the more elaborate buildings we have seen in Europe. With the ‘secret tour’ we had a chance to see some of the lesser known parts of the palace including the dark prisons and torture rooms. Our awesome tour guide showed us the exact prison cell where Casanova (yes, the famous Casanova) notoriously escaped from. Jon also had fun crossing the Bridge of Sighs to the adjacent prison, acting out the dismal prisoner seeing his last view of beautiful Venice before a lifetime of imprisonment!
We are always about food – Venice was no different. Although the seven course tasting was delicious and inspired, our favorite meal was a takeaway pasta place tucked away on a tiny street from San Marco. Best pasta we have ever eaten…I wonder if they would ship to Germany?