(Well, almost 48 hours)
For several years, I was the butt of a joke in my family – the only one to have not visited Venice, despite being the one who most wanted to.
But, for many years, I had nobody to go with and although I really enjoy travelling alone, Venice is somewhere you should go with somebody special (or so everyone said).
“Oh, it’s the most romantic destination, but you have to go with somebody you’re at least mildly in love with,” a friend said as she ripped out a back page of her notebook and scrawled down some restaurants which were, sadly, a little out of my price range.
So, when an other half suggested Venice, and mildly fitted that bill, off we went.
The flights and accommodation were a steal at £160 from London. We found a swanky apartment on Airbnb which allowed us to come and go as we pleased, while staying away from the tourist pockets.
Our host Silvia was helpful, responded instantly and let us store our bags the next day for our late flight and was on hand for any guidance or advice we needed for our visit.
The place came complete with a private patio that opened onto a canal, although it was a little cold to leave open.
It’s the worst kept secret that Venice is full of magic and mystery. I mean, it is wonder enough that the whole city stays afloat. The winding streets are filled with character, each one holds a story – or, at least that’s what I told my companion as I led us back and forth among them, reluctant to admit I was lost.
And, it might not seem it but Winter was a perfect time to visit a place where, in Summer, tourists outnumber locals by two to one and the temperature can cause the canals to smell.
We boarded the water bus over from the airport, which takes around 1 hour and 40 mins, allowing for you to see the sites. Initially, we had contemplated splashing out on a private speed boat but the weather was freezing and the landscape foggy.
Misty Venice might have added to the mystery, but it did not do much for sightseeing…
Although we were hampered on our first day, the second let us soak in the architecture – which is, certainly, the highlight.
It’s definitely worth downloading an offline map – Venice is best explored by foot, with the vaparetto as a light relief for longer journeys as the city has more than 400 steps and bridges. Relatively, it is a tiny place – with a population the size of my hometown Plymouth – and a delight to discover, encountering countless steamy cafes, secret campis (squares) and crumbling churches.
This is also the reason why its streets are packed with gangs of gawpers, stumbling over bridge after bridge with selfie sticks. It’s best to ignore them, although they make me and the locals furious – it’s even made the latter march in protest.
Needless to say, the food in Venice is divine, especially if (like me) you love Italian cuisine. Premium pizzas are available along the streets at around €7 a pop. It’s best to wander beyond the Grand Canal for food – the Dorsudoru area is especially good for bars and restaurants.
For a treat, visit Ai Promessi Sposi (the betrothed) which has a fresh and incredible-tasting seasonal menu, with the best lasagne I have ever tasted (and trust me, there’s been a few!). FYI it’s also great for seafood.
You’ll want to book though, as this cosy little restaurant only has around five tables at a time.
A two-course meal with wine cost less than €50pp. Visit their Facebook to see pictures of their delicious dishes.
PROSECCO and lots of it. At €2.50 a cup, just say prego as they pour. If it’s too early to drink, the hot chocolate in Venice is thick, rich and sweet. A perfect warming snack.
Libreria aqua alta
It’s a bookshop brimming with … er… books. Inside there are gondolas full of the things and, outside, a garden and a staircase crafted of volumes.
These photos are far better than mine:
Well, what did I miss? Let me know for next time…