While Paris kept reminding us of America, Venice instantly introduced a new culture. We entered it by water taxi, marveling at the old structures surrounded by water and intricate bridges before us. We were forewarned that Venice has a foul stench, but the cold November air was nothing but pleasant. The people here are very friendly and eager to speak English. You can definitely tour Venice in a day. Should you do so, we recommend the following rough itinerary. Please note that most shops close from 1pm-3pm for “siesta” so do double check business hours when planning your day.
Start the day at the oldest coffee house in the world. It’s been in operation since 1720! Charles Dickens was a frequent customer here. Next time, Nhi will bring along a blank notebook and hopefully leave with a finished manuscript. :P We ordered two coffees and two croissants (pictured above) for the lovely price of 30 euros. No regrets. :)
Piazza San Marco
This social, religious, and political center of Venice is constantly ranked among Europe’s top attractions. We were fortunate to encounter a light morning rain, enabling a marvelous view of the piazza reflected in water. There is often live music going on. You can always count on the many pigeons that flood the square and delight young children.
Bridge of Sighs
Perhaps catch a gondola ride (for 100 euros) and steal a kiss with your loved one beneath the Bridge of Sighs, sealing eternal bliss. The bridge is made of white limestone and has windows. Its name was given by Lord Byron during the 19th century, suggesting the sighs prisoners gave as they witnessed their last view of Venice through the bridge’s windows immediately before their imprisonment. The local legend tells a separate story, of lovers sighing in bliss as they kiss beneath the bridge during sunset.
Rialto Bridge & Market
The oldest stone bridge that spans across the Grand Canal, Rialto is arguably the busiest spot in Venice. Surrounding the bridge are shops and restaurants eager to delight tourists. (We were honestly pulled into a restaurant for lunch.) A commercial and financial center, indeed. We did most of our souvenir shopping here as we couldn’t resist the beautiful creations from their famous Murano glass.
We absolutely think Venice must be experienced through one’s taste buds. The food here, especially their super fresh seafood, is divine. Dinner is served with a complimentary glass of wine. We honestly think Ristorante Trovatore was the highlight of our trip to Venice. The best Italian foods. The most friendly and personable service. We had to open a TripAdvisor account to write a glowing review for them.
Venice is small and manageable. We really think the objective here is to get lost and discover hidden charms. As we left the city, we witnessed children catching the water taxi to school. How lovely it is to have the main mode of transportation be by boat. It forces you to slow down and provides a tranquility hardly present on the road. While the businesses/attractions seem duplicative after awhile, Venice is unlike anywhere else in the world because of its unique location, cityscape, and history.
Be sure to check out our upcoming post on Rome.