I always liked creepy things; Halloween, haunted houses, Tim Burton movies… etc. Venice to me looked like a haunted underwater city that resurfaced. The buildings were warped and kinda dirty in the most beautiful way. Visually, Venice is a work of art!
As soon as we left the train station we were right in front of a water bus station. It was a beautiful day and the line was long so we decided to walk. We had repacked our bags in Rome so we were traveling pretty light. There were obviously no cars so walking was pretty easy and the many bridges and waterways made the walk go by fast.
Eventually the stairs became difficult for Janice so we tried a water taxi. We used a kiosk that ran out of tickets. When we went to the ticket booth to ask for help, the language barrier was a problem. Everyone in line had already paid for the ticket at the kiosk but ended up empty handed! We all ended up having to pay again. Then when we finally got on the water bus, we took the one headed the wrong way. Poor Janice was not super sure-footed and we had to help stabilize her and shield her from the rest of the people. She happily got off the bus way off from our destination and we just walked instead for a while. Fortunately, Venice is so gorgeous you seriously font care that your lost.
Our hotel was right on the Grand Canal. Palazzo Bembo was an absolutely perfect place to stay especially traveling with Nick’s grandma. The hotel had a main lobby with a concierge who cheerfully greeted us by name every day. There was a breakfast area overlooking the canal and a little desert table with cookie jars for the taking. There were only a few rooms all on the same level so we were able to enjoy some privacy while being confident that Janice could find our room if she needed us and the concierge could help make sure she didn’t accidentally leave.
Our room itself was incredible! The room had a king size bed, a small daybed, gorgeous vintage furniture and a huge wardrobe. The bathroom was modern and all marble which I enjoyed. The floor which I believe was marble, was completely warped. I suppose being right on the water that way makes the buildings flex a little! When I slept, a part of me was afraid that the huge wardrobe would fall on us! Now the very best part of our room was the two huge windows overlooking the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal!
Our first stop was St. Mark’s Square! We could spend all day here just looking at it. The Doge’s Palace, the Capanille and St. Mark’s Basilica! It was a 360 degree traveler’s paradise! Unfortunately, to get a coffee/wine and sit in the square is outrageously expensive! All these cafes had tons of empty chairs no one can use!
We got all dressed up for dinner and made moves towards a water taxi but Janice was not about it! From all our youtube research, we knew that Gondolas were very expensive and from what we heard, not worth it. Well, we got on anyway and yes, it was expensive, but the tour was about a half hour and we got to see so many “streets” and their unique houses. Most of them had these canal level dungeons I suppose for easy water access. Our gondolier pointed out sights and whistled a tune for us. As we passed by another gondola with a young boy pretending to be the gondolier we asked him to sing and this kid breaks out singing That’s Amore! We ducked brides taking videos and pictures as we went. We loved it!
It’s definitely smart to reserve your dinner in advance because we did not and ended up very hangry. It wasn’t until around 9 that we found a place to eat. With all the action and walking of the day, Janice was pretty wiped out. We got her settled at the hotel and made a midnight trip to St. Mark’s Square on our own. This time we took the water taxi and it was not crowded. We got seats right at the front of the boat and saw the canal side houses looking their very spookiest in the dark! We took pictures at the square and then tried to catch a bus back. After about an hour of waiting, we had to walk back! So I will say, the water bus was simply unreliable!!
The next morning, we took a tour of the Doge’s Palace! The architecture was gorgeous and the ceiling art was consistently imposing. We walked into each room impressed by the ceiling art only for the next room to have even larger ceiling art! Janice took a minute to flirt with a priest also taking the tour! Lastly, the tour took us to the prison connected to the Doge’s Palace by the Bridge of Sighs. This was dark! For as beautiful as Venice and Doge’s Palace is, the prison is cold, dark and depressing!
Later this day, we shopped for souvenirs finding the best art ever! A small shop had hand painted fancy cats in designer clothes with Venetian scenery! We bought a few prints. We checked out a few of the Venetian mask stores before going to dinner in a place we reserved. The dinner was outstanding. Nick’s dish was a swordfish marinated in citrus and then seared before being served. The atmosphere was unique, it had paintings of these fantastical creatures fighting or emerging from the sea. It felt like a witchy, magic theme going on. Now the service was beyond spectauclar too.
The next day was our last day in Venice. There were definitely parts we missed, but somehow I enjoyed taking Venice at a slower pace and just casually walking around, enjoying wine and coffee! But I had missed buying my Venetian mask! Now this morning everything kinda went wrong! First of all, it was raining. While I packed all our clothes to head back to Rome, Nick checked in on Janice to make sure she was ready to go. Once we were ready to leave, we should have checked her room again because she forgot the cat paintings we got! We headed out in the rain back towards the train station.
Once we were in the area, I knew I had enough time to get my Venetian mask! I went to the largest mask store I could find and spend a ton of time carefully selecting what I wanted. The owner came out to help me and even offered me a HUGE piece for a tenth of its value because it had been slightly damaged. I wanted to buy it so bad, but it would simply not have survived the traveling. I did get a great price on a large mask with a cracked woman’s face with jester like strips and bells framing her face. The owner whose family had been making Venetian masks for generations said my mask was “good luck”! And he carefully wrapped it to fit perfectly in my backpack.
We still had a little time to get coffee before our train. No matter how pretty they are… DO NOT get the puffy pastel colored pastries on all the windows. Its like petrified powdered sugar. It may break your teeth and its just not good.
We arrive back in Rome for our last night of the trip. Nick had reserved our last meal at a Michelin Star Restaurant. We enjoyed three pastas with a wine pairing and a stunning dessert. So there was a squid ink gnocchi which I think was my favorite. There was a cheese and pepper pasta with dried anchovies. Lastly there was a lemongrass pasta. The meal was incredible! Janice apparently doesn’t like seafood and made sure the entire restaurant knew! The staff very professionally guided her towards a simpler dish that she enjoyed.
We took our last night to revisit the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Victor Emmanuel Monument. Altogether, our trip to Italy was outstanding! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to write out all 3 parts of our trip, but I’m so happy I finally have it immortalized in my blog 🙂
Here’s some more pics: