Going from Naples to Venice was like going from one country to another. The difference between the two cities was extreme. Where Naples was dirty and authentic, Venice was clean and touristy. Where Naples was an exciting and sometimes hair raising adventure every time you stepped outside, Venice involved serene strolls past the same places ten times in a row, gawking in shop windows and photographing beautiful scenes. In Naples we were surrounded by the sounds of local Italians going about their daily business, in Venice we were surrounded by English speaking tourists taking selfies everywhere.
We had 2.5 days in Venice, compared with 5 days in Naples. We were happy with this choice because, although Venice is stunning, it was also very touristy. That being said, I did find Venice to be a breath of fresh air after being in Naples, literally. It was so good to be able to breathe clean fresh air instead of cigarette smoke and city smog. Venice had a lot less beggars and cleaner streets. I don’t think we would have appreciated this so much if we hadn’t just come from Naples. We were definitely glad we saw Naples before visiting Venice.
Apparently our hotel in Venice had overbooked so they upgraded us to a superior suite in a different location. Although the location wasn’t what we had chosen, it worked out to be even better than where we would have been! The suite itself was amazing. The rooms were lit with exquisite glass chandeliers.
Our first afternoon in Venice was spent just walking around. It felt so safe and peaceful, with no cars and scooters zipping past. The sound of traffic and constant honking was replaced with the regular ‘gondola? gondola?’ thrown at us by every stripy shirt wearing gondolier we walked past. We started wondering if they could say anything else! We did get a video of one gondolier singing accompanied by a piano-accordion player.
There were plenty of well dressed people walking around looking in the windows of the fancy and pricey shops. The famous Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) was filled with tourists trying to take selfies. I’m not even exaggerating, they were everywhere. Seriously, they were entertainment in themselves. There were also plenty of hawkers trying to sell roses and selfie sticks. The rose sellers were the worst. They would approach couples and give a rose to the female and then demand money from the male, trying to make him look bad for not buying his girl a rose. Even when I said I didn’t want a rose, one seller actually put the rose in my bag and when we told him we didn’t want to buy it, he snatched it back like we were the rude ones! I soon learned that saying ‘no’ wasn’t enough, I had to either use my husband as a human shield or put my hands out to physically ward them off.
St Mark’s Square, and Venice in general, had a lot of pigeons around. I think feeding them was prohibited because so many pigeons landing, pooping, building nests and pecking at the precious monuments can result in significant damage and cleanup costs. However, we did see some men selling some sort of pigeon food so that people could have their photo taken with a bunch of pigeons on their arm. Of course, being the law abiding citizens that we are, we did not participate in this, but we did enjoy disturbing a flock of pigeons so we could photograph them.
We had some delicious meals in Venice, including the best pasta of our Italy trip. We also ate a lot of gelato, but that was something we did everywhere in Italy, and it was amazing. I tried so many different flavours that it was hard to pick a favourite, but I did particularly enjoy the pistachio flavour.
When I read about Venice, most people said that you WILL get lost in Venice. I didn’t believe them until I got there. I was lost as soon as we were two streets away from our apartment, every day. While walking around we saw a lot of people eating take away pasta from a shop where you could watch them making and rolling the pasta while you waited, so we decided to try some, and it was so good.
We took the lift up to the top of the Campanile Tower in St Mark’s Square at 3:30pm and stayed up there for an hour until sunset. Although the weather on the ground level was quite pleasant, it was so freezing cold and windy up the top of the tower, but the views were worth it.
On our last day we bought a 20 euro all day ticket for the vaporetto (water taxi). It was quite fun and we took the no.14 to Sabbioni and then the no.12 to Torcello, and then another one on to Burano, a colourful fishing island. Burano was SO beautiful, one of the prettiest places I’ve seen. The streets were a rainbow of brightly coloured houses with little flowerpots sitting on the window sills. I couldn’t get over how quaint and lovely Burano was.
After having lunch at Burano, we took another vaporetto to Murano, the island famous for it’s blown glass. We found that island quite bland after seeing beautiful Burano, especially since we had seen plenty of blown glass in the shop windows of Venice. It would have been interesting to watch the blown glass demonstrations, but there weren’t any happening while we were at Murano. On the vaporetto back to Venice, we passed an island cemetery and many marshy looking areas, which is what we imagine Venice is like underneath the layers.
Since we had a 24 hour ticket for the vaporetto, we made the most of it by taking an evening trip down the grand canal. We were also able to use the same ticket the next morning to get back to the train station. Venice was beautiful, refreshing, relaxing and clean. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, but we found that two days was plenty of time to enjoy it!