I am honestly a very lucky girl. I have a husband who knows me better than myself and spoils me in every way possible. For our first wedding anniversary, which is the traditional “paper” anniversary, I was taken to a fancy Italian restaurant and given this postcard:
At first I was slightly confused and then realised that the itinerary of a trip to Venice was printed on the back. He was taking me to Italy for our anniversary! I then cried like Kim Kardashian into my Spaghetti realising how amazing my husband is.
I didn’t really have many expectations of Venice as it was honestly not on my travel list. I soon realised, upon arrival at Marco Polo International Airport, that this lack of inclusion was a big mistake.
When they call Venice the floating city they mean it quite literally. No roads, no streets, just water. It’s difficult to imagine this until you see a TNT courier “van” float by you on the Grand Canal.
We arrived in Venice on a rather wet and windy day but the excitement of seeing rows upon rows of Gondolas lifted my dull, weather induced mood. The one downfall that you are immediately faced with are the crowds upon crowds of toursits. Yes, I am aware that I am one of them! Thus far in my travels it is definitely the most commercialised place I have visited. But not even throngs of people can take away from this unique place.
Since Venice isn’t the cheapest destination we stayed at a quaint spot called Hotel Lisbona. It may not have been the fanciest of hotels but it’s position is perfect with it’s old-world Venetian charm making it the perfect place for a couples getaway. The view from the canal side rooms was amazing and each night we slept with the windows open listening to the lapping water. Magical!
When we first arrived in Venice my husband and I had a chuckle at all the tourists in their plastic boot covers. We assumed that this was because of all the rain. We soon realised that these were an absolute essential for high tide when the city floods! They may not be the sexiest of fashions but they are a life saver!
It’s quite amazing how the city has adapted to the fluctuating tides with platforms being raised for people to walk across.
A must see and possibly your first point of sight-seeing-departure in Venice would be Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square) and St Mark’s Basilica which is one of the most impressive churches I have personally ever seen.
Piazza San Marco is the principal public square of Venice. All other urban spaces in the city are called “campi” meaning fields.
The Piazzetta above (the ‘little Piazza’) is an extension of the main Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner looking out towards the waterfront. This picture was taken during high tide. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice.
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city’s churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture.
Another impressive and iconic structure at the end of the Piazza, and neighbour to the cathedral, is the famous Doge’s Palace.
The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. Today it serves as a museum and is a must visit if you are so inclined.
A tour through the Doge’s Palace really is a spectacular experience. One attraction I was most looking forward to was walking across the Bridge of Sighs. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600.
Speaking of the Rialto Bridge I do feel slightly disappointed as the bridge is currently under renovation but also plastered with billboard advertising. Not exactly what comes to mind when you think about “romantic” Venice. Nonetheless it is an impressive example of Venetian architecture having been completed in 1524.
I was told not to expect much when it came to food in Italy and that we would be disappointed with the pizza and pasta in Venice. I don’t know if we were just lucky but this was not the case at all! We had the most amazing cheese platters, pizzas and pastas at every meal. And let’s not even start with the gelato!
Another must do when visiting this floating city is to also head out on a day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is famous for it’s glass blowing and a trip to a glass factory is worthwhile. It was once an independent comune, but is now a frazione of the comune of Venice.
I’m sorry Murano but Burano was my favourite! Not only do the striking colourful fishing homes elicit feelings of happiness upon arrival but the history of lace making on the island is something special. Burano rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles, being introduced to such a trade via Venetian-ruled Cyprus.
I purchased some beautiful pieces of lace which now occupy a sentimental space in my home.
A few days prior to me departing for our Venetian adventure I emcee’d the launch of Bidvest Bank’s MasterCard World Currency Card. A fantastic soiree was held at Cube Tasting Kitchen in Greenside. We ate our way through 17 courses from each of the countries represented on the card! That’s 17 currencies on ONE card! This means no conversion fees if you are in a country that doesn’t use either the US Dollar, Euro or Pound. And when you load your card with forex you peg the exchange rate and can thus budget and manage your spend with ease.
Their integrated app is also a saviour! I checked my balance daily and managed (or mismanaged with all the shopping!) my budget.
We had been in London prior to our hop over to Italy and another advantage of the World Currency Card is being able to split your purse into both Euros and Pounds. It really is a travel must for the frequent flyer! You can read more about it, here.
Altogether Venice is a treasure. 3 to 4 days is enough to see the main sights and get lost in it’s side allies of little boutiques, stores filled with Venetian masks and authentic, quant pizzerias. What a trip to the floating city! Bellissimo!