Venice the Floating City
There is just something about Venice that appeals to the heart and touches the soul. Whether you are visiting Venice for the first time or the twentieth, you cannot fail to be fascinated by this amazing “floating” city. Hundreds of winding cobbled streets conspire to get you thoroughly lost, washing hangs out to dry high above your head, beautiful shops and markets on every street corner and food, food and more delicious food! Strolling along the Grand Canal, or stooping to feed the pigeons in St. Marks’ Square I wonder why all the elegant Venetians I see sitting at the pavement cafes look so un-impressed with all this grandeur – I suppose that comes with living in such a high-profile and tourist-filled place. They may be unimpressed, but for me and the other smiling, gesticulating visitors, Venice the floating city, is a magical place.
On my last visit I found just the Perfect hotel (after many hours surfing the Internet, I should add!) situated right on the Grand Canal. We were joining a cruise in Venice and needed a fairly inexpensive place to stay that would be convenient to the Cruise Terminal; what good fortune to find the Residenza d’Epoca Ca’Favretto. I cannot speak for the other rooms that faced away from the water, but the two rooms we had overlooking the Grand Canal were just wonderful – full of beautiful antiques, loads of atmosphere and one of the best views in Venice.
Getting around in Venice
This can be tricky to say the least! We arrived by train (overnight from Vienna – great fun!) and took the water bus to the stop we had been told, but once there we were completely lost within 5 minutes. Of course, the men refused to ask for instructions! Maps are helpful, but often what looks like a street ends up at the waters’ edge, and you have to back track …very confusing. But that is part of the charm of Venice, provided you are not rushed for time. Do use the water buses (Vaporetto) or water taxis; they are convenient and the buses are inexpensive. Try a gondola if you can afford it: very romantic but very pricey!
Main Sights in Venice
Luckily several of these are situated quite close together around St Mark’s Square. You do not want to miss the magnificent Basilica di San Marco – one of the most opulent churches you will see. Next up is the Doge’e Palace and the famous Campanile di San Marco – the very tall bell tower. Off St. Marks square is the lovely Santa Maria della Salute church. These are just a very few of the main attractions – the best way to experience Venice is to get yourself a really good guide-book and walk until you cannot walk anymore! Then…stop and eat!
Food and Drink in Venice the Floating City
Food plays a very important part in the lives of both locals and tourists to Venice, not just nutritional but also social. It is impossible to walk more than a few metres without seeing a food store or restaurant. The food we ate was generally excellent, if overpriced. A few tips: sitting down at a sidewalk café for a cup of coffee or glass of wine is going to cost you plenty, especially around St. Mark’s square; have your coffee standing at the bar and it will cost you about half. Also, move away from the main tourist thoroughfares and try and find little places packed with locals – you will recognise them – they are the elegant ones without backpacks – this is where you can experience really good local food at more realistic prices. Remember, in Venice, you end the working day with a glass of Prosecco (sparkling wine) and NEVER drink cappuccino after midday!
If you are cruising around the Mediterranean, make sure to choose an Itinerary that includes Venice the floating city. Cruising out of Venice along the Grand Canal at sunset is an experience you will never forget.