24 Hours In Venice
I originally planned to call this post 48 hours in Venice when we booked a two-night stay in The Floating City, but our prior trips to Europe taught us the first day off an airplane is best employed recovering from the jet lag. Yes. . . jet lag is a real thing so plan accordingly. So, we were left with an honest 24 hours to explore this marvel of the Renaissance and ancient maritime bastion of power. As I describe below, this is ample time to fulfill all your Venecian dreams, and any more time spent would detract from other must-sees in Italy.
Our hotel was just off the island of Venice, which I recommend to save on costs and logistics of navigating to your stay. We quartered at the quaint, but beautiful, Hotel Villa Margherita. Just for point of reference in case you're traveling to Venice. . . it's a twenty-five minute taxi ride from the Marco Polo Airport (the main air-hub for the city) to Villa Margherita. The cab set us back $60, which is a little pricey in my opinion, but I couldn't wrap my head around taking a bus on our first day in Italy.
Speaking of buses. . . I'm not a fan. I've taken public transportation back home a few times. However, I've always associated the experience with dirty handle bars and eclectic people. If we had to take the bus growing up, we were glued to our mother's hip. After riding the bus from our hotel into the city though, I can say with confidence the public transportation system in Europe is much cleaner and equally less shady than its counterpart in the United States. Side Note: They don't believe in "maximum capacity" here. So the bus WILL be shoulder to shoulder crowded. You WILL feel like a sardine. K.
Back to Venice. . . we literally wandered all over the city without much of an agenda other than to eat, see a museum or two, and then eat some more. We strolled down hundred-year-old alleys crowded with patisseries and artisan shops selling their blown glass wares. When we reached the end of a strada (Italian for street) we turned right, or left, it didn't really matter, and then we wandered some more.
Matthew found us a great spot for a mid-day snack called Ostaria Dai Zemei. They are known for their endless selection of cicheti (think gourmet bruschetta) and they did not disappoint! Make sure you snag a table and wait for the waitress to come out. There is no hostess that seats you.
After eating, we crossed the famous Grand Canal Rialto Bridge to get to the southern end of the city. This bridge is crammed with people. Take your photo, and head off through the Rialto Market towards Piazza San Marco.
After the Grand Canal Rialto Bridge, we mustered over to Piazza San Marco Square and visited Basilica di San Marco along with the Doges Palace. If you're smart like my husband, you'll purchase your tickets to the basilica online and pay the extra few bucks for their fast pass. We easily saved ourselves 45 minutes of wait time by doing so. Also, if you're carrying a backpack or a large tote, you will need to check it into their luggage room before visiting the Basilica. The Doges Palace didn't have a line or bag requirement.
I'm a big fan of blogger Gal Meets Glam, and last year when she visited Italy she stopped at Cafe Florian. That made it a must-see for me as her dessert looked incredible. And it was. This cafe is incredibly special because it is the oldest cafe in Europe, dating back to 1720. You'll be in the finest company here, both past and present.
After our dessert break, we decided to end our day with a gondola ride and dinner. Renting one of these historic long-boats is not the most budget-savvy event ($100 for 30 minutes) but Matthew insisted on doing it, so we did. I know years from now, we'll look back and be grateful.
We enjoyed dinner right off the Grand Canal at the restaurant Sommariva. The food was good and the service was fair. Honestly, you're paying a little extra to eat right off the Grand Canal and we felt it was worth it. The best part of dinner were the Italian patrons who would break out into random song, jeering, and finally cheers with neighboring tables. My favorite line from the night as one group saluted a fellow Swiss guest. . . "Viva Switzerland, viva Italia, viva Football!!"
After dinner, it started to gently rain and we called it a day, satisfied that we had truly experienced this metropolitan sensation. All the hustle and bustle of seeing new places is fun, but at the end of days like this I can't wait to snuggle up into a warm bed and jump onto my blog to tell about it. Venice is beautiful in its own special way. It's amazing to see the architectural craftsmanship and caring attention to detail which has captivated the hearts of so many generations. As I listened to the church bells ringing while we left the city, my imagination drifted to all the people who labored, lived, and loved here hundreds of years ago at the peak of the city's influence. I realized that they were not so different from you and I, and though the sails of time and space may separate us, we are still cut from a common thread.