The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Italy: Venice Part I - the sights

Venice. A city that belongs in the same country as Rome and Florence, yet so different from either of them. If Rome is the busy historical city and Florence is the laidback arty centre, then Venice is the extravagantly superficial but beautiful one whose former charm had long faded away, marred by mass tourism. Thankfully, the intricate canal network and the labyrinthine street patterns of calli (narrow streets developed along canals) and campi (squares adjacent to churches) means that it is really easy to get lost and catch a glimpse of the quiet romantic beauty of Venice away from the tourist mob. This city is at her best in the wee hours of the early morning and the quiet dark of the night, when the place is not overrun by tourists and vendors alike. The following photos are snippets of what we saw during our 1.5 days in Venice.

We took the vaporetto (water bus) from San Lucia train station to our B&B near San Marco Square. Here we are approaching Riva degli Schiavoni, the main waterfront of Venice. The Ducale palace and the tower of San Marco Square is visible:

Walking along Riva degli Schiavoni towards San Marco Square. Bridges are aplenty in Venice:

Crossing a bridge over one of the narrower canals. A couple is enjoying their gondola ride below:

Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic design. It was the Doge's residence a few centuries ago:

Basilica di San Marco, adjacent to the Palazzo Ducale:

Crossing over another bridge over a wider canal:

Standing at the far western end of Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) and facing east. The Basilica and Palazzo Ducale is just visible behind the tall tower:

One of my 2.5-year-old's favourite pastimes - chasing pigeons. The wide open space of S. Marco Square is great for the little ones to run around (in the morning before the massive mob of daytrippers from cruise ships invade the space):

On the gondola tour (I'd managed to bargain €10 off the hefty price):

My boys enjoying the gondola ride:

The southern face of the famed Rialto Bridge as viewed from Riva del Vin:

There are many retail shops in Venice, including many mask specialty stores. Below is the display window at a shop selling elaborately designed masks, which were some of the most beautiful I saw during our trip:

Now this is the kind of shops that catches our attention - FOOD! All sorts of delicious looking Italian breads and baked goods on offer at this store. Rob bought a rich chocolate bar:

Nougat was on our list of Italian foods to try while in Italy. We bought some Zabaglione-flavoured torrone morbido (soft nougat) from this confectionary store. Sugary nutty heaven!

The calli (streets) are narrow and cramped, developed along the numerous canals that interweaves through the islands of Venice. Churches are everywhere:

Not all bridges in Venice are the traditional types; there was a modern bridge spanning across the Grand Canal near Piazzale Roma (where the main bus terminal is, and if I'm not wrong, this bridge is the link between the bus terminal and the train station). It took us almost 2 hours walking leisurely from our B&B to Piazzale Roma, where we caught the No. 1 vaporetto back to San Marco Square via the Grand Canal:

The Piazzale Roma -> San Zaccaria route on the No. 1 vaporetto is a great way to tour the Grand Canal. Here is a view of the Rialto from the vaporetto on the Grand Canal:

At night, as if by magic, Venice transforms into a serenely beautiful city. The canals are still and quiet:

This is Riva degli Schiavoni at night, quite a lot less congested without the hordes of tourists and vendors:

Coming up next, a post dedicated entirely to the lovely meals we ate in Venice.


  1. Such beautiful photos! I'd love to visit Italy one day... I always say that I should have been born Italian :)

  2. Italy is beautiful, and I would love to go back and explore more of the Tuscan countryside :)

  3. I agree that the photos are really exciting, it looks like you had plenty of fun visiting Venice.

  4. Just curious, with those many stairs, did your tots cope alright?
    The reason I'm asking is we plan to bring our 2.5 yo daughter there too, but wasn't sure with strollers and stuff. cheers,

  5. Hi @lfani, thanks for reading my blog! My son loved running through Venice, climbing the stairs and such (we kept a really good eye on him near the water edge). When he was napping in the stroller, hubby and I would just grab either sides of the stroller to climb the stairs. It wasn't a problem with two adults, but the stairs and stroller would probably be very annoying if I were to travel to Venice on my own with my son.

    Happy travels!