Visiting Venice, Italy our way

IMG_3966 (2)C and I had both been to Venice as 20-somethings traveling the continent. Our memories of it were “smelly”, “crowded”, “overrated”.  When an unexpected event caused us to change some plans en route from France to Slovenia, we found ourselves booking a last-minute 5-day stay just outside of Venice.  And, we are glad we did.  Venice redeemed itself in our eyes.

Our priority for this stop was convenience, life convenience, not tourist convenience, so we booked an apartment outside of the canals of Venice, where the locals live, with plenty of space, AC and free street parking.  However, it was an easy bus ride into Venice, so we made the trip in a few times. It was really hot while we were in Venice (like over 90F/32C), so we made the very wise decision to wait until about 5:00pm before we took the bus into Venice. By the time we arrived, after 5:30, the sun wasn’t as strong and the crowds were smaller.

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The bus dropped us off right next to the main canal of Venice

Our first trip in, we headed for St. Mark’s Square, which was at the far end of the main canal from the bus station, so we hopped on a Vaporetto (a public transport boat) towards (we thought) St. Marks.  After a while, I wasn’t quite sure we were going in the right direction, so we decided to hop off and follow Google maps.  What a wonderful plan that turned out to be! If you have any experience with Google maps, you know that sometimes they take you on roads that may technically be the fastest route between two points, but may be a small or very local street.  Well, in Venice, this was the case and it was wonderful!  Getting away from the tourists crowding along the main canal and walking the main signposted route to St. Mark’s allowed us to wander, peacefully and sometimes alone, along the streets of Venice.

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Not another person in sight while we walked down this lovely Venetian street in the middle of summer!

We occasionally happened upon a side canal and a small bridge to cross it, but spent much of our time away from the water (though it is everywhere, it could have been one street over for all we knew). IMG_3913

 

IMG_4055.JPGAs a “planner”-type with small kids, just wandering around a city was never really my thing, but Venice may have converted me! We went by shops and through squares frequented by the locals.

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A typical Venetian square just outside the main tourist areas.  

We meandered our way through the streets of Venice, and after a stop for gelato (of course!), we arrived at the very beautiful and very crowded Piazza San Marco.

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Here are all the tourists!

 

IMG_3956We enjoyed walking around and looking at the beautiful buildings, pigeons and tourists (in no particular order) around the square.  Then, since we were at the far end of Venice by then, we hopped back on a Vaporetto boat and rode it back to the bus station, enjoying the views of the buildings on the canal along the way.

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During our ride on the Vaporetto, we went by a gondola with a couple in it.  The man got down on one knee and proposed, and all people on boats nearby started clapping and cheering. It was a great moment to experience!

The rest of our time in Venice was spent hanging around our apartment, leaving only to eat at a few local restaurants (when in Italy…).

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Delicious and cheap pizza from a restaurant near where we stayed, outside the main tourist area

Overall, we enjoyed our relaxing time in Venice and would highly recommend the “wander the back streets in late afternoon” approach to a summer visit to Venice!

 

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