Venice

Gondolas along the lagoon

Visited: March 2017

There is no place as exceptional as Venice. There are a thousand reasons to visit Venice, but all you need is one. Venice is a dreamy city made up of alleyways, bridges, music, gondolas, and an overall romance that drifts through the air. This was my first visit to the city of canals. It’s a beautiful city that is mesmerizing and memory making.

Where We Stayed:

The Hotel Vecellio

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We chose this hotel because it was away from everyone and on the far end away from all the sights, the noise, and was right on the lagoon. Don’t judge it by it’s exterior. It could not have been more perfect. The staff was amazing. Soft bed with clean sheets.

Our room view was incredible.

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Breakfast Zen

And because of the location, it was one of the most affordable rooms in Venice.

What We Saw:

Libreria Acqua Alta 

books in boats

This eccentric little shop brags that it is the “Most Beautiful Bookshop In the World”. The bookshop swells with books stacked from floor to ceiling. Stacks of books can be found on shelves as well as bathtubs, a boat, and a full sized gondola right in the store.

libreria acqua

The shop sits right on the edge of a canal. With the common flooding Venice experiences, the owner just naturally thought storing the books this way was the best to keep them dry.

San Zaccaria Church

San Zaccaria

A beautiful church with art and politics that spans the centuries. The central masterpiece is the Bellini altarpiece.

The church for centuries was tied to the richest and most powerful people in town. Most famous was the convent and nuns. The abbess was usually a relative of the Doge. Stories of well to do daughters from Venetian families forced into the convent talk of parties and salons. When the powers that be at the time wanted to stop the party, the nuns chased them off by throwing stones at them!

Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

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Venetian people call it San Zanipolo. The church is a wonderful place to visit that tourists normally ignore. If you need a moment of peace, this is the place for you. The atmosphere still preserves the atmosphere that is typical of authentic Venice. There is a lot of history inside. Many Doges have been buried there so the church is almost considered to be a Pantheon.

The church is more than 100 metres long, separated by rows of columns. There are many chapels and alters within. One for Saint Catherine and Saint Joseph.

 

Saint Mark’s Basilica

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St. Mark’s Basilica looks a lot different from the Doge’s Place as the basilica was built in the Byzantine style during the 9th century. It was built to house the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist.

Great story of how the relics came to Venice. The relics were actually stolen by merchants from Egypt. It is said the relics were snuck past the guards by hiding them in barrels filled with pork. The guards being Muslim did not inspect the barrels and they were smuggled out to Venice. The Venetians are not ashamed of the way they obtained the relics. Outside the basilica you can see a mosaic of the event!

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Doge’s Palace 

doge's palace

The Doge’s Palace is a great example of the Venetian Gothic style and building dates back primarily to the 14th century. The palace served as both the private home of the Doge of Venice and his family and the seat of government. The Republic of Venice was administered from this building for centuries.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo

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The Scala Contarini del Bovolo is located in Corte Contarini del Bovolo, not far from the Rialto Bridge. La Scala is a beautiful outdoor spiral staircase. Bovolo in Venetian in fact means snail. It is quietly tucked away in Venice in a hidden courtyard. The site has not been open for many years due to a long restoration. But it is open now!

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Go into the office and pay to climb the stairs. I recommend using the audio guide if you enjoy artwork. As you climb you can stop at the floors to view a moving art collection.

Climb to the top to see a spectacular panorama of Venice.

Scala View
View from the top

The Scala can be a bit difficult to find. Using Google Maps, find your way to Calle della Vida. Look for these helpful footprints to point you in the right direction.

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Rialto Bridge

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Bridge of Sighs

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It is that if you kiss your loved one at sunset, passing under the bridge in a gondola, your love will last forever.

What We Ate:

Ca’ d’Oro Alla Vedova

It’s the perfect place to enjoy the Venetian ambiance and to escape the crowds. Ca D’Oro is a typical Italian trattoria. The staff is friendly and it’s truly no frills. The food arrived quickly and was tasty. Reservations are required for the evening, but you could get by walking in as we did during lunch.

The menu is affordable and it is a charming place to enjoy classic Venetian dishes.  Our meal started with homemade bread and a local white wine. I ordered the vegetarian lasagna and Hubby ordered the spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams, garlic and olive oil).

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If you have difficulty finding it, just ask a local. It’s a very famous restaurant and most know where it is!

Life in Venice:

View all the places we stayed and visited on our European Tour. 

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