Venice

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: August 2022

Venice is located in northern Italy and is commonly referred to as the floating city, the city of canals and the city of water. It was built on 117 small islands in the Adriatic Sea and is connected by 150 canals and 391 bridges. Instead of cars and bikes, there are only pedestrians, small boats and gondolas. In addition to its waterways and beautiful bridges, Venice is also famous for its architecture and art.

Day 1: Canals and Art

After spending the past few days in the Tuscan countryside, it was time to head back to the city. We dropped our rental car off in Florence and took the train into Venice. We arrived early in the evening and were immediately amazed at just how charming the city is with all the canals. Now we just needed to lug our suitcase across a few of these bridges.

The next morning we slept in later than usual, which worked out well as it was lightly raining outside. By the time we finished eating breakfast and were heading out, the clouds were just starting to clear. We walked through the maze of streets and narrow alleyways, passed several canals and crossed many bridges.

We started off at the Santa Maria della Salute, which is one of the most iconic and photographed churches in Venice. It was built to commemorate the end of the plague that began in 1630. Much of the facade outside, however, had scaffolding and was under construction, so we couldn’t admire its full beauty. While entrance into the church is free, we paid a few euros to take a “guided tour” up to the top of the dome, which really just consisted of some guy who walked up the stairs in front of us, opened the doors and waited for us to finish before escorting us back down. At least the views from the roof were stunning.

We then went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which showcases Peggy Guggenheim’s personal art collection in her former house. The collection includes a lot of modern art that’s considered important from the 20th century. Modern art really isn’t my thing, so many of the exhibits were lost on me. But we certainly had a lot of fun discussing what is considered art.

From there we headed to St. Mark’s Square to visit the Doge’s Palace, which once held public offices, contained a secret prison and served as the residence of the Doge of Venice, who was the elected leader of the former Venetian republic. We had booked tickets in advance for the Secret Itineraries Tour, but we were required to print our voucher in advance. We found a shop along the way to print them out. Our tour allowed us to skip the long line that was wrapped around the building. We still had to go to the ticket counter to trade in our voucher for our tickets and to collect a special sticker for our tour.

The Secret Itineraries Tour included a guided tour through some of the hidden parts of the Doge’s Palace, which include narrow passageways and prison cells. We started in the courtyard to admire the beautiful facade of the building and all the marble decorations. From there our guide opened up a locked door on the ground floor which leads to the first series of prison cells, which are referred to as the Wells. Conditions here were rough as the ceilings were low, the ventilation was poor and the cells were often flooded when the tide was high. Prisoners who were found guilty of the more serious crimes were locked up here.

We continued through the series of narrow staircases and passageways, passing a series of public offices, archives (which once held secret documents relating to the work of the Venetian courts), the Chamber of Torment (where interrogations were held, which often involved some form of torture) and the Leads (the second series of prison cells with far better conditions for the wealthy criminals or those convicted of minor crimes). As part of our tour, we got to peak inside the cell that was once occupied by Casanova, who managed to successfully escape from the prison.

As part of our tour, we also crossed the Bridge of Sighs, which was built to connect the Doge’s Palace with a new prison that was constructed on the other side of the canal. The bridge’s name refers to the sighs drawn by prisoners as they crossed the bridge from their trial on the way to their prison cells, catching one last glimpse of the outside world through the tiny windows.

Our tour ended at the golden staircase, which leads to the other, fancier side of the palace. We passed through the Doge’s Apartments and institutional chambers. There were signs along the way to explain the significance and purpose of each room. While many of the rooms didn’t have any furnishings, the ceilings and walls were elaborately designed and decorated. We also passed through the armoury and the new prison.

After taking a break to eat a late lunch, we visited the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which contains a collection of Venetian art from the 14th to 19th centuries.

From there, we meandered through the narrow streets back to our accommodations for the evening.

Day 2: St. Mark’s Square

As per usual, we headed out early in the morning to go for a stroll when the city was still quiet and the temperature was more comfortable. We crossed the Rialto Bridge, the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.

We made our way towards St. Mark’s Square and crossed a few more beautiful bridges and scenic canals. We also passed the Santa Maria dei Miracoli, which is known as the marble church. We were there a bit too early as it was still closed for the day.

We then went to the Ponte della Paglia, which is reputed to provide the best views of the Bridge of Sighs, which we walked through yesterday as part of the Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge’s Palace.

We had reserved tickets in advance for St. Mark’s Basilica for the first time slot available. While we had to pay a few more euros to skip the line, it was well worth it considering the line was wrapped around part of the Doge’s Palace by the time we arrived.

St. Mark’s Basilica is the most famous and well-known church in Venice. It is connected to the Doge’s Palace and was once the Doge’s private chapel. Some restoration work was still being done on the exterior of the church when we visited due to a major flood from 2019. The interior of the church was elaborately covered with golden mosaics depicting biblical scenes. We paid a few extra euros to see the Pala d’Oro, a lavishly decorated golden altarpiece, which is covered with nearly 2,000 precious stones.

We had also booked tickets in advance to climb St. Mark’s Campanile, but we had a few minutes to kill before our time slot. We wandered around the square some more and admired the architecture, including the Torre dell’Orologio, which displays the time of day, the dominant sign of the zodiac and the current phase of the moon.

While you can climb the clock tower, we figured we’d get a much better view from the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. The bell tower is just under 100 metres in height and is the tallest structure in Venice. It served as a watchtower and to guide Venetian ships safely into harbour. Today, you can take an elevator to the top to admire a panoramic view of the city. Since we had reserved our tickets in advance, we didn’t have to wait long for the elevator to whisk us to the top. While the views from above were fantastic, it was a bit too overcrowded for our liking. We typically had to wait a few minutes at each window for our turn to take a picture. We then had to wait in another line to catch the elevator back down.

At this point we were getting hungry, so we walked back to our accommodations for lunch and picked something up from the grocery store on the way. We headed out later in the afternoon to do more exploring, starting with the Ca’Rezzonico, a museum that features a collection of art, furnishings and various objects from the 18th century.

Afterwards we went to the Teatro La Fenice, a famous opera house in Venice. We were provided with an audio-guide and took a self-guided tour through the building to learn more about its history. Its name means “phoenix in English” in reference to it being reconstructed twice (or being born again from its own ashes) following a fire in 1836 and 1996.

It was then time to eat dinner. We went for another stroll around the city to soak in the views, enjoy the cooler temperatures and burn off the calories from all the pasta and pizza we’ve been consuming.

L

80 thoughts on “Venice

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I can see why Venice is one of your favourite cities. It’s very gorgeous. I must say, there was something really nice about being able to walk everywhere and not having any cars around. It all felt very relaxed, even though there were a lot of other tourists around.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    I have avoided visiting Venice during the summer because of how crowded it is, but your photos show it as peaceful and quiet. You must have been up very early to enjoy that, a great plan because during those quiet times, you can really see how beautiful Venice is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Waking up super early was a great way to explore the city without having to shove our way through the crowds. It also helped that we booked most of our tickets in advance, which we had to pay a bit extra for, but it allowed us to skip the lines, which was so worth it. There’s nothing worse than standing in a long line on a hot day with the sun beating down on you. Plus it just feels like a waste of time sometimes. Our morning walks were definitely the best part of the day.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Diana says:

    What a beautiful city! I always wonder, though, who first decided that a city basically built on water was a good idea. Getting around seems complicated and I can see why places were closed to repair flood damage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Venice is very picturesque. It can be a bit tricky to navigate the maze of canals and bridges, especially when carrying a suitcase. Thankfully we bought a SIM card when we first landed in Italy as there is no way we could have explored Venice without having Google Maps to rely on for direction. I have no idea how people did it back in the day. Venice has been having a lot of issues with flooding, especially in recent years. I’m so glad St. Mark’s Square wasn’t underwater when we visited as we didn’t exactly pack our rain boots. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as sea levels continue to rise.

      Liked by 2 people

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I imagine it also wasn’t nearly as busy in the early 80s as it is nowadays! But hey, I guess I can’t complain about the crowds too much because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much worse it would have been to visit when the city was actually flooded. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. kagould17 says:

    Awesome in depth exploration of a beautiful place Linda. Our time there in 1984 was limited by the tour we were on, but we still enjoyed visiting Venice. I don’t think the behind the scenes tour was operating when we were there. That would have been great to see. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad we got to see Venice before it sinks any further or is claimed by the sea. It’s such a neat city. I imagine not much has changed since when you visited in 1984, except for the water damage. Taking the Secret Itineraries Tour through the other side of the Doge’s Palace was one of my highlights. I guess this means that you’ll just have to come back someday. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda

      Liked by 2 people

  4. wetanddustyroads says:

    Venice is just so picturesque – you did justice to the city with your photos! Ha, while looking at that washing line, I’m wondering if any of those clothes ever lands in the canals (if it was mine, it would certainly be the case 😉). The St. Mark’s Basilica is truly amazing (and although you had to wait a bit, the views are wonderful). Great post, thanks Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I must have taken a picture of every street and canal that we crossed as everything just looked so pretty. There was something so nice about not having any cars around. Good point about the clothesline! I’m sure you learn real quick about how to safely secure your linens and garments! Given how busy everything was, I had no regrets about paying a bit extra to skip the line in places like St. Mark’s Basilica or the Doge’s Palace. There’s nothing worse that feeling like you’re wasting time on vacation. Or having to wait in line in the sweltering sun.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ab says:

    What a beautiful tour of Venice you both enjoyed during your stay there. The architecture, art and level of detail in the buildings are so wonderful.

    I hope that by visiting the church built to commemorate the end of the plague in the 1600s is a good omen for the plague we’re currently in ending soon too!

    I love the artwork that you shared. The level of quality in those pieces really feel like from an era long gone from today.

    Did you ever watch Casino Royale, the first Bond film starring Daniel Craig? Venice was featured prominently in the climax and your photos reminded me of those scenes.

    You’ll also have to do an Italy food post please!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Venice felt very magical with those narrow streets and winding canals. Plus it helped that there were no cars around. And yes, hopefully our plague will be ending soon. At least all the restrictions have been lifted. Although, I’ve heard that COVID hospitalizations have been rising again.

      It’s funny that you bring up James Bond because a few people pointed out that Siena was also featured in one of the films. I haven’t seen too many of the James Bond movies, but maybe I should. It’s always neat to see somewhere you’ve been captured on film. I’m currently battling a wicked cold so it seems like a great excuse to just take over the couch and watch some of the latest James Bond movies.

      Liked by 2 people

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. St. Mark’s Basilica is gorgeous inside and out. I’ve never seen a church quite like this before with all the golden mosaics covering the ceilings. It made the church seem brighter and feel warmer.

      Like

  6. leightontravels says:

    So cool to get this insight into how Venice looks these days. You had some great clear skies, which really makes everything pop in your photos. Still a bit jealous that you had free reign inside the basilica with your camera 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. I’m so glad they changed the rules around photography inside St. Mark’s Basilica! I was also thankful that we visited when the square wasn’t flooded as that does not seem like it would be a fun experience. Instead we had to deal with the heat and crowds. Either way, we had a wonderful time.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Such beautiful photos of your visit to Venice Linda. We stayed for five days a few years back at Easter-time. I preferred the central areas from mid-afternoon when all the day trippers had returned home. We didn’t get to the Peggy Guggenheim art collection but hopefully one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! We found that first thing in the morning was a great time to explore the city without the crowds. It wasn’t too crowded later in the evening after everything closes, but at that point we’re already pretty exhausted. And I’m not much of a night owl. The Peggy Guggenheim collection was okay, but then again, I’m not a huge fan of modern art. I just don’t get it. But hey, it’s always good to have an excuse to return somewhere as beautiful as Venice!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! such a wonderful, interesting and beautiful post! I love Venice! One of my favoutites places on the world. Makes me remember some nice things. Thank’s for share, Linda
    It is a very romantic city. Happy for you! Enjoy a lot.
    Elvira

    Liked by 1 person

  9. travelling_han says:

    Oh beautiful Venice – I absolutely loved the city when we visited back in 2018. We didn’t go to the Theatre though, and it looks amazing, so will have to add that to the list for next time. What a wonderful Italy adventure you had and your photos are stunning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I was blown away by how charming Venice is. I must say, there was something really nice about not having any cars around. The theatre was a last minute impulse decision, but I’m glad we went as it was quite nice. It would be neat to actually watch an opera there in person. Next time.

      Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Venice does have that effect. It’s a very photogenic city. Doge’s Palace was easily one of my highlights. I would highly recommend taking the Secret Itineraries Tour as it’s a great way to explore and learn about the hidden passageways and original prison cells.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Bama says:

    One important thing I learned after reading this is it’s better to book things in advance to beat the crowd. For some reason, images of Venice I often see are usually a bit grey and gloomy because of the weather. So it’s really uplifting to see your photos with those blue skies — the way the sun cast shadow on those old buildings really makes the scenes all the more dramatic and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Even though we had to pay a bit extra sometimes to reserve our tickets in advance, it was totally worth it, especially when visiting during the middle of peak season in August. We also really lucked out with the weather. We mostly had blue skies and sun, and it was actually cooler than usual, which is great for wandering around the city. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Discover and Explore says:

    Thank you all for sharing. We just returned from Venice. Our first time! A big wow:) Gorgeous city. The water that runs through the city as lifeblood. As the gondolas float down the waterways. Sensational little cafes. Wonderful shops with artistic window displays. And so much more. A must see. Thank you

    Like

  12. michellecj333 says:

    My daughter visited Venice a few years ago as part of a study abroad program with her College. She didn’t enjoy it, and as a result, did not do a great job of representing it to me at ALL. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of Venice, and I am thoroughly re-enthused after reading your glorious post! Just incredible, and you did a beautiful job with the photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s too bad that your daughter didn’t have a positive experience with studying abroad in Venice. It’s such a pretty city, but sometimes there can be a huge difference between being a tourist and just visiting for a few days versus living there for several months. Then there’s the issue of flooding. I don’t imagine it would be a fun city to explore when it’s rainy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • michellecj333 says:

        She was actually only in Venice for 2 days, and she had a wonderful experience everywhere else she went, so I”m sure she just didn’t hit it right when she was there! I sent her your post and told her to check it out to see if she saw anything familiar

        Liked by 1 person

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It’s too bad as Venice was such a highlight of our trip to Italy. It was super crowded though. If we didn’t plan ahead and book skip the line tickets for a few of the popular attractions, we might not have had the same experience as standing in line is never fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. BrittnyLee says:

    I love all of the knowledge I gain reading your blogs. I never knew about the church, Santa Maria della Salute or that it was built at the plague’s end. It’s scary to think how people places and people that were touched by that plague. The architecture there looks like it alone could tell all of the ancient history. Venice looks amazing 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. Venice is very charming with all its canals and beautiful bridges. It’s the perfect place to just wander around and get lost. It is wild to look back at history and to hear about all the different plagues and diseases. Here I thought COVID was bad, I can only imagine how much worse the situation would have been back in the day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • BrittnyLee says:

        That’s a really wild thought. Back then, so many people probably passed away from things we have today because medicine wasn’t as popular yet. Living past thirty was a miracle. It’s a crazy thought. Beautiful post 🙂 sorry I took so long to get back !

        Like

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        You are too kind. This time of year is always a bit hectic with the holidays. Hope you’re all ready for Christmas. And agreed, it’s crazy how life expectancy has changed over time, in large part thanks to modern medicine.

        Like

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