Ciao! I just came back (ok I went in October, but it doesn't feel that long ago) from a trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey! I have always wanted to visit these countries and I am so happy I did.
- Check into Hotel Al Piave - This hotel was very quaint and reasonable priced. We stayed in two of the newly renovated rooms. The rooms and bathrooms were large! I couldn't believe it (you know how small European living can be)! The only problem was that the rooms were on the 4th floor. There was no elevator so each day we had to climb up a tall and steep flight of stairs. Phew! I'm tired just writing about it. They did say that they were installing an elevator and it should be done soon. Breakfast was also included in our reservation. The cappuccino was so delicious! Scrambled eggs, bread, yogurt, cheese, prosciutto, salami, fruit, and a tart were also served at breakfast. Overall, I am so glad we chose this hotel. The rooms were large, the breakfast was good, it was centrally located, and the prices were reasonable. It was such a good find!
- Eat dinner at Pizzaria Antica Sacristia. This small restaurant was just around the corner from the hotel. We got in around 9:30pm after flying for 11 hours and navigating the Venice streets to find our hotel. We were famished!! The fried seafood special they had that night was delicious and not greasy. The mushroom pasta was also a hit!
- Breakfast at the hotel. See above for food items. I drank hot chocolate and ate bread with Nutella just about everyday!
- Buy a Vaporetto ticket to San Giorgio (2 Euro). The Vaporetto are Venice's water buses. They stop frequently along the main canal at designated water bus stops (think a bus shelter on the water). It was quite interesting trying to find the stop for the right Vaporetto line especially because the drivers were on strike! Ask the Vaporetto operator if you are not sure where you are going. Usually they will tell you if you are on the right bus or not.
- Visit San Giorgio Maggiore. It is free to visit the church, but we did pay the 5 Euro to take the elevator to the top of the bell tower. It was beautiful up there! You can see the main island of Venice, the Grand Canal, and other surrounding islands. I highly suggest visiting the bell tower (great photos)!
- Travel back to the main island and walk around St. Mark's Square. I got some gelato from Todaro Gelateria right at the entrance of the square. The main square is packed with day tourists from the cruise ships. There are a lot of cute restaurants with live bands playing in the square. Of course you will always find those little toy vendors and gypsies. It was super crowded so I suggest visiting after 5pm when all the day-trippers have left.
- Meet our tour guide, Elisabetta. I found our tour guide in the Rick Steves' book. She took us on a 2 hour tour of St. Mark's and the Venice back streets. Elisabetta was very imformative and opinionated (in a good way :) ). I really liked having a personal tour guide because she was flexible with what we were interested in seeing. It was also nice having a local show us around because it gave us the chance to see real life in Venice. We learned about local architecture, history, and traditions. I would highly suggest getting a private tour guide. It is well worth the money!! For our 2 hour tour, we paid $130 ($65/hr). Between the 6 of us, the fee wasn't bad. Email me if you would like more info on our tour with Elisabetta.
- Eat lunch at All'Arco. This restaurant is located near the Rialto Bridge market. It is down a side street, but not too difficult to find. The calzone was huge!!
- Visit the Tragicomica mask shop. Venetian masks are everywhere, but many are made in China! Visit an authentic mask shop to learn more about the tradition of these pieces of art.
- Visit Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari and Santa Maria della Salute. These are two grand churches with beautiful artwork.
- Stroll and cross the Accademia Bridge.
- Eat dinner at Anima Bella. This is a small place near St. Mark's Square. The menu is very simple and is cooked by your waiter! I had the Pesto Lasagna, and it was soooo delicious! Go here and try it!
- Eat gelato at La Boutique del Gelato. This is the best gelataria in Venice, in my opinion. The hazelnut and lemon flavors were yummy!
- Eat breakfast at the hotel. More bread and nutella for me!
- Visit the Accademia. This museum was filled with lots and lots of Venetian art. It took us about 2 hours to view the whole museum. It is a very famous museum and I suggest visiting if you like art. Entrance fee was 11 Euro.
- Visit La Basilica dei Santa Giovanni e Paolo. I came here with my brother to see St. Catherine of Siena's foot! Strange, I know, but it was kinda neat/creepy to see a piece of a saint! The entrance fee was about 5 Euro.
- Check out of the hotel and head to the train station via Vaporetto (San Zaccaria to Ferrovia station).We were really early for our train so we walked along the streets near the train station. The main street was filled with tourist shops and restaurants. We stumbled upon a church, San Geremia, and decided to go in. Above the alter we saw the tomb of St. Lucy! Very cool to see her especially since she died in 283 CE! What a nice discovery!
- Depart from Santa Lucia Station to Santa Maria Novella (Florence)!
Books and Maps
- Rick Steves' Venice, of course.
- Streetwise Venice Map. This map was a lifesaver! It gives the names of the winding streets, so it was very useful.
|St. Mark's Square|
|On the Accademia Bridge|
|A mask, of course|