Tuesday, February 25, 2014

La Serenissima

By the time our train had rolled into Venice, we had already experienced so much of what Europe was famous for. Delicious beer in Munich, complex history in Prague and the tranquillity of the Italian alpine foothills. The end of the trip was in sight, but not before a visit to the itinerary's most renowned stop.

Venice is a fascinating city. 100% car free (or anything with wheels for that matter), it comprises of small canals, narrow alleyways and historic squares. It's only "highway" being the picturesque Grand Canal snaking through it. Within moments of being there, it becomes clear that no other place is quite like it. 

Venice - where the streets are paved in water!

Due to it's relatively small size and colossal popularity, Venice is often quite crowded, especially near the main tourist sights of Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge. This doesn't mean that you can't lose yourself down one of her hundreds of quiet alley-ways, surrounded by time-worn buildings that haven't changed much for centuries. 

The Rialto Bridge - The most famous canal crossing in Venice

I found it was these quiet alley-ways, these tiny bridges over shallow canals free from the tourist hordes where Venice really showed her charm. The hub that is Piazza San Marco, while impressive, was underwhelming when compared to Prague's Old Town Square or Munich's Marienplatz as seen earlier on our trip. What these cities couldn't compete with however was the serenity of a quiet collection of mazed streets with dead-ends into bright azure water and majestic old bridges begging for a photo-op. 

Beautiful bridges and canals perfect for a snapshot

Come to Venice for a gondola ride? 80 euro is the base fee which doesn't take into account premium time of day or music. Why not save that cash and catch a gondola go by a tiny canal while you and your lover stand and watch on a bridge? The city is a maze and even the best of maps will lead you astray. Forget about the planned tourist trail throughout the city and instead let yourself wander. There is no wrong way, and there is something to enjoy around every corner. 

The quintessential Venetian image

If you are coming to Italy for the world famous cuisine, I can't offer my recommendation of Venice. There are more subpar tourist trap restaurants per square mile that anywhere I have ever visited. Our first night was spent wandering the city looking for some decent street food, but all we could find was overpriced pizza that had been sitting out all day. With much help from TripAdvisor we were able to find some decent restaurants frequented by locals, but still came away generally unimpressed from a culinary standpoint. The high-point of eating came when we found a fantastic little deli where we were able to get slices of prosciutto, mortadella and local cheeses to make our own sandwiches in the hotel room. The store owner told us that many of the original shops like hers had closed in favor of those catering to the tourist crowds.

The deli we found has no name posted, but was on this street
Venice is on most traveller's European hit list, and it should be. It offers a romantic backdrop that no other place can. Blaze your own trail through the streets without spending too much time stuck in the crowds, and save some of your culinary expectations for your next stop in Italy. Venice is a feast for your eyes and for your heart.

Hotel Review:
Hotel San Cassiano Ca' Favretto

Mike @ Palms & Pints 

No comments:

Post a Comment