Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Exploring Italy // Venice

I loved starting this new series last week all about exploring Italy. Spending time in Verona was such a blast and was only the beginning of our adventure. We spent 11 days in Italy exploring so many different cities and towns. It was seriously a magical experience with some incredible people.

Continuing on with this week's adventure, we are talking all things Venice!

Venice


So, like I had mentioned last week, we rented a car for the full 11 days and drove around the northern portion of Italy. We did a loop from Milan, headed east straight across the country, then south toward the Tuscan region, back across to the west coast, and then up the Italian Riviera back to Milan. It was a perfect adventure and the freedom of being able to travel where we wanted versus being on a tour was absolutely worth it to us. I talked all about the car price here!

The second stop on our trip was in Venice. It really is as romantic as the pictures proclaim. The brightly colored buildings dance off of the surrounding waterways.  I'm pretty sure I took some of my very best pictures in this city (and I don't just mean on this particular trip, but in life). There really was no bad shot to be had.



Getting Around

So the first thing I wanted to talk to ya'll about is parking because, as I mentioned before, we had a car. I know the first thing you may be thinking is, "Where do you put a car in a city that has no streets??" Trust me, we had the same exact questions. 

I did a little research and we decided to go with one of the best options, the "island" Tronchetto. Now why is island in quotes? That is because Tronchetto is an artificial island created strictly for parking purposes. No joke. The entire island is one massive parking garage. Super convenient and easy to access, Tronchetto is the first right hand turn coming off of the bridge from the mainland. 

The parking rate was around the 22Euro for 24 hours range (which was pretty standard over there and so much cheaper than any of the other parking areas for Venice). Once you have parked your vehicle there is a public water taxi just outside the garage named ACTV, the no 2 line. We hopped on that and it drove us along the main canal, stopping ever so often to let people on and off. We took the water taxi to the end of the line and headed toward our hotel.

Now you may be asking where our luggage went in all of this. Since we knew we were only staying in Venice for one night, the group of us each packed our own bookbags with overnight items and our next day's outfit. This allowed us to easily travel the waterways without dragging around a ton of stuff. You can absolutely bring your luggage onto the public water taxis (many people did it), but if you are only staying for a short period, the less stuff to carry the better. Those taxis get packed.


Food

Now on to the important stuff, the delicious food! I'm pretty sure by the end of the trip we were all in agreement that our favorite meal was the one we had in Venice at an adorable little restaurant called Marco Polo. Honestly, we picked the restaurant for the cool name but I could not have been happier with our choice. 

We sat outside on the tiny street and really got to be apart of the culture that is Venice. Most of us got pasta that night, each different, but all super delicious. The wait staff were all incredibly friendly and the ambiance was perfect. Marco Polo added so much of what we loved about Venice to our trip. I would highly recommend it! 




After dinner at Marco Polo, whilst wandering around the mostly shut down city, we stumbled upon this darling little local bar, Ostaria Da Simson. Spending the rest of our evening in this location was one of our favorite nights. It truly allowed us to be fully immersed in the local culture, instead of being surrounded by tourists. It was one of our true tastes of what real Italy is like and we had a blast. 


Sadly enough, I did not get any pictures of our lunch outing the next day. The restaurant we ate at was the Moka Efti Crazy Bar. The food was really good and the prices were extremely reasonable for Venice. It sat directly on a small canal where the gondolas would ride through. Here was our view from lunch!


Lodging

While we were in Venice we stayed at the B&B Venice Hazel. This location was one of the coziest of our trip. Booking.com did not do us wrong with any of the places they helped us pick for this trip! We stayed in an upstairs loft with two bedrooms (perfect for the two couples on the trip). This area was complete with it's own living room, kitchen, and bath. It was beyond adorable with the old wood beams running through the ceiling and it gave you a sense of that old world Italian charm.

The property itself was not attached to what they deemed the "main office." We found out once we got there that B&B Hazel holds multiple properties throughout the city. So once we checked in, we did have to walk quite a bit to get to our actual residence. It was truly all worth it once we saw the space however. It was super comfortable and felt like living in a Venezian home. 

Tip! Make sure you bring cash because they do not accept charge cards to pay. I actually found that to be true for most of the places that we stayed at that were not prepaid.   



Places to Visit


These lamps were a highlight for me, not only for their sheer architectural beauty, but because my mother took photos of them while she was in Italy nearly 15 years ago. A photo much like this one has been in my home ever since. 


The strip along the Grand Canal has tons of street vendors, gondolas, and things to see!


The gorgeous architecture of the surrounding various churches.



Take a gondola ride! They are 60 Euros for a half hour, but with 4 of us sharing it that was only 15 Euros a piece. You just can't beat that for a once in a lifetime experience. My one suggestion would be to pick one up deep in the city and not in the largely populated tourist areas. It makes them alot more intimate and not over crowded.


A mask shop! Trust me, you do not have to go far to find one of these. They are everywhere. Masquerade is huge in Venice and there are gorgeous masks and costumes that cover the streets.


The Bridge of Sighs


Piazza San Marco


Basilica de San Marco


The adorable nooks and crannies of the city. Our favorite part of the city was exploring the areas that were not filled with tourists.



All in all, Venice was a gorgeous city. The colors were so vibrant and the city was full of life. If you are someone who is not big into crowds, some of the tourist locations may be a bit much for you. Staying further back into town helped us to get a feel of the Venezian culture without being piled on with tourists.

We all absolutely loved staying in Venice but were completely fine with only being there one night. The city itself is a bit crowded and the prices for most things are pretty expensive. We paid the largest per night fee for our accommodation in Venice then our entire trip. However, completely worth it to visit for the time period that we were there!

Have any of you ever been to Venice? What were some of your favorite parts??


For even more pictures from our trip to Italy, follow me on my Instagram page!

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