Venice is surreal. The notion of purely water based transportation in itself is an oddity. Like the other big cities in Italy, it has tourist meccas, the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco specifically. The areas near these two spots seemed even more packed with tourists and low quality/over priced food than Rome. Learned the hard way that an espresso in Piazza San Marco costs about $14 USD. Conversely, strolling the streets and canal bridges in the evening is an experience that can’t be replicated. Just watch out for the dog poop. No matter where you are some amount of the people will not pick up their dog’s doo doo. This fact is amplified when streets are narrow and there’s no grass or trees. Also of great importance, the canals did not stink. I can’t speak for whether they ever do stink or how badly they smell if and when they do, but I don’t recall a single foul odor. My wife and I visited in late May. Maybe it was luck or maybe people tend to exaggerate. In fact, the lack of exhaust from cars and scooters was quite pleasant.
I was dragging through Venice, half out of it from an illness I’d been fighting off the whole trip. Luckily our bed & breakfast had the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in (Italy or otherwise). Actually, B&B Sandra was perhaps the best B&B I’ve ever stayed in. The owners, Sandra & Leonardo, make you feel at home and prepare an extensive breakfast daily. The B&B is within reasonable walking distance of almost anywhere, but of course you can take the water buses instead. No gondola or water taxi rides for us, not sure it would be worth the euros when a good seat on the water bus gets you all of the same sights.
The food was much better in Florence and Tuscany in my opinion, but I’d imagine we just didn’t seek out the right places. One tip is that the food seemed to improve proportionally to the distance from the Rialto and San Marco. Lunch at Osteria L’Orto dei Mori was memorable. The cicchetti (similar to Spanish tapas) bar tour is also an excellent way to go for a dinner. Hopping from bar to bar sampling the specialty of each with a glass of wine made for a great evening. Perhaps one of the best things we ate in Venice were strawberries from the local street vendors. Maybe Venice has the best strawberries in the world in May, maybe I normally eat crappy strawberries. I don’t know but they were the best I’ve ever eaten.
The short trip across the lagoon to the island of Murano is worth it for a few hours to see the famed Venetian glass work. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to post as most of the shops prohibit taking pictures of their work. The glass is gorgeous but also on the pricey end. Expect at least 150 euros for a decanter or vase with real quality to it. Some of the shops conduct live glass blowing demonstrations. Watched a guy make a very detailed horse out of glass in about two minutes. Impressive.
The first shot below is an HDR that is admittedly a little unrealistic looking, however I thought that it fit with the surreal feeling of Venice in general. I tended to rely on the 14-42mm Olympus kit lens as the close quarters and tight streets are more conducive to a mid range lens. Though it’s crowded, watching the gondolas go by below the Rialto in the evening is a do before you die type of experience.
Next post: Naples