Venice, Italy is a town like none other. You truly have to see it to believe it. Here are some of my favorite things I did while visiting this one-of-a kind city.
I know it sounds crazy, but getting lost is one of the best ways to explore Venice. Chances are you will get lost whether you plan on it or not. The twisty-turny alleyways that lead to a main street, that leads to other twisty-turny alleyways makes for an adventure in itself. Take a day where you don’t plan on doing anything but exploring. You will find many hidden gems along the way. The best time to do this is early in the morning when the streets are quiet. Take it all in, watch the locals open their shops, and smell the pastries fresh out of the oven.
You can of course, take a gondola ride because what is more “Venice” than that? However, I highly suggest spending that money on a private boat tour instead. You get much more bang for your buck while learning all about the gorgeous city and the rides are much longer and more comfortable.
Some fun facts I learned: The colored stripes on the poles in front of docks represent the family crest colors. Most of the (huge) houses there have been family homes passed down for centuries after centuries. There were also some great scandal and ghosts stories.
Any and every question you may have about Venice will be answered while cruising along the beautiful canals.
If by the end of your trip you do not feel like your veins run with olive oil and vino, you’re doing Venice wrong. There are many amazing restaurants in the city, so much so it is hard to find a bad meal. Of all the places I ate, these are the ones that I would highly recommend:
Gritti Palace– This exclusive hotel has a fabulous patio on the most scenic portion of the Grand Canal. Here you can watch the gondolas and boats pass by while sipping a tasty cocktail. Many celebrities have been known to stay here , some most notably, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It’s not all about celebs and scenery at the Gritti Palace however, the food is delicious. They offer many fresh seafood items, and have a great wine and cocktail list. It’s the perfect place to have a beautiful lunch.
I tre Mercanti
– If you are craving tiramisu this little shop has the best in the city. They make several other flavors of tiramisu as well, but if you’re anything like me, you can’t beat the original. They also offer lots of goodies like homemade biscotti’s, olive oil, and specialty wines. Not only is this a great place for dessert, it’s the perfect place to buy edible/drinkable souvenirs.
Trattoria Al Gato Nero– Where do I even start with this gem? Besides having one of the best seafood meals of my life, the service is incredible. Everyone from the bartender to the owner impressed me with how personable they were and how special they made all their guest feel. It is located on the colorful island of Burano. It is very important to have a reservation here, as it is very busy. Most of the portions are made for 2 persons or more. I had the “Al Gato Nero Experience” which is pretty much the entire appetizer menu on one big platter. I also had lobster and seafood spaghetti. Everything was extremely fresh and delicious. In fact, I am drooling as I type this just reminiscing about how fantastic it was. For dessert, I recommend strawberry wine, but be careful, it’s dangerously strong.
Murano- Under a mile north of Venice is Murano, an island most known for glass blowing. Here you can watch glass blowers in action crafting the most elegant designs from perfume bottles to extravagant chandeliers. This is a great place for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
A few miles from Murano is the charming island of Burano. Known for it’s colorful houses and beautiful lace, it’s truly unlike anywhere else. The story behind the painted homes was told to me by a local like this: Burano was a big fisherman’s town. Many men would go on fishing expeditions and return late at night or in foggy weather. Since all of the homes looked the same and had no addresses it is said that a lot of men would go into the wrong homes and get into bed with a strange woman, only to find out in the morning they were in the wrong home. Legend has it that the women got fed up with their men awaking in unknown beds and decided to paint their homes in all different colors so they would have no excuse for waking in another womens bed. Now, take that story with a grain of salt because who knows if this is just some wives tail, but I found the legend to be pretty entertaining.