Venice: Our Favorite Things

Venice, a magical city

Although our stay in Venice was just a few days long, I felt that we experienced a lot of what makes this magical and romantic city so special.

Sunset in Venice --- view of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Accademia Bridge

Sunset in Venice — view of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Accademia Bridge

Of course, you’ve probably heard that Venice can be very crowded with tourists in any season, but a visit in the spring will beat the summer throngs. We scheduled our time in Venice to work with a previously set itinerary for visiting other destinations in the Veneto region. That meant that we were visiting during one of the busiest times of the year — the weekend of Liberation Day in April, a national holiday bringing people from all over Italy to Venice to mark the occasion. But we found that although major sites such as the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco were crowded, there were better times to visit those sites (in the morning or late evening), and by veering off the main tourist areas there were many interesting and less-crowded places to stroll and enjoy.

Our favorite things

Arriving by boat

On our cruise to Venice from Portegrandi on the Silis, a tour boat operated by Navigazione Stefanato, we cruised the lagoon admiring the colorful buildings on the island of Burano and stopped on Murano Island to see a glass blowing demonstration at the famous Murano Glass Factory.

Murano Island in the Venetian Lagoon, Italy

Murano Island in the Venetian Lagoon

As we left Murano to head toward Venice, the sky became grayer and the rain picked up which added to the excitement and feeling of intrigue during our slow approach. The conditions also gave a surreal look to the city. I think that the photos we took (shown below) have a look much like Medieval frescoes or scenes in old-fashioned painted postcards.

Approaching Venice in the rain --- springtime in Venice

Approaching Venice in the rain

St. Mark's bell tower and the Doge's Palace seen from the boat as we approached Venice

St. Mark’s bell tower and the Doge’s Palace seen from the boat as we approached

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute seen upon approach to Venice by boat

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute seen upon approach to Venice by boat

Once in Venice, the main way of getting around on the waterways is by vaporetto (water buses) and water taxi (for getting to/from Marco Polo airport). Gondolas are seen everywhere but are mainly for sightseeing and having a quintessential Venice experience, not so much for getting from place to place.

Enjoying sights and sounds of Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), one of the largest and most beautiful squares in Europe, is awe-inspiring. It seemed to always be bustling with people the numerous times we crossed the square during the visit. Its famous attractions are St. Mark’s Basilica, the adjacent clock tower and the Doge’s Palace, but there are also many shops, restaurants, and cafes. The piazza was beautiful on an overcast day, in the bright sunlight, and especially at night with the lights on all of the buildings.

Venetian flags flying in St. Mark's Square on Liberation Day

Venetian flags flying in St. Mark’s Square on Liberation Day

We felt fortunate to be there on April 25th, Liberation Day, which celebrates the end of Nazi occupation in World War II and also the end of the Italian Civil War. It was exhilarating to watch the planned festivities as well groups and individuals waving red Venetian flags promoting Venetian independence from Italy.

Touring St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy

St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica is named for the patron saint of Venice, St. Mark the Evangelist. It is one of Venice’s most recognizable landmarks beneath its iconic bell tower and adjacent to the Doge’s Palace. We took a Walks of Italy VIP night tour of the basilica tour to beat the crowds and we got so much interesting and entertaining background. April 25th is the Feast of St. Mark so there were special flower arrangements on the altar and the panels in the railing were removed so that worshippers on Saint Mark’s Day could fully see the altar where Saint Mark’s remains are said to reside.

Eating like a Venetian

From top left: Fresh seafood market, Prosecco, cicchetti, squid ink pasta

Enjoyment of food and wine accompanied with conversation is part of Venetian culture. We found a wonderful way to be introduced to eating like a Venetian and get tastes of cicchetti (small bites, snacks) and wines of the Veneto region on the Walks of Italy Venice Food Tour, The walking tour allowed us to experience two bacari (cicchetti and wine bars); squid ink pasta for lunch; and the local fish, meat, and produce markets. In late April, we were there in time to enjoy the amazing white asparagus of the Veneto region.

Many of the city’s senior residents slowly make a daily routine of making their their way from one bacaro to the next for food, wine, and meeting friends.

Walking around and getting lost

It’s very easy to get lost in Venice’s maze of narrow alleys, bridges, and squares and those times were some of the highlight of our time there. Just steps away from the main attractions, you can escape the crowds to feel that you’re alone.

Quiet canal scene off the tourist track in Venice

The pretty and serene places you can find strolling through Venice

While taking in the intriguing canals, bridges, gondolas and gondoliers, we came across captivating views.

Classic Venetian scene -- a gondola on the Grand Canal

Classic Venetian scene — a gondola on the Grand Canal

Birds along the Grand Canal in Venice

I appreciate that these birds posed for me in this pretty setting

One of my favorite scenes was the one below of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute from the Accademia Bridge over the Grand Canal at sunset (also the location of the photo at the top of the post).

View from the Accademia Bridge, Venice

View from the Accademia Bridge

Listening to the music

I highly recommend attending a concert to further enhance the visit and immerse yourself in the music that beautifully reflects the history and romance of the city. Interpreti Veneziani holds string concerts in several venues in Venice.

Interpreti Veneziani concert at Chiesa San Vidal in Venice

Interpreti Veneziani concert at Chiesa San Vidal

We attended an extraordinary concerto at the beautiful Church of San Vidal featuring the works of Antonio Vivaldi who was born in Venice in 1678. The musicians and acoustics were excellent.

On my Venice wish list:

Carnevale di Venezia!

Gorgeous carnevale mask seen in a specialty shop in Venice, Italy

Gorgeous carnival mask seen in a specialty shop

Perhaps we’ll get back to Venice for Carnevale sometime. I would love to wear this mask that we saw in a specialty costume shop. Wouldn’t you?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

19 thoughts on “Venice: Our Favorite Things

  1. michele h peterson

    I would love having an expert like Walks of Italy to help scout out the best local foods in Venice. To be there during spring’s white asparagus season would be a real treat. I arrived during artichoke season last year and that was definitely an incredible taste journey.

  2. Jackie Smith

    Oh you’ve captured so well, the magic of Venice. During our last visit we not only had high winds and heavy rain but acqua alta — floods. We found ourselves inching along the raised wooden walkways and hoping the crowds we were passing would inadvertently knock us into the knee-high water covering the old walkways. A most interesting time to see the city, that’s for sure. P.S. Beautiful photos!

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Ah, acqua alta! They told us about that when we were touring the basilica. Sounds exciting albeit a little messy.

  3. Denis Gagnon

    We will be returning to Venice in a couple of weeks (March) so will be experiencing the city in late winter – early spring. I am praying for good weather but will enjoy the city no matter what. We have a couple of exciting restaurants we have not yet been to on our agenda, and, as usual, are planning to ride the vaporetto line 1 along the Grand Canal, and line 12 to Murano, Burano and Torcello. Thanks for a great posting.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Have a fantastic time. Hope you’ll be enjoying good weather, but I know it won’t deter from your enjoyment of the city.

  4. Donna Janke

    I love these photos.This is the second post I’ve read in the past couple of days about Venice. Both make me want to go. I’ve never been. Is the universe sending me a message?

  5. Janice Chung

    I feel exactly the same way. When I started seeing pictures of the recent Carnevale in Venice, I thought, “Gee I should go back”. It’s only been 35 years!!! The food tour would also be great as you’d really get immersed in the city and it’s food more than just going to a restaurant.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      I loved all the photos of Venetians in costume that I was seeing, but I kept feeling a little travel-envy ache. 🙂

  6. Sue Reddel

    I’m having a hard time containing my excitement after reading your post and seeing your wonderful photos. We so want to get to Venice and hope to get their next year. Thanks for the wonderful sneak peek!

  7. Natheli

    We love Venice in the winter, much less crowded and this go around we got a public transport pass that allowed us to hop on and off of any vaporetto, bus and tram so it made exploring a lot of fun. I have a feeling Carnavale might be a bit too packed for us but I’m sure it would be interesting to experience.

  8. alison abbott

    So many wonderful iconic scenes you have shown us in this post. I had the chance to visit Venice a long time ago with my husband. It would be great to return and see how everything has changed (and have a bit more of a budget). Any destination focused on the water is one I always enjoy, and learning from a tour such as Walks of Italy would really enhance the experience.

  9. Pingback: Giving Thanks in 10 Languages

  10. Pingback: Giving Thanks for Travel in 11 Languages | Traveling with Sweeney

  11. Pingback: Giving Thanks in 16 Different Languages | Traveling with Sweeney

  12. Pingback: Romantic Europe: 10 Special Places in My Heart | Traveling with Sweeney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.