“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Dr. Emmett Brown
Venice had always been near the top of our “To See” list. The idea of a city that has no roads and has to be navigated either on foot or via canal was so fascinating to us. We wanted to walk down the tiny alleyways that twist and turn. Explore with no direction, no agenda, and to float down the Grand Canal in a Gondola while taking in the beauty of the unique city. A relaxed kind of sightseeing.
To accomplish this, we had to drive our rental car North, from Florence to Venice, and park in the Tronchetto Garage — a garage advertised as “The Cheapest Car Park in the Center of Venice!” Was it comparatively cheap? Yes. Was it in the center of Venice? Didn’t seem that way to us! But we were planning to spend four days in the city and wanted to save a few bucks on parking costs, so Tronchetto it was!
On a frigid January day, we parked our car and started walking. Approximately 5 minutes later, we arrived at the “People Mover” — an elevated shuttle that makes three stops:
- Tronchetto Parking Garage;
- Cruise Terminals; and
- Piazzale Roma (Venice’s main hub for arrivals).
We boarded the nearly empty People Mover for 1.50€ each and took it to the third stop — Piazzale Roma — then began the journey to our hotel. Earlier in the day, when we had access to wifi, we put walking directions in Dax’s iPhone from Piazzale Roma to our hotel (we didn’t have an Italian SIM card so we had to plan ahead when we had wifi). Dax pulled out his phone to take a look: ETA 25 minutes.
We were immediately fascinated by the city. The small alleyways and heavy foot traffic; shops selling masks, puppets, and paintings; the canals being used by water taxis, delivery boats, and gondolas treating visitors to a unique experience. It was all just as grand as we had imagined and we couldn’t wait to get checked in so we could start exploring!
While walking through the winding alleyways of Venice, the GPS on our phone wasn’t always sure where we were. Not to mention that posted street names didn’t always correspond to street names the phone was telling us to turn on.
Eventually, we realized there are many ways to skin a cat (metaphorically speaking) when it comes to walking somewhere in Venice. As long as we generally head in the right direction we could get to where we were going. But on day one, when we were still trying to get our bearings, it was a bit hectic!
We circled back many times trying to find our way. On our first day arriving in Venice, we came to a bridge-less canal crossing. We couldn’t reroute the directions without wifi to find an alternate route. Reluctantly, we had to buy a ticket for the water bus (7.5 Euro each!) even though we only had to go one stop! Really ate in to our savings from parking far away, but what can you do.
After about 35 minutes of walking (not too bad!) we finally arrived at the Hotel Cavalletto & Doge Orseolo. We were right near Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), the main square in Venice, and our room overlooked a canal pickup spot for gondola riders. It was glorious!
We immediately set our bags down and went out exploring! It was refreshing to see unique art in the shop windows. In several of our stops leading up to Venice, the vendors were all selling the same old cheap souvenirs and we found it to be annoying and lazy. Venice was quite different!
The next morning we bundled up and set out early, just aimlessly walking through the city. We absolutely loved it!
We walked all day without a care in the world and couldn’t have been happier. At one point, we stumbled upon the Rialto Bridge, a famous Venetian bridge crossing the Grand Canal, lined with shops!
It was a perfectly uneventful day in Venice!
Early the next morning, we took advantage of the sunshine that day, and hired a gondola for a ride through the canals. The cost was reasonable (and fixed for all tourists) at 80 Euro, which bought us a 30 minute private tour. Although a little cold, it was a fantastic experience.
Murano and Burano
Next we hopped on board the vaporetto waterbus and made our way out to the island of Murano — famous for it’s beautiful glassware. Once there, we toured a glass factory admiring the beautiful sculptures — with no intention of handing over the hundreds of dollars (or thousands in some cases) it would cost to own one!
After Murano, we continued on to the next island, Burano — famous for it’s lace and colored houses. We got there just in time for a beautiful sunset which painted the sky in shades of pink!
We walked around for a bit admiring the colors, but it was starting to get really, really cold so we hopped on the next vaporetto. The vaporetto navigated through frozen waters, chopping its way through the ice, and making the 30 minute trek back to Venice.
Most of our final day in Venice was spent walking, exploring the city, picking up souvenirs and gifts, sipping whisky to stay warm, and enjoying the time we had left there. It was a wonderful way to close out our time in this beautiful city!
The next morning we packed up, checked out, and went outside only to see that Venice was flooding! Apparently this is a frequent occurrence and one that is driving locals out of the city. Luckily we were able to avoid the flooded areas on our walk back to Piazzale Roma.
Our time in Venice remains one of our most favorite vacations to date. If you have an opportunity to visit, DO IT! You won’t regret it.
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