I had received mixed opinions about Venice. Ones would say “stay away, too touristy, too smelly, too crowded, not as beautiful as pics show”, Others would say “Venetians are awfully unkind to tourists, food is extremely expensive, stay away”, and others will say “Go, just go, its THE place”. So the stupid me decided to go with the “crowd against Venice” as they were in majority. So, we decided to be one day in Venice (from arrival, in the afternoon, to departing next day at 1h00pm). Well, unluckily in this particular situation majority does not win all the time. Because I have not enough adjectives to describe Venice. I use to say: Florence is Art, Rome is History and Vibe, Venice is love and magic. It is surreal, it is poetic, it is extremely enchanting, it is of a beauty I cannot describe, it is mysterious, gorgeous, unforgettable.
Venezia, magnificent, moody, welcoming, sophisticated yet simple, intricate, mysterious, fascinating, romantic, intoxicating, woman, yes, Venice is a woman ❤
And I will come back, because I need more time. I took a 1000 pics, in ONE day, but I need more. Every step, every corner, every face, every channel is worth seeing. And I did get lost, oh yes I did. And a very kind Venetian took his time to help us, detouring from where he was going and taking us all the way back to San Marco. That makes me go back to the start of this post: “stay away, too touristy, too smelly, too crowded, not as beautiful as pics show” – I say “go, just go. Touristy yes (as much as Florence and Rome), smelly? Maybe, I did not feel it; Crowded? yes, as with all other places I have been in Italy; not as beautiful as pics show: either you are insane, or you have been seeing the wrong pics. It is MUCH more beautiful than pictures show. “Venetians are awfully unkind to tourists, food is extremely expensive, stay away” – I found them kind and willing to help, as I described above, a perfect example of what I found. Food is as expensive as other places, it depends on where you go. Stay away? Hell no
We took the train from Florence to Venice at 11h30. We headed to a tourist office in the train station and bought the Venezia Unica silver pass that costs app 29Euros and includes Free admission to:
- Doge’s Palace and the 3 Civic Museums on St.Mark’s Square
- Your choice of 3 Churches on the Chorus Circuit
- Querini Stampalia Foundation
- Venice Casino – Free Admission Ticket.
You can buy it online and that would be a much better option as you can plan in advance.
Venezia Unica is an all-in-one pass to use for public transportation, admission to tourist attractions and cultural events in the city, and many other useful services.
You can buy your Venezia Unica City Pass online, and choose the products you wish to buy. When you have completed the purchase, you will visualize a voucher, which will be sent to you in your confirmation email, complete with the PNR booking code you will need to collect the pass you have purchased, and for direct admission to the museums, churches and other attractions and services you have selected.
- For public transportation, you can collect your pass by entering your personal PNR booking code at one of the ACTV automatic ticket machines or by presenting your voucher (with the PNR booking code) at one of the many Points of Sale and Collection in the city. You will receive your City Pass to use for the public transportation services.
- For admission to the Museums, Churches or other attractions and services you have purchased, all you need to do is present your voucher or City Pass (with the PNR code) directly at the entrance.
You may use the products you purchased within 24 months of the date of purchase (printed on the voucher as “date of validity”) except for products with a specific expiration date, such as AVM parking: in this case the expiration date is the exact date for which the service was purchased and must be used.
I fell in love right on arrival. Oh, and did I tell you that Murphy loves Ruth? (My BFF and traveling companion). Oh yeah, we arrived in Venice, and it was raining cats and dogs and a cold 12ºC (which for me its fine but Ruth already feels cold at 20ºC so….).
Starving and trying to wait for rain to stop, we seated on the veranda at the train station and I ordered a coffee with cream that was delicious. As the rain seemed even worse, we decided not to waste any more time and headed to the vaporetto as we were staying at San Marco. And that was it, I fell in love right there, on the railway station stairs, overlooking the Grand Canal. The vibe, vibrancy, people, boat traffic, buildings, everything looked out of this world, even raining, even foggy, even cold. Oh Venice, what a place.
We picked the vaporetto to San Marco, after validating our pass, and as cold as it was that day, I stayed outside the whole time, trying to absorb all the beauty around me, and taking photographs. Be prepared, as the photographs will be many. The trip took approximately 40 minutes with various stops along the way, until we arrived at San Marco.
The rain was worse, and we not quite sure how to get to the hotel, so under the rain we went (luckily we had only hand luggage), asking on our way, how to get to the hotel. To make things worse, we did not have an umbrella with us, it was windy, and the rain simply refused to stop.
We were soaking wet by the time we arrived at the hotel (Residenza Favaro) just to find out that check-in was on another place – Hotel Opera (amazing staff, very kind and helpful) less than 5 minutes away, that felt like an eternity. After finally getting to the room, time to change clothes and shoes, and leave to be able to see as much as we could.
So we left, take a little detour to buy a jersey for Ruth and headed to Piazza San Marco. Our pass gave us free access to museums at Piazza San Marco as well as to the Basilica (entrance) as well as other museums that we did not have time to see, such as the Jewish Museum in Cannareggio. We decided we could not miss Palazzo Ducalle and the Basilica, and the others around San Marco square we would be seeing if time was enough.
And there she was, now seen with time and all due respect to such a beautiful place: Piazza San Marco, the most beautiful Piazza I have ever seen, stopping you in time and transporting you to a whole new world of beauty.
On the right of the above pic we can see a very long arcade, which buildings are called Procuratie Vecchie, and used to be both the home and office of the St Mark’s Procurators and built in the early 1500’s. Along the arcade, on the ground level, shops, restaurants and cafes that include a very famous Caffè Quadri that used to be frequented by the Austrians when they ruled Venice back in the 19th century and thus not very much a place the Venetians liked.
At the back, Museum Correr (which we also visited) and on the left are the buildings known as Procuratie Nuove (as opposed to Vecchie) designed by Sansovini and finalized by Longhena.
Magnificent with all its 5 domes and 47m of height, San Marco cathedral is for sure something you will never forget. It dates back from the 9th century when it was constructed to be the host of St Mark’s body. However in the late 9th century it was burnt down and rebuilt, then later in the 10h century burnt again, the present basilica was completed in 1071, showing the 5 Byzantine domes, and marbled walls (marbles were from places as far as Syria and Egypt), as well as beautiful mosaics.
As you enter the cathedral, its just overwhelming. The inside is not an anti climax as I found Il Duomo di Firenze to be, its just a continuation of the magnificent exterior of the basilica. Rich, intricate, ceilings, sculptures, mosaics, everything about it its beautiful and impressive.
The Venezia Unica gave us access for free to the basilica, but be aware that inside the basilica you pay to have access to several sections of it, which summed up can be quite expensive.
The west facade gallery has 4 horses made of bronze, from the 4th Crusade in 1204 (Doge Enrico Dandolo sent them to Venice), original from Constantinople. As a curiosity, Napoleon moved the horses to Paris but they were returned to Venice in the beginning of the 1800’s. The originals used to be outside on the balcony, but presently to protect them were moved inside and replicas were put in their place.