23 March 2016

Walking the streets of Venice

Getting Lost! - Italian Diaries Part 2

from the bell tower

The sound of bells welcomed us into the new day! Normally I wouldn't mind them, they are soothing and sweet in sound. Today however it felt too early for them and I wanted more sleep! Oh well there is Venice to explore and after a hearty breakfast it was time to become a tourist and really get to grips with this compact city. Welcome to Day 2 of our Italian adventure.

Explore, explore, explore
Our hotel was some distance from the heart of the city but having experienced the water bus it was right to head out on foot and explore the maze of streets and canals. All the guidebooks suggest the best way to experience Venice is to walk it, and that is what we intended to do. With a map to hand, we worked our way into the small streets, plotting our path towards the first point of interest; Rialto Market. Being with a group it resulted in a number of "shop" stops on route. And calls of "Head down this street". "Oh look lets go down this one". "Now how about this way?" "Haven't we already been down here?" "I just want to look in here quickly"- Probably all familiar terms to anyone who has walked these narrow alleyways. Isn't that the fun of it? And once you immerse yourself it really isn't that bad. There is so much to discover. 

Rialto Markets
Anyone like fresh fish? Or perhaps a juicy ripe strawberry? Well if you do then visiting these markets are a must do. Having walked, stopped at shops and stopped at more shops we finally made it to Rialto fish and vegetable market. The fish looked so fresh, the strawberries so red and ripe. Oh and very yummy they were too. After that brief stop it was then over the bridge and into the main central area. Our destination Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark's Basilica and the imposing Campanile. If there was one element of the Venice package that did annoy me it was the many, many tourist shops. All selling the same items that we buy and then soon discard. Want a masquerade mask? Some "tacky" goods, scarfs, etc etc. It was a little too much for me. The charm of Venice lies in the normal, the side streets, little bridges and the unexpected. 



Up the Bell Tower
Next to the cathedral (Basilica - flamboyant, opulent) on the corner of the square is the bell tower (Campanile). A chance to survey Venice in full. No stairs here, just a slow meandering lift that takes you to the top. It's fair to say the view is worth it, if a little cold from the breeze that was prevalent. The scene below is of tightly packed houses, with the Adriatic Sea a grey hue in the distance (well it was on the day we visited). But what a view, what a wonderful view. And there was hardly a queue; bonus!

Top Tip 2: Venice can be expensive (as can the rest of Italy) so visiting the local supermarket and picking up some fresh produce can be a great way to save pennies. And the food isn't half bad.

The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking coffee and exploring whatever parts we felt. There's a great free museum full of viola's and cello's thats worth a look. There is no denying that Venice is a beautiful city. A place that should be on your bucket list. Yes its very busy with tourists, it isn't the cleanest of cities and the number of tourist shops are a put off. That aside, this is a city that wants you to explore its tight pathways and canals. Discover a lovely cafe, and eat good food. Tomorrow we were to bid farewell, Florence was next on the agenda. Although our stay was short, it was certainly pleasant.

The author - proving he was there!
I hope you are enjoying these diary entries, please feel free to comment and I do hope you'll join me for the next stage of our mini tour as we head to Florence (Firenze).

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