I didn’t really believe we’d be there until we stepped off the plane at the small Venice Treviso airport last Sunday night, hopped on a bus, and arrived at the Piazalle Roma around 8pm, whereupon Alberto showed up to take us on the short walk to our B&B room. After dropping our bags off, the night was still young and the moon was nearly full, so we headed back out to find a working ATM (it proved a challenge, but we did it) and then have our first of many scoops of gelato! (My third travel companion, Danny, made sure we had gelato at least once a day — see this post for details of our culinary adventures.)
That’s right! Last week, during my school’s spring break, I traveled to Venice (yes, Venice!) with three Peace Corps Volunteer friends (two clustermates, Kate & Andy, and one other guy from our group, Danny). For two and a half days we wandered narrow streets, crossed canals, ducked into churches, and followed our stomachs to gelaterias. Below, the blow-by-blow:
- Breakfast at the cafe around the corner from our room
- Wandered our way to the Grand Canal, stopping in shops (including a great shop of completely handcrafted Venetian masks) and ducking into churches.
- Lunch in the sunshine on the water
- Continued strolling, the same way as before, until we ended up at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection — Pollocks, Calders, Picassos, Kandinskys, and more modern/postmodern paintings along those lines.
- Got to St. Mark’s Square around 4:30pm, where we promptly got into St. Mark’s Basilica (no line!). Spent a while gazing at the golden mosaics and enjoying the view from the balcony.
- Wandering recommenced, this time toward the Rialto with a few stops to shop and buy olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan cheese to take back to Ukraine (edible souvenirs: the best kind).
- Hit the Rialto Bridge just before sunset, and tried to squeeze between tourists for a place at the railing.
- Capped off the evening with a shared bottle of prosecco at a cute wine bar near in our favorite plaza, Campo Santa Margharita.
- After breakfast we shopped our way through the Cannaregio neighborhood on our way to catch a vaporetto (water bus) to the island of Murano, famous for its glass-blowing.
- My favorite church in Venice is in this neighborhood, the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a Jesuit church with incredible blue and yellow marblework inside.
- After a mid-morning stop for lattes/macchiatos, we hopped on a water bus to Murano, passing San Michele, the cemetery island where Venetians used to bury their dead
- On Murano, we watched a glass blowing demo and then wandered through the quiet streets of this quaint island toward the center, where we stopped in many shops and galleries to ogle the beautiful glassworks.
- Lunch in the sunshine in the center of Murano
- Water bus back to the main island, to jump on another vaporetto (no. 1) that took us down the Grand Canal in the late afternoon sun — went under the Rialto Bridge and saw many beautiful buildings and boats.
- Wound our way through the Rialto neighborhood — stopping at the grocery store to buy balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and parmesan cheese to bring back to Ukraine — back toward our room, where we collapsed and gave each other back massages after a long day of sightseeing and walking.
- Wake-up time: 5:45am. No, not to catch a flight, but to walk through Cannaregio to catch the sunrise! We missed the true sunrise but got to the edge of the island just as the sun was over the horizon.
- After an hour of walking, pre-coffee, we stopped at a great little bakery for fuel before continuing on to see the Rialto bridge one last time.
- Just before leaving, we went back to the mask store so Kate could buy the mask she’d been thinking about since two days before.
Essentially, we walked between 2.5 and 3 hours a day, covering almost the entire main island of Venice during our short stay. I loved the feel of the city: quietly busy, thanks to no cars (only boats and walkers!). Going at the end of March was perfect, because post-Carnevale there weren’t too many tourists. Another perk of the trip timing is that we got into St. Mark’s Basilica without waiting in a line. After seeing Venice, I’d be content never to see Rome, though I would like to go to Florence for the art and Tuscany for the biking/hiking and food.