Venice was amazing. It’s just like everyone says really, so romantic, beautiful, with an air of faded grandeur. The whole place feels like a theme park but it’s actually real. You get a real idea of exactly how rich and powerful Venice was at its height, but also of the problems Venice faces today of trying to maintain all of its beautiful buildings and deal with rising sea levels without having the money a trade empire brings in.
We flew Ryanair, which I found very pleasant (and the 1p ticket price was nothing to complain about either!). The flight gets into Treviso airport which is 1 hour by bus (costing 5€) to Venice. The other option is to fly with another airline into Marco Polo airport, which is half an hour by vaporetto to Venice. I would definitely fly into Treviso again, it was fairly hassle-free. Have some euros with you though for the bus as there is nowhere to exchange currency although I think there were cash machines.
We stayed in a room organised through Santa Croce 555 – they have few different room locations and types but our room was good – near the bus, rail, and a main vaporetto station. It was “upmarket hostel” style with ensuite, twin beds and tea/coffee/biscuits in the room. No complaints there.
After getting settled we made our way to the Piazza San Marco. The Piazza is beautiful by night as there are fewer people, fewer pigeons (during the day people feed them and they terrorise the whole square, it’s horrible), and there are bands playing live music outside some of the restaurants. Instead of paying San Marco prices though we headed back over to a restaurant near our room for dinner.
On day 2 we went to Murano and watched glass blowing for ages before going into every single glass shop (well it felt like it anyway). I tend to find a lot of it a little tacky but I did end up with a very nice bronze-coloured sparkly bead bracelet and a clear round Christmas bauble with lots of tiny clear strands of glass inside (I actually bought them back in Venice I think). It’s absolutely beautiful and a nice addition to my collection (apart from books and yarn, I collect Christmas decorations from places I travel to. It’s a great excuse to buy a tacky souvenir, and at Christmas the whole point is to be tacky!).
Back in Venice it was starting to rain so we went to the Doge’s Palazzo. Very impressive, and lots of information was given on big signs in every room – much better than the dreaded audioguides (Being a very visual person I’ve got a thing against audioguides). We had dinner at an osteria recommended by a guy we met in Murano. I had a potato and mushroom dish accompanied by beans with tomato sauce, both local specialities apparently. Yum!
Day three we did a big walk to the Rialto bridge and the Piazza again, where we went to the museums. Entry to the museums is included in the Doge’s palace tickets. Lots of Italian religious art (seriously, how many Virgin and Child paintings do we need?) but interesting Venetian stuff too. Then it was time to head to the train station for our 4-hour trip to Siena. Which I will post about later!