Take us back to last summer, when we were happily exploring everything Venice and then Rome had to offer!
This will be the first of a few posts about our Italian adventure, we will try and keep them informative but lots of fun.
When we had thoughts of travelling to Italy (a first visit for both of us) we had envisaged it would be difficult to achieve on a tight budget especially in August. 'Venice is the most expensive city' we were continually advised. Actually when we seriously started looking into it we discovered that by booking the flights and accommodation separately, we could keep the costs fairly low. We decided after much deliberation that we would like to do a split stay. So, booked flights to take us to Venice, where we would stay for 3 nights, then a train to take us from Venice to Rome, where we stayed a further 4 nights before flying home. Looking back, we would say we absolutely got the balance of time right. Whilst we both fell in love with Venice and will definitely return one day, having more time in Rome allowed us to see so many more sites!
We are definitely not the kind of family that go on holiday to sit still, which I am sure you will discover! So if full on culture and exploring holidays are for you then please read on…
Venice Day 1;
We had an early flight into Venice so we arrived in the morning and could make the most of every second of the trip. Despite living around an hour away from Stanstead airport, we chose to stay in a hotel the night before. Looking at parking costs for the week it really wasn’t that much more to stay overnight with parking included, and secondly because Sammie has the need be at the airport far earlier than we actually need to!
We are going to do a separate post on transport and travelling in and around Venice, so look out for that one, it definitely pays to do your research before going.
Our first adventure after the transfer from the airport was travelling down the grand canal in a water bus heading towards Piazza San Marco (which translates to St Mark's Square). Aboard this we got an insight into how beautiful and unique Venice is, it was clear right from the start we were going to love our time here.
We had booked our accommodation via booking.com after doing a lot of research, we chose a room with a private bathroom and a shared kitchen in an apartment just off of St Mark's Square. This turned out to be an excellent choice we were central to everything, it was so easy to explore with this as our base.
Wanting to get out and explore straight away we dropped our cases and wandered straight back round towards St Mark's Square. The first view you get when you turn into St Mark's Square from any walkway is Saint Marks Basilica. It is huge and very impressive!
Its free to visit the Basilica, there is often a queue and a lot of websites will tell you to pay to avoid this with priority entrance, but we visited twice during our stay and found the line did move quickly so even in peak season we didn’t feel that was necessary. Once you get into the Basilica, you can simply explore the ground floor, or you can pay 5 euros to visit the museum and explore upstairs including going out onto the balcony. We would absolutely recommend doing this, we found out so much about the history of not only the Basilica but also Venice and you get the added bonus of some beautiful views across the city as well. Its also worth noting that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the Basilica, but you can however take pictures once you are out onto the balcony.
Our next stop was lunch, and quite frankly the first thing we wanted to eat when we were in Italy was Pizza! So after wandering down some beautiful alleys we stumbled across a little café with seating overlooking a waterway. Its always worth going ‘inland’ a little when in Venice as the cafes and restaurants on the grand canal do tend to be a little bit more pricey. We had a pizza to share (they are huge!) and a drink each for under 15 euros which we felt was great value.
Venice is definitely one of those places where something amazing lies around every corner. We spent the rest of the day and evening walking through alleys, along waterways and crossing many bridges. Taking in the views and culture.
When we eventually stopped for dinner we were exhausted! So didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty for the amount of carbs we were about to eat! We choose to eat in a restaurant called Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino recommended by our accommodation host. They have an amazing range of Seafood but we went for meatballs and Carbonara. It was delicious and we would advise a visit.
After a long day we enjoyed some wine outside our accommodation sitting by the waterway reflecting on what had been a fantastic first day and looking forward to the next.....
Look out for our post on day 2, which will include lunch by the Rialto Bridge, tips on how to get amazing views of the city for free, and a must do when in Venice…. Our Gondola ride.