After an amazing first day in Venice (if you missed it we blogged day 1 here), we were up early and raring to go with more exploring planned for day 2.
First stop for us was a short wander from our accommodation across San Marco Square and a lovely little cafe with riverside views of the Grand Canal who served ice cream for breakfast! When in Italy you can have ice cream for breakfast right? Its probably worth pointing out now, that we used the 'when in Italy' excuse A LOT during this trip!
Next we took a stroll down the beautiful alleys and waterways until we came across the Rialto Bridge. Everything in Venice is just so pretty, we spent time wandering around a nearby market and posing for pictures on lots of bridges, which after a spot of people watching we discovered this seems to be the thing to do! Watching people get the most instaworthy pictures was just fascinating.
As the views were just so stunning we decided to stop for lunch overlooking the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. There are lots of waterside restaurants here, and they all seem to churn out deals at different times of day to compete with each other. We chose one that had a deal on drinks, then had a pizza and a side to share, which was more than enough for lunch.
Whilst we were at lunch we took the advice of our accommodation host and booked a slot on the roof top terrace at T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which is a department store with stunning views across the City. Its a bit of a 'best kept secret' as we would not have known about it if it wasn't for our host. Its free to go onto the terrace, but you must book a slot online otherwise they will not let you in. We would recommend you find the time to enjoy this if you are visiting Venice, we didnt feel rushed, there were information boards so you could look out for landmarks and it really did give us the most amazing 360 view.
Before our trip, and through a recommendation from Neil's parents, we had booked a tour with a lovely guy called Marc. The tour would be around 90 minutes long and then would end with a 30 minute gondola ride. There are lots of people offering tours and gondola rides in Venice, so we felt much more comfortable that we had been given a recommendation. We had discussed with Marc before our trip what we were interested in and he then tailored the tour to meet our requirements.
As soon as we had finished looking at the stunning city views, we made our way back towards San Marco square to meet with Marc. Although Marc advised us he much prefers to do tours that provide you with a little more of the lesser known facts, he was more than happy to answer our questions about San Marco Square before we moved on. We were taken all over Venice by foot, exploring areas we would never had visited had it not been for Marc, he gave us a huge amount of history and was able to answer loads of questions.
He took us to a quirky bookstore, Aqua Alta that if you wander all the way through you will discover steps made out of books.
He taught us about the tiny wine bars in Venice, where its not unusual to pay 1 euro for a small glass of wine. You can also enjoy little tapas dishes called Cicchetti, we decided we would definitely make our way back to a couple of these on our last night.
Lastly on our tour, we headed for our Gondola ride, the good thing about Marc booking this on our behalf is that the Gondolier we had was happy to point out every bit of history along the way. We weaved in and out of the waterways and even ventured onto the Grand Canal. The only disappointing thing of the whole ride was that Neil did not sing 'Just one Cornetto' which he had said he was going to do! Sammie thinks the Gondola ride was incredibly romantic and both of us agree that it is definitely a must when in Venice.
Our tour including the Gondola ride was 150 euros. Which we felt was great value for money. Gondola rides on there own were often being advertised for anything between 70-90 euros and they do only last half an hour. We learnt lots of interesting facts about Venice, did you know that Venice was built on wooden foundations around 1500 years ago? Neither did we until we went on the tour, and because we had a personal guided tour we could ask lots of questions too. So to get a personal guided tour (and not with groups of people) for only around 60 euros more made it fantastic value.
We ended our day wandering around a neighbourhood in Venice which Marc recommended to us, it was less known by tourists so prices were cheaper and it was filled with tiny little wine bars where we enjoyed Aperol Spritz and wine aplenty!
By the time we wandered back through San Marco square it was very late, but the bands were still playing to the customers in the cafe's. We stopped for a while enjoying watching the world go by, before heading back to our accommodation for some much needed rest!
Look out for day 3, where we explored the islands off of Venice.