Going it alone in Venice
W e enjoyed our short stay in the floating city of Venice, the final disembarkation port for our Grand Mediterranean cruise. Soaking up the charm, we explored the area walking through the tiny laneways and charismatic squares, crossing bridges over the canals. Venice itself is vehicle free. Beyond Mestre on the other side of the causeway is Piazzale Roma. Located there is a bus terminus and turn-around spot, because this is the only part of Venice accessible by car. There are no cars allowed in Venice at all. No cars or roads, just canals winding through the city and boats, gondolas and vaparetto are the mode of transport.
After we arrived we abandoned an itinerary in favour of aimless walking. We decided going it alone in Venice was the best way to get the feel of a city, strolling alongside the Venetian canals. We made our way to Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s Square and soaked up the charm of this city, wandering through the picturesque alleyways.
A short walk from the heart of Venice we found a lovely place for a meal just behind St Mark’s. We saw Trattoria Ai Leoncini had a set menu for a fixed price, crisp white tablecloths and what looked like a relaxing atmosphere is a surprisingly quite location so we went inside. Not only was it relaxing and comfortable but the food was authentic and delicious. We had Spaghetti Alle Vongole (clams), Calamari Fritti and were delighted with Profiteroles for dessert.
We enjoyed walking in the atmospheric neighbourhoods of the city, across countless bridges and quiet piazzas but after our satisfying meal opted to take to the water. Not for the classic Venetian gondola ride, but a Vaporetto ride to explore the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is the main ‘street’ of Venice. No amount of reading could prepare us for the beauty of this city’s main waterway. Our 20 minute journey took us some 4 kilometres down this splendid thoroughfare as we pass palaces, churches and bridges. To take the weight off our feet and relax on a Vaporetto and ride along the Grand Canal is something I will never forget. Venice is a great place to wander and everywhere we looked we were met with a lovely view. We enjoyed riding on the Vaporetto so couldn’t resist a visit to the lovely island of beautiful Burano on a Vaporetto to explore the area at our leisure
Venice is a truly unique city, who would have ever thought that this city in the marshy lagoon of the Adriatic sea was built on a foundation of wood? True, its buildings were built on vertical wood pilings from Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The timbers don’t rot, but petrify in the mineral rich waters. The ground floors of countless buildings get flooded with the rising waters of aqua alta or rising sea level caused by climate change. The aging effect on these buildings is from the waters reaching the porous bricks and the capillary action pulling waters up, eroding the walls and marble.
Our impression of Venice was that of a living museum, the treasures of brick and stone buildings rising out of the water along the canals narrow, maze-like streets. It was like something straight from a postcard, resplendent aging buildings, faded and weathered with elegant decay from the rising waters.
Venice is such a treasure trove to explore and simply be. Have you been there? How did you spend your time?
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