Venice has to be one of my favourite destinations and on this occasion, I decided to drive there. Arriving via France, Belgium and Switzerland, the trip took the best part of two days. The drive was amazing, there is something about traversing the Alps and witnessing the panoramic views, that just touch the soul, and the 17 km of the Gotthard tunnel is truly an engineering marvel to behold. I have certainly put Switzerland on my list of places to explore in the future.
I resisted the urge to stay near Mestre, which, after such a long drive was tempting. Instead, I opted for Punta Sabbioni, on the other side of the lagoon. To the consternation of my travelling companion (it’s also a hard journey for the passenger). I choose this destination because it was near the ferry to Venice and its islands, and the proximity to the beach. A two day ferry pass costs a reasonable €30, which was great value, as I intended to visit both Murano and Burano. As with most places at this time of the year, I didn’t need to reserve a pitch, due to the abundance of campsites and Aires.
There are only really two ways to explore Venice, by Vaporetto and a piedi. The Vaporettos are a great way to explore Venice, particularly the Grand Canal. It’s not possible to walk along the Grand Canal for any distance, so they are ideal if you want to view the impressive facades of the palaces, although the somewhat decaying fronts of some buildings remind us that not so long ago Venice was a very different place.
Aside from Vaporettos, one can take a Gondola ride, but at €80 for 40 minutes, it is not cheap, but what visit to Venice could ever be considered complete without going in a Gondola. At several points along the Grand Canal, there are Gondola ferries, for a reasonable €1, one can sample a brief dash across it, but blink and you will miss it.
The best way to experience Venice, is to stroll along the different quarters. There is so much to see that I could not list everything here, but I would suggest: the shopping district of Rialto, especially the bridge and the Strada Nova across the Grand Canal is worth a view. I found the shops selling papier mâché masks fascinating, so much so, one adorns my living room. The piazza’s and narrow streets of San Marco and Castello portray romantic images and one can image the Balls of 18th-century hedonistic Venice. Visiting Venice during February’s annual carnival, would provide a wonderful experience of the costumes and masks adorned by the participants.
Piazza San Marco with its Campanile and the Doge’s Palace is a must see, but early viewing is recommended. Not forgetting the bridge of Sighs, that links the Doge’s palace with the prison. But don’t take my word for it, go and experience it for yourself. I’ll leave you with some images of Venice, that will hopefully whet your appetite to visit this wonderful city.
A visit to Murano is a must, if time allows. Once famous for its glass, this is much in evidence with the sheer number of shops selling glass ornaments and figurines.
It’s certainly worth strolling around the shop lined canals of Murano, watching local children dive bomb off bridges, to the delight of the tourists. There is a different feel to Venice, it feels like a community exists here.
Burano is smaller than Murano, but in my opinion much prettier. It is famous for its lace, but recognised for its colourful buildings. It doesn’t take long to walk the few streets, but take your time and enjoy a quiet lunch whilst soaking in the atmosphere.
As my trip to Venice comes to a close, I’m reminded of the memories it has given me, they will surely stay with me for a lifetime. If you have never been, what are you waiting for?