Venice has a special place in my heart, not only because of how I instantly fell in love with the stunning architecture, postcard-worthy sights,
1. YOU CAN GET LOST…AND THAT’S A GOOD THING
You know how some people have “get lost in a foreign country” in their bucketlist? I’ve already crossed-out mine in Venice. This city is like a labyrinth of alleyways, paved sidewalks, and dead ends that are too confusing, it’s easy to get lost even with the help of Google Maps (which may or may not have happened to me…lol). The upside though, is that getting lost in Venice turned out to be not too bad after all. Trudging along the streets felt like a walking tour, and you’ll never run out of beautiful architecture to marvel at while you walk. Add that to the fact that I often do a lot of stops to take pictures, made getting lost in Venice feel like simply going on a creative photowalk. Come to think of it, if I didn’t get lost back then, I wouldn’t have discovered several of my favorite sights and spots!
2. IT’S A WALKABLE CITY (THERE ARE NO CARS IN VENICE)
Venice isn’t really as intimidating as it sounds. In fact, it’s only a small city, which can easily be navigated by walking. I noticed that aside from the water-taxis and gondolas which are primarily availed by tourists, walking seems to be the preferred way of locals for getting from one place to another. Technically, you cannot drive in Venice, but you can drive to Venice, but you have to leave your car in a garage or lot and proceed to enjoy the city of canals…car-free. The maze-like layout of the city gave me the feeling of going on an adventure. I had fun navigating through Google Maps and seeing so many canals breaking the pathways. My favorite part about walking in Venice though, is that every corner you to turn to is Instagram-worthy. It was like a whole city of backdrops back there!
3. THE FOOD IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING
No trip in Italy is complete without a gastronomic adventure. Be sure to have a taste of the Venetian and Italian specialties by eating like how the locals do. Must-trys would include risotto, pizza, pasta, gelato and coffee. Venetian cuisine is also particularly known for its seafood, so check out the seafood markets if you have time. To be honest, Venice can get pretty expensive if you go to the fancy restaurants, but if you just know where to look, there are also establishments that offer authentic Italian dishes at reasonable rates. I had to eat alone on most of my meals yet surprisingly; I didn’t feel lonely at all. In fact, I felt like I was having my very own Eat Pray Love moments during those meals. It was actually one of my favorite experiences during my trip!
I also joined a one-on-one tour with a local who showed me how to sip caffè like a local, taste traditional Venetian sweets, discover family-run bakeries that are loved by the locals, sample some of their famous tiramisu and explore the neighborhoods of Cannaregio and Castello. We ended the tour with some aperol spritz (a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif in Northeast Italy). You can book the tour here.
4. THE ICONIC GONDOLA RIDE
Getting on a Venetian gondola seems like a must when you visit Venice, Italy. Having been replicated by different establishments in different countries, a gondola ride in Venice is where it all started. I actually saved this for my last day in Venice. Not only because I wanted to save the best for last, but also I had to think about it hard because it was really expensive. It costs 80 euros (about 5,000+ pesos) for a 30-40 minute ride when I was there. To be frank, I was a little disappointed by the gondola ride. I envisioned my experience with an Italian guy wearing stripes and a hat singing opera songs. But then, maybe they only have that during summer? My gondolier was wearing a beanie and a puffer jacket lol. I tried to be optimistic dating the 30-40 minute ride, taking in everything I was seeing. Of course, I took tons of photos! In case you’re wondering, I set up my tripod in front of me and had my phone as a remote! Pretty pathetic if you ask me, I was the only one in the gondola! The rest were packed with couples snuggling, cuddling with each other. Haha!
5. THERE ARE OVER 400 BRIDGES IN VENICE
It’s not surprising to know that Venice has hundreds of bridges, given that it’s essentially a city built on top of water. These bridges range from those which are intricately designed tourist attractions, to those which are plainly built. The most popular ones include the Bridge of Sighs, the Academy Bridge, the Scalzi Bridge, and of course the iconic Rialto Bridge. The favorite among these bridges is often the Rialto bridge, primarily because it crosses over the Grand Canal. There are boutiques, fashion stores, and pastry shops near the area too!
6. GET POSCARD-WORTHY VIEWS FROM THE RIALTO BRIDGE
Speaking of the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto), the gorgeous view that I had when I went sight-seeing on this magnificent stone arch, is still freshly etched in my memory. I kid you not when I tell you that the beauty of the view is hard to describe, like it was taken straight out of a postcard or painting then magically brought to life. Built between 1588 and 151, this is one of the bridges that give you a good look at the Grand Canal, with an arch that’s high enough to allow the passage of even larger boats. It’s not that hard to find Rialto Bridge with the signs everywhere that guides you to its location. Take a look at these photos I took from the Railto Bridge! It was gloomy/rainy almost everyday during my stay, but on my last day in Venice, I witnessed the beauty of the city during the sunset. It was straight out of a painting!
7. DINE IN THE OLDEST CAFÉ IN VENICE
Allow me to be blunt and tell you right from the start that Café Florian is relatively expensive. However, you’ll get your money’s worth since dining in the oldest café in Venice is going to be worth every penny. Established in 1720, Café Florian has already become an icon on its own. It amazes me how it is the city’s oldest café and yet it’s still full of life. It amazes me as to how some of the original furniture are still in the café, even the cashier register! Their menu include cakes, coffee, pastries, even gourmet dishes with names I cannot pronounce haha! My personal favorite was the hot chocolate. It may hurt the wallet a bit but the moment I took a sip, I say it’s worth it! I met up with a Venetian photographer and had a wonderful conversation about the magical city.
8. YOU GET AROUND VENICE VIA A WATER BUS/TAXI
From the airport, I took an Alilaguna ferry to the city centre of Venice. To get to different parts of the city, you can opt to take a water taxi or a water bus! Even the police and ambulance are on boats! It’s fascinating, isn’t it? I got to experience taking a beautiful speedboat with spacious cabins, leathered seating, and my very own private chauffer to take you to your destination in style. It was like a scene from the movie, “The Tourist.” As expected, the rates can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re going to hire a private taxi all to yourself. Otherwise, the cheapest way is still via the Vaporetto water bus!
9. VENICE IS SHAPED BY A RICH HERITAGE
Going through the streets of Venice was like an experiential history lesson, especially when you take in the fact that these well-preserved walls and stone pavements have been witnesses to a lot of events in the past. It is a city rich in culture and history, and I admire at how they were able to preserve these despite the surge in tourism. You don’t have to go inside a museum to familiarize yourself with how Venice came to be. If you look and listen closely, its history is all around you – from the songs of the gondoliers, the carvings in the architecture, even in the daily way of life of the locals. However, I made sure to book a walking tour in Venice, just to get a deeper understanding about its history. I booked the tour via www.walksofitaly.com which cost me $77 (around 4,000+ pesos). We got to learn about the history of St. Mark’s Basilica, Terrance and Doge’s Palace! Don’t miss these historic landmarks when you visit Venice!
10. BREATHTAKING VIEWS
I can’t stress enough how breathtaking the scenery in Venice is. I have always imagined it to be cramped and crowded but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everywhere I look seemed to be a postcard-worthy shot, and even the hidden corners seem to be screaming to have their pictures taken. For the most stunning views, I would recommend a trip to St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Campanile (go up for a stunning view of the city), the Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. Get your camera ready but at the same time, try to take in the splendor of the views. None of the pictures I have taken can match the real beauty of actually seeing Venice in person.
There are lots of other reasons to love Venice other than the ten I mentioned above. It’s a city that’s traditional yet contemporary at the same time. There is truly nowhere on earth quite like it. If Venice isn’t in your list yet, I strongly recommend that you visit! Arrividerci!