Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Venice, Italy

We love the Mediterranean. We love the food, the weather, the lifestyle, and the people, pretty much everything about it. So every other year we would take a two-week vacation in the area, usually in early June before the temperature soars and the cities are packed with tourists. 

This year we started from Venice, then worked our way along the Adriatic and Aegean coasts. Venice is busy anytime of the year. As much as it's a very photogenic city, it's also small and very touristy. So we sampled a few key points of interest that are considered as must-sees, then quickly made our way out of the main Venice island to other smaller surrounding islands, where I believe you would get the best Venice experience. 

While in Venice, I would suggest spending a couple of hours at the Caffe Florian right on the Piazza San Marco people-watching. We took our afternoon breaks there, and I loved their food and desserts. Note you would be paying for the live music (they spelled that out in your bill) but it's totally worthwhile. We found a little bit downtime there from all the bustling scenes. 

Piazza San Marco at dusk, the best time to take pictures of the square in my opinion. 

We also lined up to climb the Campanile (bell tower) at Piazza San Marco for a panoramic view of the city.  

This is the view of the San Giorgio Maggiore Island from the Campanile. 

Another unique and interesting spot I would suggest you see inside Venice is the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, a small palace well-known for its external spiral staircase. It's not as grandeur and intricate as the Palazzo Ducale; rather, it has a more rustic mixture of the Renaissance, Venetian Gothic and Byzantine styles. Getting there was very challenging as you could easily miss the turn (and multiple times) into the narrow alleyway where the palace is, but once you get there you'd totally love it. 

Of course you can't miss the Bridge of Sighs. We walked by the iconic Rialto Bridge so many times but I never had the urge to take pictures of it. 

If we have 2-3 hours to spare, I would strongly recommend the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery. You are going to find a lot more amazing shots of the Grand Canal en route to the museum. 

This was our Grand Canal view from the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery. 

Cafe inside the gallery. 

The famous Marini’s “Angel of The City” sculpture by the gallery entrance in front of the elaborate wrought iron gates. 

As I mentioned earlier in the post, we preferred to spend more time outside of the main city, so we took day trips to the Island of Murano and Burano. 

The Simone Cenedese 'Comet Glass Star' sculpture.

When we were in Murano, we took our time strolling down the boutique-lined streets. The most coveted Murano chandelier lights are everywhere but having them shipped all the way back to North America can be a daunting task. Most of these boutiques would charge an arm and a leg for shipping, insurance and broker fees, which makes you wonder whether it makes more sense to try our luck on local classified or at consignment stores instead. 

You can't miss the colourful homes-lined Burano island. 

Each house is painted in a different colour which needs to be approved by the municipal government. No two houses in a row should be painted in the same colour. 

I will be back to write about our next stop which was my favourite from this trip, Dubrovnik, Croatia. 

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