What a difference from Prague! Leaving the Venice Airport, I immediately felt the sea breeze in my hair and Italian sun on my skin. My friends and I were already pleased to be Venice, and we hadn’t even gotten into town.
Getting to town, though, was not at all enjoyable. From the mainland of the Provence of Venice to the town center of San Marco, where my friends and I were staying, we took a 15€ one-way waterbus, a popular choice from the airport. Maybe it was because we were tired, and hungry, and anxious to see Venice, but this boat ride was miserable. The waterbus glided by at a little over 5 mph, so the entire trip took a very slow, very long hour. Additionally, we sat in the bottom of the boat, so we were unable to watch the journey, obscured by opaque, ocean-sprayed windows.
When we finally arrived at the Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, we were all reminded of Plaza Mayor back in Madrid. The two areas are similar, large squares lined with countless cafés and shops. Piazza San Marco, however, is also home to a cathedral tower, the Campanile di San Marco, a clock tower, the Torre dell’Orologio, and the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica.
Albergo San Marco
Not far from St. Mark’s Square we found our hotel, Albergo San Marco. Because we were only spending one night in Venice, we wanted to stay as close to the central sights as possible to use our time efficiently and save money on transportation. Our family-style room had two bedrooms and a spacious bathroom, the most expensive and most luxurious lodging of our trip. The staff was only average, especially compared to the hospitable Czechs, but the included breakfast was plentiful and convenient.
With such a short time in Venice, my friends and I made sure to explore as much as we could, day and night.
The next morning, we waited in line to enter St. Mark’s Basilica. Of all of the religious buildings that I’ve seen in Europe thus far (and I’ve seen a lot), this was the most impressive. We wanted to go up the cathedral tower, but did not have the time, because we had pre-booked a gondola ride (via viator.com) for that morning.
My friends and I were excited yet skeptical of the gondola cliché, but it was worth it. The boat brought us through the narrow canals of Venice inaccessible by foot, and around the open areas of the Grand Canal that winds through the city. If you have free time on a beautiful, sunny day, a gondola ride is the perfect way to explore and enjoy Venice.
The final stop on our Venetian vacation was Antico Forno, a praised pizzeria not far from our hotel. Though the hours claim availability until 9:30 p.m., we stopped by on our first day in the city around 6 p.m. and found it closed. When we asked a neighboring shopkeeper if it would reopen later that night, she informed us that it was done for the day. Our second trip, made around noon, was successful, and we got good-but-not-great slices of Italy’s signature food. The pizza shop, or, more accurately, pizza window, had very limited seating and a demanding lunchtime crowd. With unclear hours and mediocre meals, only stop by Antico Forno if you are already in the area.
Visiting Venice is subtle experience, with few sights to see, but much to explore. A weekend would have been preferred to our few 24 hours! We got a small taste of life in Venice, but you cannot truly know a city, no matter how small, in such a short amount of time. Luckily, we would have a greater opportunity to enjoy our next destination.
- Piazza San Marco
- Piazza San Marco, Venezia, Italy
- Campanile di San Marco
- Piazza San Marco, 30124 Venezia, Italy
- Torre dell’Orologio
- Piazza San Marco, Venezia, Italy
- Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco
- San Marco, 328, Venezia, Italy
- Albergo San Marco
- S. Marco, 877, 30124 Venezia, Italy
- Antico Forno
- Ruga Ravano, 970/973, 30125 San Polo, Venezia VE, Italy
Pace, Amore, Venezia