Venice is one of my favourite cities, so when Joelle said she wanted a group to go on a trip there, I said yes quicker than a summer in England.
Up early, far before you can even say the word bright I hopped in the car, picked up my two gal pals and swooshed our way to Stansted airport – & by swoosh I of course mean make it as far as Junction 25 of the M25 before having to take the back roads due to diversions. Fear not, we were early so still made it with plenty of time for our flight to the city on water.
We took off oooed and aaaed over clouds, mountains and everything our little port hole of a window had to offer before touching down in cute little Treviso airport.
Ryanair offer a deal on buses that saves you €2 than buying them at on the bus to Venice, not much, but every little helps and all that!
I love whirling through the countryside and outer towns and villages, so the bus to Venice was a right treat to stare out and window shop my dream Italian mansion complete with stunning frescos and shutters.
We arrived in Venice and it wasn’t exactly breath taking, it was a rather eerily foggy morning. Laura our Air bnb host met us and we made our way into Dorsoduro.
Here we were with Venice before us, so I’ll give you a quick summary of the best bits so you can skip my waffling!
Where to eat
Our first port of call was of course food.
We were after something quick and cheap on the way to rialto market, spotted Gelateria Millecoglie and grabbed a Pizza slice each, the size of our heads! The chaps behind the counter are super lovely and helpful. Plus as the name suggests, they sell gelato too and are more than happy for you to try all the flavours before you buy. A little customer service goes a long way. All the thumbs up from me!
If you’re in an Air bn’b like we were and fancy saving some money but still feel uber chic and Italian, I highly recommend visiting Rialto market! The food bit is in behind Banco Giro, & it’s open everyday of the week with fruit & veg, the fish market part is open everyday apart from Monday’s. You can rest assured it’s all local, fresh and seasonal, pick up some cheese, meats and pastas from the surrounding shops and more permanent stalls and you have yourself a meal! (If you’re more after breakfast essentials the supermarkets in the squares of dorsoduro will be better suited, but the people aren’t as helpful or friendly).
Whilst we were here we had to have ciccheti a typical Italian fare, tapas style small plates and a aperetif or glass of wine. Why hello there sophistication, how you doin’? Our host was fantastic at recommending places, we went for El Sbarlefo San Pantalon as the menu choices and drinks suited us the best – have their cocktail which I can’t remember the name of but definitely had Nocino in – a cinnamon and ginger spiced liqeur, topped with prosseco, perfeto. But Estro & Adriatico Mar also came highly recommended and a meander down Fondementa Meisericordia can bring a great variety of la dolce vita in the form of wine bars and foodie delights.
We were also keen to have a real Italian breakfast of coffee and something sweet. Just round the corner from that great little takeaway pizza I told you about is Bottega del Caffè Dersut, great coffee, with some real fun twists, fantastic pastries, a cosy seating area and lots of space to drink and go at the counter.
From previous visits to Venice there’s been some great restaurants that I couldn’t just leave out!
La Madonna is one. A restaurant famous to Venetians and visitors alike for their delicious seafood. It’s hidden down a little alleyway with a luminous yellow sign to guide you to its whereabouts. Booking ahead or going early is best to grab a seat in this buzzy little place.
For lunch not too far from the hustle and bustle La Zuccha is great. It’s hand painted sign charms you as soon as you walk by and the food certainly won’t disappoint. Prices are good and the food is fabulous. Expect traditional Venetian fare and an great variety of vegetarian options. If the weather allows you, bagsie a seat outside and enjoy canal life as you tuck in.
Patrick and I had our best meal in Venice at Ristorante La Piscina along the waterfront of Guidecca. Drink in the view – and the wine – of glistening lights dancing across the water from their table filled jetty. Their rather fancy, but still not ridiculously pricey, great for a treat night with a glamorous backdrop and delicious food.
What to do
Now believe it or not, but there is so much more to Venice than st Marks square, but it’s a ruddy good place to start.
We got an amazing deal through viator for only £37.00 pp, including a gondola ride and a tour of St Marks Bascillica, skipping the queues and getting an insight into the intricate details and meaning behind it. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside the Bascillica itself, but its ornately decorated with gold leaf in mosaics of the new testament stories and marble below and then golden alter is breathtaking bejewelled and dripping in gold.
The gondola ride is 30 minutes long, taking you through some small canals onto the grande canal surfing the waves and worming your way back to Campo San Moise (check out the deal here).
Take a boat over to Murano & Burano
Make your way up to Fondamente Nove to catch a boat over to Murano & Burano.
We stopped off at Murano first, the glass making island. Although glass used to be made in the centre of Venice, in 1291 it was moved onto Murano for fear of fire and now Murano is a world reknowned quality glass producing island. Also a great place to stop for lunch before going onto Burano – Murano has a lot more choice, not quite as tourist focused, although come on, they ain’t stupid, but it’s not as secluded as Burano’s expensive, touristy restaurants.
Burano is the colourful island, where lace is their trade. Around every corner is a photo opportunity and so much home inspo. Who could be sad in such a colourful place?!
I later found out the houses were painted bright colours so fishermen could find their way back even in the thickest if fog. Now the governing body of Burano insist that you use a colour from their pallet, keeping those stunning brights alive!
Explore the squares of Dursodoro
We stayed in dursodoro, so we got to see the Venetian Venice, like the best little wine bar. Take a plastic bottle and they’ll fill it with wine for very reasonable prices. We got 1.5 litres of local prossecco for 3 Euros!
But it’s not just great for the wine, but seeing great little bakerys – cannoli, get cannoli – cafes, food markets, but also people watching those chic Italians.
But let’s get back to the wine a little shall we? Dursoduro is a great place to go out amongst venetians, mainly student scene, so lots of cheaper bars, but really fun and the night life has a real buzz about it. Here we sat and learnt about art from an artist, the differences of Venetian accents from Venetians and most importantly that amaretto and lemon soda is fantastic combination. If those aren’t reasons enough to twirl about this bohemian square, I don’t know what is (other than their fab little gelateria next to the orange bar).
Visit the churches
Churches are the thing I love most about Italy, their grandeur. San Giorgio is beautiful, catch the boat over, get the lift up to the top of the bell tower and get gorgeous views over Venice. Peer right down onto St Marks Square and get your bearing of this fish shaped island.
Not only is it much cheaper than the bell tower of St Mark’s square, it’s got a much shorter queue (if any) and in my opinion a much better view.
Bascillica Santa Maria della Salute, is the curvaceous lady that waves you into the grand canal from St Marks square. She stands tall and bountiful and is just as impressive and imposing inside as she is out. However, she as built in rather unforgiving circumstances, due to the plague claiming nearly a third of Venice’s population this cathedral was dedicated to Our Lady of Health as an offerinf for the cities deliverance from the plague.
My personal favourite though is known as the jewellery box and with good reason. Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli, a marble clad beauty glimmering beside a canal, standing tall and calmly in it’s pastel hues.
If you’re there in the Summer the lido is great to visit to have a dip in the sea. It’s funny being in a city surrounded by water, it makes you want to swim. But you don’t really swim in Venice, unless you’re near a pool, so hop on a boat to the lido and go to the beach!