We spent 3 days this July in Venice and I absolutely loved the city. Here is a quick trip report and some observations:
1. First of all, if you like me are going on your first trip to Venice and keep getting a bit confused why does everyone is suggesting you to get lost in Venice, don’t get too worked up because you would figure that out after spending a few days in Venice.
2. Venice is a walker’s delight, what would help is if you have a good map and may be some walking guide just to get an idea where in Venice you would like to get lost. We had an Insight Step-by-Step guide for Venice which had several walking routes and that helped us get a general idea of where we want to be and how to take some sights while just walking around but then Venice is not about sights and must-see etc, Venice is about the only city I know where I could have spent even more time with no particular agenda and trust me an mot those people who spend couple of weeks exploring just a city.
3. You could look at our general itinerary in my past posts. We were staying near Santa Maria del Giglio which was quite central and convenient to explore various areas. So on day 1, after we had arrived mid-day and had a quick lunch near hotel, we headed out to Dorsoduro via Accademia bridge. It was a very relaxed way of spending first afternoon in Venice as this part of the Venice is not generally busy and it actually has pretty good sights across the channel and those quaint lanes are quieter and I got a feeling a bit more greener. I would recommend this as a lazy afternoon stroll as we really enjoyed it.
4. Later on, we headed out to have dinner near Fenice Theatre, nice settings and food was fine. Then we headed to Piazza San Marco, and my memories of Piazza San Marco are all from this night as the place was not at all crowded but still vibrant, with music playing in some café, shopes still open but not crowded and generally a balmy weather. We spent couple of hours here after dinner and this was a great choice because if you choose to visit this area after 8 am then it may just remind of you a sea of people.
5. Next morning, we had an early start to Palazo Ducale and we hired audio guides to explore the area. Spent a really long time here and had to finally rush out to make it to our 11:45am Basillica di San Marco pre-booked slot. Palazo Ducale was an interesting choice and while I didn’t visit many other sights in Venice but if you have to pick one this could be a good choice. Can’t say the same about the Basillica di San Marco though, maybe all the grandness from Rome spoiled it for me but frankly I was not too impressed here even when we visited at afternoon when they illuminate the ceiling. Given the long queues outside for people who had not booked before, I would say I would have been very very disappointed if I had spent 2 hours queuing to get in when there is so much more to do in Venice. The other thing is the Piazza itself, it had turned into a really crowded place by the time we came out of the doge’s palace. All the quaintness of last night was all gone so I would avoid this place after 9am if I could.
6. This afternoon we headed to San Polo and San Croce area and had a lovely time walking around the small lanes the discovering squares and little shops etc. Nice area, good contracts from Dorsoduro walk of the previous day. We also visited Scoula Grande di San Rocco, a great place if you are interested in art. We again took audio guides for this place and they were quite useful. We spent a lot of time here and had a leisurely dinner before heading out to Rialto Bridge. Again this place looks lovely when it’s devoid of all the day trippers. We walked about here till quit late. Absolutely beautiful this night though we were to discover its other side the next day. Overall a good day.
7. Finally, on day 3 we had an afternoon train to catch to Switzerland and we so we started the morning by a visit to San Maggiore church and its campanile. I really liked the church, it had a quietness about it which I associate with a place of worship. Campaniles had nice views, I have nothing to compare it with so won’t use any exaggerations but we got lot of time and it was not overly busy. Again a recommend from me. Now we just had couple of hours to go and while I had planned to do a gondola ride after visit to the church but charm of Rialto Bridge from the last night made us change the plans (also got to do with little shopping we had done so far!!!) and we headed back to rialto bridge, but same story as piazza san marco, it was so busy that I could have mistaken it to be Delhi so bit of a letdown. So, ideally I would stay away from Rialto Bridge too from dawn to dusk and only venture here after that.
8. Overall, the best thing about Venice were the walks we had in Dorsoduro, San Polo, San Croce (and San Marco and Rialto after dusk) etc. It’s such a lovely city and definitely only one of its kind that if you visit here just for a day and that too only San Marco and Rialto only then you are doing a great injustice to yourself. Stay here. We spend about 2-3 days, this was the least one should spend here and ideally may be a day more.
Hope it’s of some use to future travelers. And wishing you all a lovely getting lost in Venice