Venice is often referred to as La Serenissima – the most serene – and is a City of enchanting beauty and fascination. Even if you are on a very low budget, you can have a wonderful time here.
How I got there
I found a bargain in the British Airways January sale – return flights from Gatwick and an overnight stay in a 3 star hotel for £121 (including the single supplement!) I had hoped (and booked) to stay in the Hotel Marconi on the Grand Canal by the Rialto bridge but arrived to find the previous occupant had been taken to hospital and had therefore not vacated his room (allegedly). I was therefore re-homed in a sister hotel, the Hotel San Moise, over in San Marco and despatched with a young member of hotel staff to carry my luggage on a route march in the rain across town to my new home. San Marco is the most expensive and the most touristy part of Venice and my least favourite. The hotel assumed I’d be pleased but as I was only there for one night and had paid so little, it seemed pointless to argue.
What I did
It was raining when I arrived and after taking the #1 vaporetto from Piazzale Roma to Rialto Mercati and finding my first hotel then marching across town to my final resting place, I was a bit hot and bothered! I had planned to race around like mad – ticking islands off my list – but the weather was not really very conducive to that and so I took it a bit easier and wondered aimlessly.
I decided to take advantage of the horrible weather (and therefore no queues) to go up the Campanile (the bell tower in St Mark’s Square). It was very windy at the top but well worth the €8 to go up and down in the the lift and the views from the top across the rooftops of Venice across the lagoon to other islands and to the snow-capped Dolomiti mountains is spectacular. The bells are interesting too! There is no glass at the top and the wind blows quite hard – avoid this if you have a problem with heights – you won’t like it!
I spent the afternoon looking around Isola San Giorgio Maggiore (see island #5).
The Rialto bridge is the most famous of Venice’s bridges but it is also home to the fish and vegetable markets where Venetians do their shopping. I took an early #1 vaporetto from San Marco to Rialto Mercati which drops you right by the markets and watched the early morning shoppers.
After the markets I walked along the Grand Canal, as far as it is possible to do, and enjoyed watching the action on the canal.
I stopped on the way for a glass of Frizzantino della Spina (fizzy wine on draft) and some arancini – balls of risotto rice, filled with ragu and deep fried in breadcrumbs – one of my favourite snacks (originally from Sicily I think). I took the vaporetto #4.1 from San Zaccaria to the island of Murano (see island #6)
When I arrived back from Murano, I disembarked at Fondamento Nove on the north side of Cannareggio and set google maps on my phone for my hotel in San Marco. I had a fantastic walk, got lost numerous times, saw familiar places and places I’d never seen before and the sun came out!! A wonderful walk through my favourite sestriere.
Sadly, it was now the end of my second day and time to head home so I collected my bag from the hotel and took #2 vaporetto via Giudecca to Zattere. By accident I walked past the gondola boatyard (I love gondolas so much that I decided to give them their own page – see Gondolas of Venice coming soon after island #6), I had my last glass of wine and last couple of cicchetti and wandered through the streets of Dorsoduro in the twilight until I arrived at San Samuele vaporetto stop for my journey back to Piazzale Roma and the airport bus. I had a lovely journey in the dark along the Grand Canal – it’s hard to take photos from a moving boat!
Next island: Staying in Venice, my next 2 island visits will be to the Isola San Giorgio Maggiore and Isola di Murano.