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Venice | The City of Bridges in 3 days


Ah Venice, where do we begin… founded in the year 421, Venice historically has been in a position of being an important center of commerce as well as artistic movements such as the Renaissance period. Tourism in the past were comprised of rich Aristocrats. With tourism becoming more accessible to the general public with budget airlines and airbnb, it is now within anyone’s reach.

There’s been projections about how the city would sink in the next 100 years due to rising sea levels. At the same time, over 20 million people visit Venice each year. With just 55,000 residents living in Venice’s historic center (versus 60,000 tourists a day), that’s a whopping ratio. Cruise ships have been banned on the canals of Venice, and there are also talks of limiting the number of tourists.

Me being me, tuning out almost all news nowadays (most news are just outright sad, overly incorrect, overly PC, overly everything. And you can only voice your opinion if it is in line with who you’re speaking to, or there’s a nasty argument. Everything is an extreme these days. Sorry for the long rant), I had not heard about Venice being trampled by tourists, the protests, or the talk to limit tourists. I wanted to go because I haven’t been to Italy yet, I always get precious if somehow I will miss a chance to do something forever, so it was plotted on my itinerary without much thought.

To be honest though, I think I’ve done a fair job of not contributing the tourist problem even though I was there. Each day I woke at 4:30am to catch sunrise and proceeded back to my hotel by 10am to avoid the crowds. I’d have my meals at my hotels, or get takeaway pizza. I’d venture out near sunset after 7pm so it has cooled off, and the tourists during the day have been worn down by the mass crowds and heat, and I’ll head to dinner again at another tourist aimed establishment (another hotel restaurant basically).

In the early mornings before 7am, that’s when you catch the canals empty, other than delivery boats, full of food, drinks, and even DHL on a boat. There’s very few people on the streets so you can actually enjoy Rialto Bridge and Bridge of Sighs in peace.

So, what is there to do in Venice, to make the most out of your trip?

Get a Venezia Hat
This is the best thing to get to both keep you out of the sun and have a beautiful prop for your photos! (Especially those backsies). You can get these at San Marco square easily and there are many colors to choose from!

 

Stay here: Hotel Danieli
This is one of the top luxury hotels in Venice, remodeled from a palace formerly named Palazzo Dandolo. Many famous artists, writers, musicians have stayed there, such as Goethe, Charles Dickens, Harrison Ford etc. In 2010, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie filmed The Tourist inside the Danieli. What I love about this hotel:
  • It is part of the SPG hotel group, meaning if you are Platinum member, you can apply for a free Suite upgrade as long as there is availability. If you don't apply for suite night, and just check in, they will upgrade you to the highest class of available rooms. 
  • Location: it is next to the Bridge of Sighs, around the corner from San Marco square, and right on the water. How much better can it get?
  • Suite Balcony: the suites have balconies facing the water where you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine after dinner. 
  • Rooftop dining: they also have a rooftop where breakfast is served everyday, and you can also have lunch and dinner there. The view is just amazing from here.
 

Eat here: Club del Doge (Gritti Palace)
The Gritti Palace is another luxury hotel further down the canal, and they have a restaurant and bar right on the water. The restuarant - Club del Doge is where I celebrated my birthday, and wow the food was amazing. I had a carpaccio with 3 types of fish to start (Row fish Trio Plate), Lamb Loin, and a Birthday cake for dessert. I have no idea what was in the cake but it tasted like heaven. 



Go here between 5am – 7am:
As I said, Venice is a highly touristic place, and the San Marco area has 60,000 tourists visiting each day. Most tourists will start the day around 9 or 10am, so by 10am, the streets of Venice is already absolutely covered with tourists. This lasts all the way until around 5 or 6pm when people are worn out and the crowds start dying down. It is impossible to get a photo in certain places (if you want to be in the photo that is), when 60,000 others are trying as well, so these are places to go early as soon as the sun is up:

    1. San Marco Square
    2. Bridge of Sighs
    3. Rialto Bridge & The Grand Canal

San Marco Square

  

Bridge of Sighs

 

Rialto Bridge & the Grand Canal


 

For an amazing view: DFS Rooftop & Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
     1. DFS Rooftop - Grand Canal View
The open roof terrace in DFS is a very popular spot to get photos of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. You can book a free 15 min time slot in advance to cut the line on their website here.


     2. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo - rooftop view of San Marco 
This is another iconic place to get some photos of the rooftops of the city. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is a small palace in the heart o fSan Marco. The multi-arch round staircase brings you up to an impressive view. The name itself literally means "of the snail", with the swirls of the tower I can totally see why. This place opens at 10am, and there are regularly tours which pass by, so get there just before 10am to get in first and avoid the crowds. 

 


Take a Gondola Ride (and get a bouquet of roses for only 12 euros from Fioreria A. Balda)
 You can't go to Venice and not experience a gondola ride, you just can't. You don't have to be dressed fancy or anything, even this group ladies who were supporting their country in football (Colombian) hopped on a ride, proud with their flag! So how do you get a Gondola ride?
  • Booking in advance? No, there is no need. Booking in advance is always so expensive, the flat rate is 80 Euro per boat. If they try to charge you per person, say no thank you. 
  • Pricing: it is a flat rate of 80 Euros per boat for 30-40min or 160 Euros per boat for a full hour tour 
  • Night rates: after 7pm it is 100 Euros per boat
  • Routes: depending on where you depart from, the routes will be different, make sure you confirm with the driver before you get disappointed with no Rialto bridge in sight. Some rides don't go on the Grand Canal. 
  • Pick up spots: the major canals will have Gondolas, or alternatively my favorite starting point was the one just North of San Marco square. 
  • How many people: up to 6 (assuming you didn't rent someone to sing and play the accordion)
 

  

I also got some beautiful pink roses for just 12 Euros since it was my birthday. The florit - Fioreria A. Balda is on the East side of San Marco and they have a wide range of flowers there to pick from. Considering how expensive everything else is in Venice, 12 Euros for roses is a steal! 

Visit the extravagant La Fenice Opera House
Opened in 1792, La Fenice is the most famougs and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre. Many opera pieces from famous composers such as Rossini, Bellini, and Verdi were premiered here. In 1836, the theater was destroyed by fire but soon reopened on boxing day eve of the following year. In 1996, a devastating fire destroyed the theater and it took 7 years to finish rebuilding and cost 90 million Euros. The extravagance of this hotel cannot be conveyed by photo. Standing there in person, there's an overwhelming amount of detail surrounding you. 

 

Have an Ice Cream at SUSO
SUSO Gelatoteca is one of those places where, if someone is having a Gelato in Venice and post it on Instagram, it's from Suso. It is just near the Rialto bridge. If you are aiming for an instagram shot, keep in mind of what color you're looking for, and also figure out a bridge nearby you want to take a photo from in advance before you start panicking with a melting cone of ice cream. 

 

Learn about the history: Palazzo Ducal
Palazzo Ducale, or the Doge's palace, is the residence of the Doge of Venice who is the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. It was built in 1340 and opened as a museum in 1923. Each year, over 1.3 million visitors visit this palace. Many great Venetian architects worked on this iconic Gothic Venetian palace as well as paintings on the elaborate interior walls and ceilings. Inside the Palace, you walk through various rooms which were the Doge's apartments (rooms to receive guests, to relax with a fireplace, a room called Philosopher's room where meetings of the Senate and Great council were held etc). There are also institutional chambers for weddings, collection of art and gifts from overseas. And underground are the prison cells. 

Lines can be really long here, get there before 10am and have a ticket purchased in advance to skip the line. 

 

Having pizza on the ledge by the Canal
I've seen this shot over and over again amongst other instagrammers. Some claim they have "stumbled upon this place", Trust me this is not a place you stumble upon. It took me a while to find this place, only from the pattern of the bridge, the name of a nearby cafe that another instagrammer had passed by, and with a lot of getting lost in the alley ways. 

Also, if you want a pizza, you'll have to count a place out beforehand that will do takeaway. As for Wine? I didn't bother since I had so many shots with wine in my hand already, I got a beer instead! 

I will share with you the exact location of the ledge in my next blog post. 



Some more photos from Venice:





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