By Judy Berman
At times, the Grand Canal in Venice looks like a typical congested interstate highway.
Vaporettos (water buses) – Venice’s public transit system, gondolas and water taxis all jockey for position to and from the island.
After dodging Vespas and Smart Cars in Rome, it is a relief to go on shore to a car-less destination.
Our overnight stay at Hotel Ai Do Mori was just minutes from St. Mark’s Square, and our room had a view of the street and the bell tower. Except for the church bell ringing early the next morning, we didn’t hear any of the street noise while we were in our rooms. Lovely.
We got around the city “streets” on foot via narrow pedestrian walkways and bridges. Right after we checked in, we went out for lunch. Then, we were in search of a gondola ride.
We passed street vendors hawking their wares.
Suddenly, a vendor ran past us, talking excitedly on his cell phone. Apparently, he was alerting the other vendors that police were patrolling the area.
One vendor hid behind a cart near us and watched as police entered and then left the square. Within minutes, all vendors were back, and it was business as usual.
There were several gondoliers hanging out by the docks. We hopped aboard along with our youngest daughter and her husband. Our oldest daughter, her husband and their two children rode in a separate gondola.
During the day, a 40-minute ride cost 80 euros. You could divide the cost with another willing couple if you’re on your own. The ride is more scenic and romantic at night, but the price jumps to 100 euro.
Singing and music would be extra. Please ask for a Venetian song. Rick Steves’ Venice guidebook suggests “Venezia La Luna e Tu” (Venice, the moon and you)
“Asking to hear “O Sole Mio” (which comes from Naples) is like asking a Chicago lounge singer to sing “Swanee River,” Steves jokes.
Here’s some sights we saw on shore and off:
Gondoliers navigate their boats on the Grand Canal. A vaporetto (water bus) – Venice’s public transit system – is in the background.
St. Mark’s Square – Music, tourists and pigeons fill the square. St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) was built in the 11th century, replacing an earlier church. The saint’s bones have been buried here since about 830 A.D..
A delightful surprise – either a shop or a restaurant – can be found just around any corner on the narrow “streets.”
A close-up of the restaurant’s display window.
A gondola glides under one of the many bridges on one of the quieter, small canals. Our guide pointed out many interesting and historic sites along the way.
As there are no cars on Venice streets, produce and products are hauled on carts from the boats to the stores and restaurants. Early this particular morning, we saw one shop-keeper wash down the street in front of her business.
Buon viaggio! Happy travels!
Travel tip suggestions:
We took a train from Rome to Venice – about a four-hour ride. Seats fill up quickly. So it’s a good idea to reserve them ahead of time. We did so before we left the States.
Gondola rides: Rick Steves says prices are standard and listed on the gondoliers’ association website at www.gondolavenezia.it
Is Venice on your list of travel destinations? If not, where would you like to go?
All photos were taken by me (Judy Berman) during June in Venice. The main photo is of nightlife along the Grand Canal in Venice.
If you wish to borrow any of my photos or my post, please ask first. See copyright on About page and on the side.