Venice in a day
One day tour discovering this amazing city!
by Anna, Klaudia & Patryk.
What is slower than visiting Venice, the city where you can only walk, or, at most, take a boat? We have decided to have a one day tour in this amazing city, enjoying its way of life, its food and the many draws you can find here.
Still in the train, we notice we are approaching Venice when the lagoon appears on the horizon. We are on the Ponte della Libertà (Freedom Bridge), in some minutes we are there!
Venice Santa Lucia train station welcomes us with a jaw-dropping view of the Grand Canal and we immediately have the feeling that we are in some place far away from Italy, from everything we know…
Expecting a long walking we decide to recharge our batteries in a very Venetian way, that is at a local bacareto. In Campo dei Tolentini there is this sort of small bar that sells glasses of wine and sandwiches for few euros. There are no seats, just two barrels that serve as tables outside. Never mind, the campo is almost empty, we can seat on the stairs or on the bank and enjoy the view and the sun.
Ready to go, we realize that directions are not going to be a problem, we just have to follow the crowd. And pretty soon we start seeing signs on the walls that say ‘Rialto’ and ‘San Marco’. Now the calli (Venetian for this kind of streets) are getting very narrow. But we are not afraid of getting lost in a city surrounded by water… On the contrary, the chance to lose the way in this wonderful maze is fascinating. This city that emerged from the water is really magic!
The street that leads to the Rialto Bridge is crowded with stalls and shops that sell everything, from souvenirs and clothing to food and drink. They are so colorful and picturesque that I wish I could buy everything. We realize we have reached the Rialto Bridge earlier than expected. The view is amazing either you look at the bridge from the bank or you look at the Grand Canal from the bridge. And finally there they are: the gondoliers of Venice!
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest one among the four bridges that span the canal. It consists of an inner staircase, which houses several shops, and two panoramic staircases on both the outer sides. The Grand Canal makes a large S shape dividing the city into two parts. In fact six districts (called sestieri) form Venice.
Once we have bridged Rialto we continue on the crowded calli following the sign ‘San Marco’. On these very narrow calli it feels like we are taking part in a procession. As if we were one single stream and we were going to flow into a huge space, St. Mark’s Square.
St. Mark’s Square is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world for a reason. It is simply breath-taking. The architectures match perfectly with each other, despite the difference in style. We cannot help but wander across the square admiring every inch of it, wondering about its history. We are at the very heart of this gigantic fish. Indeed St. Mark’s Square has always been the political, social and religious centre of the city. Perhaps it was Napoleon himself who called it “the drawing room of Europe”.
A long queue is waiting at the entrance of the Saint Mark’s Basilica. Never mind, while waiting we can admire the buildings around us. We notice immediately the two colums carrying the statues of Saint Theodore and a winged lion, symbols of Venice. On the left side of them we can admire the magnificent Doge’s Palace, and in front of it there is Sansovino’s Library. But the building that catches our attention is the Campanile, the 98 meters tower that stands out in the square. It has been restorated several times and it even collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century (the only victim was a cat!).
Finally we enter the Basilica, surely the main draw of Venice. It derives its name from the patron of the city, Saint Mark, and still keeps his remains. The atmosphere inside is not as you expect it. In the half-light the golden mosaics are even more fascinating and walking on an uneven floor makes me realize the historical value of the church I am visiting. The wait was definetely worth it.
After visiting the Basilica we want to explore the shops hidden under those beautiful porticos. And starting to get hungry, we head toward a delicious Takeaway Pasta, just 5 minutes far from the Basilica.
The gondolas on the canal are very tempting now, so we have this crazy idea to take one to reach the Santa Maria della Salute (Saint Mary of Health) Church. The building, facing the Grand Canal, is very impressive. The church was built as a votive offering when Venice was freed from the plague in the 17th century. We learn that every year in November Venetian people still celebrate their Lady of Health here.
Our tour is ending, so heading back to the train station we stop just for a glass of spritz and a tramezzino (a local kind of sandwich), the perfect combination for a very Venetian aperitif, in Campo Santa Margherita.
Leaving this city we feel we have lived something magic, something you can find nowhere else.
Cover pic courtesy of Flickr User worldaroundtrip