The Ultimate Venice Travel Guide
My Journey in Northern Italy
Venice is considered to be the “Queen of the Adriatic Sea”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City” and “City of Canals”. Not only was the city of Venice just magical, the lifestyle is what truly amazed me! The locals travel, commute and live their lives around the canals. To me, it seems like a very difficult lifestyle, but the Venetian people are all used to living this traditional way of life. That is one thing about old-world Europe that I truly love; you could still experience cultural traditions that you cannot find anywhere else.
In Spring 2018, I took a family vacation to Switzerland and Northern Italy with SitInMySeats Travel. Venice was one of the many cities that we visited and it was truly timeless. Enjoy reading about my few days in this wonderful city!
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We traveled to Venice via train through Rail Europe. The main train station in Venice is located right along the Grand Canal, so it is super easy to hop on a water taxi from there to your hotel. Thankfully, through SitInMySeats Travel, we had a private transfer waiting for us. I highly recommend everyone to book his or her own private transfer ahead of time, especially if you are hauling around a lot of luggage. It is so worth it! Our private transfer dropped us off right in front of our hotel.
When I first arrived in Venice, it was like all of those photographs from Google, paintings in my house and drawings from Italian restaurants came to life in front of me. I will admit that it was so surreal seeing the canals and Venetian Gothic architecture in person. I couldn’t wait to start exploring!
Through SitInMySeats Travel, we stayed at Palazzo Veneziano. This 4-star hotel offers a modern Venetian design with breathtaking views of the city, canals and so much more! My parents as well as my brothers and I got the Superior Double rooms that offered stunning views of the city. I loved how modern the rooms were! My brothers and I had an amazing bathroom with a great shower that lit up in different colors at night. We also had a loft-style room where there were stairs that led down to our beds. It was so awesome!
In addition to the hotel we stayed at during our time in Como, the Palazzo Veneziano also offered an amazing buffet breakfast in the morning and they also had a quaint courtyard where you could enjoy a refreshing aperitivo or a delicious pizza pie.
As I have mentioned in my blog post on both Como and Sicily, the food in Italy does not disappoint. Since Venice is surrounded by water all around, seafood is a popular staple in this city. In fact, seafood paired with different pastas and raviolis are dishes you will not have trouble finding in Venice!
During my travels, I have found that asking a local resident is definitely the best source to find great food! Since we weren’t given many restaurant recommendations from our friends who have been to Venice before, we asked the locals who had some amazing restaurant choices for us!
Here are some restaurants and dessert spots we enjoyed during our time in Venice:
Ristorante Diana: When we first arrived in Venice, we were somewhat in a rush to get to our Venetian Rowing Lession (I go more into this below), so we had to quickly find a place to eat near the area we were going to row. When we got to the information desk for the Venetian Rowing Lesson, the woman working there recommended a lovely restaurant alongside the canals. Ristorante Diana was one of the best places we ate at during our time in Italy. I got spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and it was amazing! Northern Italy isn’t known for having dishes with tomato sauce, so it was nice to change it up.
Ostaria al Vecio Pozzo: On our first evening in Venice, we all were craving pizza! We asked the woman who was working at the front desk of our hotel where her favorite pizza place was located in the city and she recommended Ostaria al Vecio Pozzo. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated inside which was so adorable. I felt like I was in an Italian fairytale cottage. For dinner, I ordered the Mediterranea Pizza with tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. It was amazing!
Ristorante Baccarandino ai Corazzieri: During our second day in Venice, we explored the nearby islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello (I will talk more about this excursion below). Unfortunately, during our tour, we didn’t have time to grab lunch at one of the islands, so when we went back to the main city of Venice, we found an amazing restaurant that was quietly hidden on a corner. This wonderful restaurant, called Ristorante Baccarandino ai Corazzieri was absolutely adorable and quaint. For lunch, I enjoyed delicious spaghetti with squid ink and fresh fish from the local Adriatic Sea.
Trattoria Agli Amici: During our last night in Venice, we made this mistake of not asking a local for a restaurant recommendation for dinner so we ended up stumbling upon Trattoria Agli Amici. I am going to be completely honest that this wasn’t my family’s favorite restaurant in Italy (yes, there are some restaurants in Italy that aren’t amazing). I will admit, however, that my dish was actually pretty good. I got seafood ravioli in a shrimp ragu. Even though the majority of my family members weren’t fans of their meals, I do recommend the dish I had if you decide to go to Trattoria Agli Amici during your time in Venice.
VizioVirtù Cioccolateria: Thankfully my good friend Courtney who studied abroad in Italy recommended a must-try chocolate shop in Venice. Since I am a huge chocolate lover, I just HAD to try this place! VizioVirtù Cioccolateria is located not too far from the famous Rialto Bridge, but I will admit that it is very hard to find since most smart phones do not navigate the narrow streets of Venice very well. When we finally arrived, we were in heaven. This place literally had some of the best chocolate I have ever eaten! Even though we picked up a lot of chocolate to snack on, I also enjoyed the best pistachio and dark chocolate gelato. It was out of this world!
Things to Do:
Venice is a gorgeous European city filled with charm. Prior to visiting this quaint city, many people have told me that Venice is overrated and I think that is mainly because there are a ton of tourists. Regardless of the crowds, I have to disagree with everyone who has told me that Venice is overrated. I may be biased because my ancestors are actually from Venice, but I found this city to be fascinating! Between the medieval architecture, water transportation, friendly people and great shopping, I loved Venice! Check out some things we saw and did during our two days in this city:
Venetian Rowing Lesson:
Instead of doing a traditional gondola ride, we opted to take the more active route and participate in our own rowing lesson! Through SitInMySeats Travel, we were able to personally row the canals of Venice through Row Venice. As a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of traditional Venetian culture, Row Venice’s employees consist of mainly all females creating the perfect experience for locals as well as visitors.
Our lesson started off with the introduction of the traditional batelina, which was once one of the most prolific craft in Venice. It is now rare, but the batelina is a great first-time rowing boat that is both stable and comfortable. After that, our awesome instructors let us all practice the basic stroke before taking off. When we finally took off, we all got to row along a wide and quiet canal, away from the main tourist areas. We all felt like true gondoliers! As we made our way around the canals, we even had the opportunity to row on the popular Grand Canal where there was more traffic. It was such an awesome experience that I recommend everyone to try it when they go to Venice!
Throughout my travels, I have found that Venice as well as Mykonos, Greece are two beautiful cities that are perfect to get lost in! As I strolled the streets of Venice, I fell in love with all of the charming bridges that connected each little island in the city along with the beautiful Gothic architecture. As I admired each building, I also noticed some Arabic touches to the architecture. It was so beautiful! One thing I learned during my time in the city is that the Venetian style originated in the 14th century with the confluence of Byzantine styles from Constantinople, Moorish influences from Al Andalus and early Gothic forms from the mainland of Italy.
Overall, Venice is a very romantic city! It is the perfect place to stroll around with a loved one and enjoy a comforting espresso, delicious gelato and savoring a heart-shaped pizza pie! Even though most of the city is crowded, there are plenty of areas you could find that are quiet.
Venice is also the perfect city to shop in! Near the Rialto Bridge, you could find a plethora of shops ranging from high-end designer boutiques to local Venetian stores. Even though I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of money during my time in Venice, I did enjoy thoroughly window-shopping!
Another perk to getting lost in Venice is finding some of the iconic spots. Even though it was an overcrowded area, I was so fascinated by the Rialto Bridge! Since I was so used to seeing and walking over the mini bridges throughout the city, it was so cool to see this massive one that has been around for centuries! In addition to the Rialto Bridge, it is also cool to see Saint Mark’s Basilica. Ps. Watch out for the pigeons!
Click here to discover more to do in Venice.
Island Tour of Murano, Burano and Torcello:
On our second day in Venice, we did a tour of the three islands off of the main city – Murano, Burano and Torcello. We did this tour with Very Viva Venice, but I will admit that I would have preferred to tour these three islands on my own because they were all so lovely and we were only given a certain time period before we moved onto the next island. We would have loved to spend more time in these quaint places, especially in Burano, so we definitely felt rushed on this tour! Our tour guide, on the other hand, was a great resource!
We traveled to each island via a ferry that the tour company provided for us. From the Grand Canal to our first stop in Murano was about a 30-minute ride. The other islands we visited on the tour were definitely closer to each other. I will admit though that the ferry ride was super relaxing!
The island of Murano is renowned for its tradition of glass making. This was the first stop on our tour and we were so lucky to have been able to see a glass making demonstration! I was so fascinated by the glassmith (or glassblower) as he had many talents and even put on a mini show for us. He made a gorgeous bowl as well as a cool giraffe! This is definitely something I recommend everyone to experience during their time in Venice.
After the glassmaking demonstration, we entered into a gift shop where we were able to purchase different glass items. Since we had a long flight home, we purchased small souvenirs that wouldn’t break on the plane. I got a glass globe as well as a gorgeous aqua blue glass bracelet!
Ah Burano, one of my favorite spots in Italy! Not only do I love this charming fisherman village because of its vibrant houses, beautiful culture and amazing lace shops; my ancestors are also from there! My nana’s parents (my great grandparents) came over to the United States from Burano. Just like how it was amazing visiting my pop’s parents’ village in Ragusa, Sicily last summer, it was just as exciting seeing another village that my roots came from!
Just like I mention above, I really wish I could’ve spent more time in Burano because I fell in love with everything about it. The little time that I had there was spent making sure that I took advantage of strolling the adorable streets, wandering through the gorgeous lace shops, touring the leaning church tower of San Martino and admiring the lively, but also quaint culture.
Since Burano is known for its lace making, the Museo del Merletto has exhibits on the development of lace production in the area. There are also numerous shops on the island that sell lace products like linens and clothing. I actually bought a gorgeous lace outfit from a local shop. I wore it during my day in Tuscany (blog to come) and received so many wonderful compliments on it!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to grab lunch in Burano, but many locals had told me that no matter where you go to eat there, you would not have a problem finding an amazing restaurant. Not only is the island known for its delicious seafood, but they also have amazing butter cookies called bussolai buranei. You could find these famous butter cookies on local street stands throughout the island.
The gorgeous island of Torcello is the most northerly island of the Venetian Lagoon. Most of Torcello is uninhabited and the dozen of people who live there mainly reside in farmhouses, whose only source of income is tourism.
There are a few restaurants on the island as well as several coffee and snack stands. One iconic landmark that you cannot miss as you walk towards the main square is the Devils Bridge. According to legend, this bridge was built in one night by the devil to win a bet. It’s always so crazy hearing these folkloric stories whenever I travel.
I thought Torcello was so beautiful! The entire island is surrounded with flowers, vineyards, gorgeous homes and even a beautiful church. The Church of Santa Fosca is so peaceful and gorgeous. In fact, it was one of the most beautiful small churches I’ve seen! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about my time in Venice! It is definitely a must-see when you visit Northern Italy! If you have any questions regarding my trip to Italy please feel free to email me at email@example.com, contact me via social media or leave a comment below.
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