When: June 2015
Hotel: Aries Hotel (Vicenza)
Why Venice: Venice would be the perfect way to end our Northern Italy road trip, and on a tight schedule, I knew that one day in Venezia would be more than enough for Karyn and I to walk around and enjoy the canals of the city. I had previously gone to Venice the year before when I had accompanied John on his work trip, so I knew that we could stay in Vicenza and take the train into Venice – a MUCH more economical option than actually staying in Venice, which is $$$$. Not to mention, this also enabled us to take a side trip to Nove, the amazing pottery mecca where Tiffany and Williams & Sonoma goods can be found at incredibly low prices. John joined us for this leg of the trip as it was a 3-day weekend at work and he had been wanting to go back to Nove as well. It was a win-win for all.
The Trip: Leaving Florence was just as hair-raising as driving into town – so needless to say, I was so happy when we reached the highway. Initially the plan was to stop and have lunch in Bologna (for bolognese!) but upon driving into town, both Karyn and I were a bit underwhelmed – Tuscany may have spoiled us. So instead, we drove straight to Vicenza. Vicenza is a 40-minute train ride from Venice, an hour from Verona and 30-minutes from Nove (which I previously wrote about here). In other words, it is the perfect base for exploring multiple towns!
Early the next day, we made our way via taxi to the Vicenza train station for our ride into Venice. Unless you’re on a cruise or splurging on a hotel in Venice, the smartest way to visit is to find a town outside and train it in. It cuts down on parking costs and headaches. Not to mention, the walking out of the Venice train station gives you an awesome first view of the Grand Canal!
Here’s the thing with Venice. You can plan and make an itinerary (and buy tickets if you have a museum you really want to visit), but I honestly think Venice is best explored by wandering. You will absolutely get lost at some point, but without a plan, you can wander or hop a boat to Murano or Burano (we ran out of time), but it really is the best way to enjoy Venice. (Which, by the way, does NOT smell as rumors would tell you and is absolutely not overrated. It is like a fairy tale or a movie set!)
When in Venice, riding a gondola is a must. But, if you pick it up in the wrong place, it can just seem way to touristy and not at all relaxing. Both time we have been in Venice, we have picked up a gondola away from the Grand Canal. It guaranteed no wait for a ride and we didn’t have to share the canals with swarms of other people (as is the case elsewhere). So I definitely recommend picking one up in a less busy area. The ride is going to be 80E, regardless of where you pick one up and how many people you have.
Post-gondola ride, we made our way in the same direction everyone goes – to the Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square, Each time I have been, the Rialto Bridge was so crowded it was more of a mad dash to get over and enjoy it from the other side than battle the crowds. We still did manage to get a couple of shots in and without crowds, you can tell this is a great place to enjoy the bustling Grand Canal.
Once you cross over the Rialto Bridge the crowds will exponentially get larger – this is the touristy area. You’ll shuffle along with waves of people to the grand San Marco plaza, that overwhelms at first. You don’t know where to look!
After making our way around the canals and to all the main sites, we headed back to the train station – relaxed from our walk but also extremely tired!
Final Impressions: Venice doesn’t disappoint, and it was a great place to end our vacation. We made our way back to Germany the next day (accidentally taking the long way, but 10 hours through the Dolomites and Alps makes the ride fly by!) As far as the trip itself, it was fabulous. I would recommend our itinerary to anyone – we did a lot in a little time but still managed to relax throughout the trip. We ate amazing food, drank delicious wine and saw all the prettiness Italy has to offer. It was a fantastic trip.