Venice, Italy is a 118 island maze of culture, history and food! It's definitely on my 'have to go back' list as one day was simply not enough random exploring for me!
Must Do's :
Getting around is super easy and cheap. Being that you have 2 options - walking or using the public Vaporetto ferry system. We only used the ferry system at the end of the day to get back to our bus. It was extremely easy to navigate and very cheap - around €2! If you have the time, I would suggest taking the long route around the islands and just enjoying the ride with a spectacular view.
Walking around you're guaranteed to get lost, and heck it's fun! You'll think you know exactly which bridge you crossed, only to find yourself, unbelievably, at a dead end, a 'no through' street ending either in brick wall or canal. We had a spare 30 minutes and decided to see how far we could get ourselves deep within the teeny walkways, canopied in tiny balconies and lamp posts. It didn't take long to find a quiet lonesome bridge tucked away from the crowds where we could take a few moments to bathe in the overwhelming joy of just being in this incredible city.
A lovely surprise was how clean the water is - for a main water system for a major city. A nice little symbol of this being the garbage boats driving around, men standing at the front with long nets, scooping up any floating rubbish.
Gotta love men...
'Oh Honey please don't stop there! I'm trying to get a photo...'
'I know, i'm just making it better!' *giant smiley face*.... still doesn't move out of the way, sigh...
Everything in this city is built on stilts! Originally they had wells throughout the entire city, boring down through the marshiness to fresh water below. After a while, they realised that this (obviously) was causing the structures to sink. Most wells are no longer, but a few stand around the city as a nice little historical talking point.
Timeless beauty captured within cloth, the pieces were stunning! Due to the immense cost to create each piece, the school is the last of its kind. All pieces are greatly subsidised by the government and customers pay an extremely discounted price. It's tucked away just off from St Marks Square and Basilica - I highly recommend checking it out!Famous glass blowing on the island of Murano
Another trade Venice is famous for is glass blowing. Murano is an island dedicated to it. We didn't have the time to visit unfortunately, but it's added to our bucket list!
We were told not to expect anything too impressive, especially no singing or guided information along our ride, almost like when people warn you about the 'It's A Small World' ride at Disneyland. It's exciting before you go on, with the hour long line of anticipation and flashy lights getting brighter as you get closer, but in the end, all you can do is go eh and tick it off the to-do list. But we still couldn't help but feeling like wide eyed kiddies going on the ride for the very first time! The water, the boats, the glittery shiny ornaments everywhere.... it may as well have been Disneyland. Our boats pulled up and we lined up, watching the rest of our group get in their boats. Slowly we made our way to the front, when a bright gold and black gondola pulled up with a shiny 'MC' on the back panel. 'This one! It has our initials on it! How cute is that!' I exclaimed.... just as 4 of our group were told to jump on. I was largely disappointed, until I saw him. A boat coming up with a man steering, possessing one of the most magnificent beards I have ever seen. 'No way! Him! I want that boat! I want that beard steering us!' and as I asked, we received. And boy was I right in thinking that beard held all the tricks to a purely magical gondola ride! We were serenaded with gentle venetian hymning and a simple commentary on the buildings we were passing. Although he could've been singing about dumb aussie tourists, or even the 'it's a small world' theme in italian, the authenticity was beautiful, his beard surely adding that little somethin' somethin' to his voice. Not that I can guarantee an adult disneyland version of your gondola ride, it's still well worth putting at the top of your to-do list.
Eat Real Italian Food
Italian food in Italy is like Italian food no where else. It's made using very simple and few ingredients. The point being to enjoy every single one, not necessarily having a few complimenting each other. This then means all ingredients in a dish are fresh and the cream of their crop! Each mouthful like a visit to a southern Italian Farmstead.
FUN FACT: Ok maybe not so fun, more of a heads up, crappy fact alert! Anywhere in Italy, you will find a 'sit down' fee added to your bill at restaurants. Logical solution would be to get takeaway... nope. They then also charge for takeaway containers/cups. Slightly frustrating, but especially when on a budget and this fee can be upwards of 5 euro per person!
Visit the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
With the little time we had in this labyrinth of a city, I let curtis get his nerd on in the form of gawking, like a One Direction fangirl at a concert, at one of his scientific idols. It was actually one of only a very few museums we checked out in our short time in Europe, and it delightfully impressed. I even found myself gawking at some of this incredible mans feats!
I can't recommend this higher! Save a day to just wonder, with no direction or purpose. You'll be so pleasantly surprised and I can guarantee you'll turn into a little kid at Disneyland yourself! With 2 Euro slices of pizza, gelato and perfect picture taking hideaways all around, you won't easily get bored or hungry.
I Spy! On your adventure, see if you can find Venice's own leaning tower, the statue depicting Manin and his trusty Griffin and the very first bridge of Venice, dripping in gold and jewels!