What else can I say about Venice except “Wow”?
Between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I participated in the Cortona Maymester program at my school. During the program, we had three days for travel, and I dedicated my three days to exploring southern Italy. One thing I always regretted was not being able to see Venice before I left. Thus, when an opportunity presented itself, I took it.
After a whirlwind of a day in Salzburg, Erin and I took an 8AM train to Venice. The train ride was long, and we arrived just a bit after 2PM. Just walking out of the station and seeing my first few of Venice was really something. The vaporetto ride from the station was also quite nice since it followed the whole grand canal instead of going around the island.
The AirBnB we rented was quite nice. It was located close to the Giardini stop on line 1 of the vaporetto which was easy to find. It was also only 15 minutes away by walking from San Marco Square which is one of the major attractions of Venice. Our host, Xenia, did a great job of introducing us to the neighborhood as well as identifying interesting things to see in Venice. We were understandably exhausted upon arrival in Venice, but wanted to explore right away since we had so little time there. After dropping off our stuff and changing into clothes for warmer weather (it was definitely not jeans weather), we were off to get food and explore.
We first tried getting to San Marco Square, but ended up getting lost in the process. I really wanted to see the Basilica, but it closed quite early which sucked. Somehow we did find Rialto Bridge, although I’m not sure how. I just randomly walked around until we ended up on a large bridge with lots of shops. It was very crowded, but I could definitely see why it was a place people would want to gather. Surprisingly though, the views from the bridge weren’t really that amazing. I think viewing the bridge from the vaporetto is probably a better experience.
Also they’re super strict about where people sit in that area which sucked because we were trying to eat gelato and just enjoy being near the water. By now, we were a bit tired of the crowd, so to make the most use of our 24 hour pass, we decided to head to a recommendation by our AirBnB host which was San Giorgio Island. From the Rialto stop, we just needed to take the line 2 to the island, but we must have taken it from the wrong direction because we ended up riding on the boat for almost an hour. There was also a random part of our boat ride where we saw these billiard balls floating in the water for no reason. I’m still not sure if it was just an art exhibit or something else.
The island itself was nice, but unfortunately we arrived too late to do anything. We also couldn’t walk around the whole island because part of it was blocked, so we ended up just walking around for a bit before heading back. While walking back we did get to see an odd glass like sculpture. It looked a bit like glass legos which was interesting. The view from San Giorgio was quite nice, but our timing was just unfortunate as far as enjoying the island went.
After that, we decided to go back and get dinner at a restaurant recommended by our host and then rest for the night. The next morning, we attempted to wake up early to go island hopping. We did get out quite early, but because of the vaporetto schedules, we didn’t get to Murano until around 10AM. It was also unfortuate for us that we went on a Sunday which meant most of the glassblowing demonstrations weren’t happening. However, the shops were still open at least which was nice.
One of the coolest things about Murano was the presence of large glass sculptures even outside of shops. There was one that was like a giant glass sea urchin in the city square and also one that was a giant glass abacus. The stops were also nice to look around in because all the glass sculptures were quite amazing. However, it was somewhat difficult to find small glass trinkets to buy that weren’t a bit expensive.
We wanted to go to Burano next, but be forwarned that the line to get onto the boat from Murano can get quite long. You probably won’t need to wait too long, but it can definitely feel long. I wasn’t expecting much from Burano since I didn’t really know anything about it. Our host told us it was the place where all the houses are different colors, but I still didn’t have an expectation for what we would see. I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be such a cute island.
The multicolored houses reminded me of what Bergen’s Bryggen should’ve looked. To be fair, I think bright sunlight probably makes everything look a lot better than cloudy skies, but the colors were still stunning nonetheless. Erin said it reminded her a bit of Copenhagen which made me a bit sad that I skipped Copenhagen (but not really because I’m not sure my wallet would’ve been able to make it through). Burano was quite cute and seemed to be known for its lace. We didn’t do much except walk around a little, but I definitely think it is a must-visit.
There wasn’t much else we could do since Erin needed to catch her train, so I didn’t do much else. Overall, Venice was amazing and I really wish we could’ve spent a bit more time there. I think I’m slightly biased because Italy will always hold a special place in my heart, but that’s just how it is I suppose. Until next time!