After spending two glorious weeks in the heart of France, David met me and we set out to Italy for nine days. We began our trip together in Venice and we couldn't have been happier with that decision. Venice is just as magical and romantic as it looks. Seriously, from the moment we arrived I could hear the Italian background music playing, setting the stage for our romantic getaway to this gorgeous city. We will absolutely be back.
*Insert Return to Me by Dean Martin. If you don't know this song look it up right now and play it in the background and enjoy through my camera lens.
We decided to go through Airbnb for our stay in Venice as it's a smaller city and it's very easy to get just about anywhere by foot. By that I mean, we didn't need hotel staff to help us get around or tell us where to start or plan our day. Solo exploring is quite easy and I highly recommend it.
We had such a wonderful Airbnb experience here and it was more like a bed and breakfast then staying in someone else's home. The room was much cheaper than a hotel but the amenities were just as good. The room itself was decorated perfectly, with a very Venetian feel of rich colors and large windows leading to even taller ceilings. We had daily cleaning service and breakfast included and the crème de la crème of this place, canal views that did not disappoint. (see below) The location was unbeatable, steps away from the big sites yet still quiet. I would highly recommend this bnb for your stay in Venice. I've attached the link below.
We spent three nights and two full days in Venice which was the perfect amount of time. Being New Yorkers we spent little time in the touristy spots and really set out to explore the city. The farthest distance from our Airbnb was twenty five minutes walking so we did not see a need to buy a water taxi ticket for our time in Venice.
On our first day we walked over to Piazza San Marco, also known as San Marco Square, to take check-off our must sees, and the views did not disappoint. As I mentioned, our goal for our stay in Venice was to enjoy the romance and scenes of the city- less on the touristy end, so we did not purchase any tickets to go inside and see the main tourist attractions but snapped a few photos outside and quickly scattered away from the busy streets.
There are so many areas of Venice that are more local and I highly recommend exploring these areas for both food and scenery.
After visiting San Marco Square we set out for lunch, only after taking a photo on the iconic Rialto Bridge on Grand Canal connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo. This Bridge is the oldest of all four bridges that span the Grand Canal. I recommend snapping a quick pic and moving on as it's quite touristy but totally beautiful. Another option is to come back at night for the views as it's arguably more beautiful with fewer crowds but not so great for photos.
Additionally, stay away from all restaurants around this area as they're tourist traps and will be filled with over-priced food. Walking the additional ten minutes to a more local Venetian restaurant is absolutely the way to go, not to mention your wallet and taste buds will be happier.
After snapping our quick pic with our selfie stick (yes, our selfie game needs work...) we ventured to lunch at Osteria Da Alberto for a little pasta pick me up. (See photos below) I had the four cheese gnocchi with a sharp gorgonzola which was absolutely delicious. David had the seafood linguini that was perfectly cooked with fresh seafood. And, we shared a starter of grilled squid salad that was divine. I highly recommend checking out this place during your stay.
For the afternoon we walked around into the different shops and explored most of the San Marco side. We went through the winding streets and back alleys enjoying the gondolas and Italian music. Afternoon cappuccinos with fresh Italian pastries were included in our afternoon adventures of popping in and out of the unique shops.
That evening we freshened up and headed out to drink and eat- the best things to do when in Italy! Because most of Europe has softer drinking laws people can carry around any and all alcohol. Consuming on the street is allowed and encouraged! We ordered a few sangria’s to go and set off in search of an authentic Italian restaurant. I kept reading online that some of the best food could be found in the Cannaregio area of Venice which was roughly a 20 minute walk from our Airbnb in San Marco. This area did not disappoint with its canal seating restaurants and a perfect view of the sunset. We chose Osteria Al Bacco, which served delicious pastas, fresh seafood, and endless wine by the side of the water. We drank and ate the evening away and stopped in at a pastry shop on our way back- definitely, always, take the cannoli.
Day two we set out to explore San Polo and it’s winding streets. Again, popping into little shops and adventuring through the old, beautiful sites including churches and libraries, never saying “no” to a detour down a pretty side-alley. We stopped off at Trattoria Dona Onesta for a late lunch, which was a real treat. Situated right on the canal, Trattoria Dona Onesta serves its patrons through the windows of the restaurant to give its costumers the best views possible. I highly recommend getting lost in this area but finding yourself at Trattoria Dona Onesta with a large plate of the seafood risotto. PS. Clearly this trip consisted of a lot of food.
Making our way home to freshen up for the evening, we stopped off and grabbed a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy canal side, which I highly recommend. A little recharge and a bottle of Prosecco later, we were ready to enjoy our evening with more wine and food. We fell in love with the Cannaregio area of Venice and wanted to explore a bit more so started the night back in that direction.
We finished our evening with a lovely dinner by the canal again at Al Timon Bragozzo. Delicious pastas and perfect for steak lovers. Between the cozy atmosphere and rich drinks this is a must stop on your trip. Be sure to arrive early as seating is minimal and the line starts early.
Before coming to Venice we’d heard mixed reviews and expected lots of tourism. Both David and I were pleasantly surprised with the ease of staying out of the crowds and how quickly our expectations were exceeded on all fronts. To my fellow New Yorkers: the rumors of the smells have been greatly exaggerated. We hardly noticed any bad smell at all! It was absolutely the perfect start to our travels through Italy and we cannot wait for the day to go back and visit!
Arrivederci, Venice. Until we meet again.