This is the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice. Venice has NO streets, just canals. This requires a bit of adjustment to your thinking and traveling plans. There are no cars in Venice, but lovely gondolas and water taxis abound. Depending on the amount you are willing to spend, you can choose private or public transportation. We were fortunate enough to be able to take private taxis most of the time we were in Venice.
As you can see from the smiles on our faces, we found the taxis not only comfortable, but luxurious and a great way to see the City!
The drivers are prompt and courteous and assist with baggage and boarding (which can be a little tricky when the canal is busy and the waves are many).
We had many trips on the boats, and even were treated to a Party aboard one. My son and his friends arranged for a night trip to Burano, to the El Gatto Nero for a fantastic seafood dinner. We drank lovely wine, sang songs ( they have great sound systems on these boats) and had an overall fantastic evening Island Hopping!
I think Kevin really got into this riding around in Water Taxis!
Venice is a beautiful City floating on 18 islands. The history and pageantry here are amazing. They have a Carnival in February, where everyone dresses in elaborate costumes and wears fantastic masks. The Carnival lasts a week now, but we were told by our guide that it used to last an entire MONTH!
Our first tour in Venice was with Walks of Italy. It was an all day tour broken into two parts by a Gondola Ride and lunch.
The first part of the walking tour was with our guide Marco! Marco was an amazing looking, very personable and knowledgeable guide. We enjoyed everything from the Rialto Bridge (which has shops built all along its sides) and the Rialto Market (which is where many of the residents of Venice shop daily) and Marco Polo's childhood home. Marco shared so much about the history of Venice. The Gondolas have a story of their own. They all must be black. The Unusually shaped metal decoration on the bow has meaning in each piece of it's display. The curved larger part represents the Crown/Hat the Doge (president of the Republic) wore, the six rectangular pieces which stick out below it represent the six Districts of the City. The one which faces the back of the gondola represents an island just outside of Venice which supplies much of the gar den vegetables and fish the City uses.
The Rialto Market was amazing and huge. This is part of the open area, but much of it is contained within a large concrete and brick building and there is fish, meat, produce, baked goods and any other food product you could possibly dream of within arms length.
This is our Tour Guide with Walks of Italy. Marco was really informative and could answer any question we posed without hesitation.
The Water Taxis are only able to negotiate the larger canals.
It really is an amazing and beautiful City and I can't tell you how much fun we had.
One thing you need to know, however, is that because of the canals, bridges and lack of continuity of streets and sidewalks, you can get very LOST! Even worse, because of the closeness of the buildings, Google Maps and even your telephone don't work very well in the narrow alleyways … we spent FOUR HOURS wandering around one night before giving up and waiting for Charles in the Piazza San Marco - the one place we could always find!
The Piazza San Marco is absolutely huge. On this day we had showers, but usually there are beautiful tables set up all along both sides of the Piazza with hundreds of people dining and listening to live music. Oh, please note, that unless you want to spend a LOT of money, don't eat on the Piazza square, but on the side streets are many, many delicious small cafe's and restaurants. Eat where the locals eat and save yourself some money.
In the afternoon our tour picked up again at the Piazza San Marco, and we toured the Doges Palace and the Basilica. Our Tour Guide, Moses was also excellent and told us the story of Cassanova, the history of the Doges who had lived in the Palace. We toured the prison and crossed the Bridge of Sighs. Altogether, we had an amazing day and our little brains were swimming with new knowledge and appreciation of Venice.
Tomorrow would be another day, and another tour…heading for Murano (with it's beautiful and amazing glass artists) Burano (where they still make lace by hand and have colorful houses along the streets and canals) and Torcello, where we visited an ancient Basilica.
More to come….
PEACE LOVE AND JOY!