Our first full day in Venice started with breakfast paninis at our hotel, Belle Epoque. They weren’t good, but it got me thinking more hotels should do breakfast paninis….if any hotels out there are reading this.
Scattered throughout Italy you are bound to come across famous pieces of art. In Florence you see the Statue of David. In Rome there is the Sistine Chapel. Milan? The Last Supper. If you visit the city of Venice, the famous artwork tourists flock to see is the Vitruvian Man.
Which is exactly what we intended to do our first morning. Venice is a fairly small city so we walked across town to the museum. We explored the museum, seeing some very beautiful pieces. But no Vitruvian Man. We figurered it would be towards the end, popular pieces usually are.
M asked an usher where we could find the man. Sadly, the usher explained the Vitruvian Man has been removed for touchups.
Next on our agenda was a Gondola Tour. Our hotel concierge suggested we go to the Rio Alta. In retrospect, it was a bit odd she would suggest a tour in literally the most touristy area of the city. We were hoping for a more authentic experience. But after getting lost we eventually found the Rio Alta and began our overpriced Gondola Tour. They are all the same price ($80 for 30 minutes) so it is more of a question do you want to do it or not?
We did a tour but it was beyond touristy. Like that was potentially the most touristy thing we have ever done. And we have been on Hop on Hop off tour busses.
There were so many Gondolas it was like rush hour traffic on the 405. And these Gondolas were not filled with Italians or other couples, no. Our gondola was right behind 2 or 3 other gondolas filled with a bunch of Chinese tourists singing, in Chinese, at the top of their lungs. What ya gunna do?
At the end we were still 100% glad we did it. It is a must when visiting Venice. While it may not have been the most romantic or authentic feeling tour, we enjoyed the views and the pretty great steering.
After we deboarded we headed to St. Mark’s square. There M played with some birds….a lot actually….a lot of birds.
We were due for a lunch break so we searched around for a reasonably priced place. None of which were in St. Mark’s Square. So we stumbled upon a small restaurant called Al Gallo D’Oro, just a block or two in from the square.
M washed his hands and we filled up on wine, Calamari, and pasta. Yum!
After lunch we we heading back to the square when we noticed a small shop advertising a huge bag of rolls for 0.25 euros. We of course bought them and headed straight for the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square.
M was having the time of his life. Until a cop came over and told him he was not allowed to feed the birds. Go figure.
At the head of the square sits Saint Marks Basilica, with a long never-ending looking line going out the front. It was free ( a rule of ours when visiting churches) so we got in line. Right before you enter the church, they are bound to find some part of your clothing that is innappropriate and charge you 0.25 euros for a plastic scarf medical thing to cover yourself up with. Ok.
We entered the Basilica, beautiful, but pictures were not allowed. Most of it was also restricted unless you wanted to pay a 2 or 3 euro fee.
After we left the church I tried to give it to one of the ladies in line and explain they were going to charge her but I am pretty sure she just thought I was trying to sell this weird plastic cover up. O well, language barrier.
After standing in the hot sun for what felt like forever we got some Gelato. I enjoyed an Oreo and Cheesecake cone, which was heavenly.
We returned to our hotel for a nice afternoon nap and did some research on nearby restaurants.
We found a lovely restaurant, called Al Faro, where we had an excellent meal. M got a menu with some truly incredible salmon pasta, potatoes and steak. I enjoyed bruschetta and eggplant parmigiana. Two of my favorites. Washed it all down with a couple of beers and Bellinis. It was an excellent local location with authentic Italian food.
We ended the day with more gelato and a small souvenir shop to pick up our postcards and stickers. The store also had a little helper.
We woke up to another lovely hotel breakfast panini. Then took a taxi boat with a very long wait to a store we had to revisit. The day before while window shopping we stopped by an adorable small boutique with different types of stationary, ink and wax stamps. We hoped to return, but could not retrace our steps to the store. M had found it online the night before. So we took the taxi boat there and bought a cool wax seal with a “C” on it. M’s last initial, hoping to use it for our wedding invitations.
After the boutique we got back on the boat taxi and headed to the nearby island of Burano. But before we boarded there was a paper on a window saying this:
We must defend at least the children: Every day a lot of pickpockets come to Venice, many are pregnant women and others with babies in a front pocket exposed to the sun and summer heat. These ladies often use and exploit children, with the awareness that they are not criminally prosecuted,, forcing them to pick up unsuspecting tourists. We ask to the competent authorities and all the social services departments to apply the UN Conservation on the Rights of Childhood and Adolescence where it is cited: States are committed to protecting children from all forms of exploitation. (Including Illegal activities, beggars, thefts and pickpocketing).
It was so refreshing seeing activism against these gypsies who exploit their children. We saw it often in all parts of Italy and tourists need to be made more aware.
If you are unfamiliar with Burano, it is a colorful city with every building painted a unique color. Providing for plenty of fun tourist shots.
As soon as we exited the boat we stopped for lunch at a busy restaurant on the water called Fritto Misto. There they served giant bowls of calamari and french fries. Giant. We prob didn’t need two.
After lunch we walked around the city taking tons of photos. I was fascinated with the colorful buildings, M couldn’t stop staring at the leaning church tower.
Here are a BUNCH of photos we took of the o so pretty city.
On the way back I found a small store selling the most beautiful artwork of Burano. I couldn’t help myself and bought a small painting.
Then we of course got Gelato.
Finished our gelato then took the taxi boat back to the hotel. Picked up some beers and Bellinis then relaxed in the room for a bit.
We went to dinner at a nearby restaurant called Ostaria al Vecio Pozzo. Expensive but pretty good food.
Hotel: Belle Epoque
Review: We arrived in Venice pretty late so this hotel was perfect! It is so close to the train station and a bunch of restaurants. The rooms were nice, not incredible. Very Red? Decorated. Check out the fish bowl sink on the way to the elevator. The breakfast was ok. We loved that they had breakfast paninis but the wilted tomatoes and lettuce made them terrible.