A few days in Venice

In an entire year of living in Italy I have visited quite some great places and famous cities. There was still one city remaining, however, which I planned to visit later: Venezia (Venice). After all, Venezia, is a city which should not be visited with friends, but with someone special 🙂 .
When planning a visit, there are two major features to consider: the trip there and a place to stay at. After those are handled, the rest is just details. The trip there was made via WizzAir, the local low-cost travel company. The round-trip ticket for two was quite cheap (~€125), considering that the ride takes only around one and a half hours from Cluj. The plane lands in Treviso airport, which is a 1.5 hour bus ride away from the actual island of Venezia and costs €13 (round-trip ticket via ATVO). By buying the bus-ticket we received also a small map of the city of Venezia and the timetable for the bus which is synchronized with all flights leaving from Treviso Airport.

Hotel Locanda CanalThe other important factor to deal with was the hotel. I have found a great one via booking.com: Hotel Locanda Canal. A double room for 3 nights (breakfast and WiFi included) was €225 plus €9 city tax. I must say I was a bit skeptic about this, because the hotel is located too close to Piazza San Marco and the price seemed just incredibly low. I was, however, “happily disappointed”, because the hotel was excellent. The room we stayed in was nicely furnished with a view to a nearby small canal and the staff was very friendly.

One important tip about Venezia: if you are at most 29 years old, you are eligible for the Rolling Venice Card which costs €4 (per person) and gives you a number of reductions for local transportation and museums. We have purchased this ticket on Piazzale Roma at a marked HelloVenezia office (you can’t miss it). If you are not accustomed to Italian way of handling problems, this may be your first chance, by waiting in line until the nice Italian lady in front of you puts up 100 questions and the ticket salesman answers all of them and they together work out a strategy to… well I have no idea what, but it took about half an hour… (frustration resolved 😀 ).

Venezia vaporettoGetting around in Venezia is doable on foot, but I would recommend using the vaporetto instead. We have purchased a 72h ticket usable on any ACTV vaporetto (which has routes to the local islands also). We payed for the ticket €18 (using the Rolling Venice card). We have used mostly route no. 1 (which travels quite frequently on Canal Grande). The vaporetto itself is funny, for people used to traveling on dry land: it is the actual equivalent of a normal bus stopping at designated stations. The first trip (from the bus-station on Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Marco) was quite the event for us giving the first glimpse of Canal Grande stuffed with historic buildings, restaurants and of course gondolas.

Given the fact that there is a number of museums in Venezia, it can cost quite some money to visit all, so, again, using the good old Rolling Venice Card, we have purchased a Museum Pass for €14. This can be bought on site for example in the Correr Museum (on Piazza San Marco) or at any museum which is part of Musei Civici Venezia group. The Correr Museum is actually the entrance to 2 more attractions (included in the price): the Museo Arheologico and the Sale Monumentali Biblioteca Marciana.

A real attraction on Piazza San Marco, however, is the Palazzo Ducale which with its great interior court and grandiose halls is not only an eye-candy but an important historical site. Visiting Palazzo Ducale also includes the visit into the Prisons which is connected to the palace via Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) and is the place where Casanova was imprisoned. This too was included in the Museum Pass.

Also on Piazza San Marco is the Basilica of San Marco, which with colorful and very decorated style is a must see attraction in Venezia. As in all churches in Italy, make sure you are properly dressed (no shorts or visible shoulders) in order to enter. Personally I was not too impressed with it (I think it is nowhere near il Duomo in Milano and even much further from the St. Peter Basilica in Rome). Despite that, entry into the basilica is highly secured: one must not enter having backpacks (there is a special place to leave it not far from the basilica) and photographing is prohibited (as in all museums). There is no entry fee, so we had a look, but there is not much to see, if you do not pay the extra charges to have a glimpse at special places (which we considered not worth it). You can pay €5 to be allowed up the terraces to have a view of the square from above, but this again seemed useless, because by paying €8 (€3 more), you can go up the bell-tower, il Campanille, from where you can see not only the square but the entire main island and also the neighboring islands. We considered that much better and decided to go up. The view indeed is marvelous, although it can be quite windy and chilly on top.

Because our brief visit was very eventful, I have decided to split the stories into more parts (possibly 3), so I will end here the first part, so nobody gets too bored or tired while reading it :).


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