When we were planning this 16 day trip throughout Italy we were a little bummed that Venice couldn’t fit into the itinerary because we were headed in the opposite direction. Thankfully, we had free time on our last day in Radda and we decided on a whim to take the train for a day trip to the coveted Venice, Italy. Even though it was short in time, our travel log in Venice is full of beautiful photos from everywhere we walked.
It was my Dad who brought up the suggestion of taking the train to Venice because he had been reading some great articles on how superior the train system is in Italy and that you can get from point A to B on a bullet train in just a few hours. That night we purchased 4 tickets for the morning train to take us from Florence to Venice in just 2 hours.
Day 9 : We had risen early for the hour drive into Florence (I’m going to call it Firenze as it’s known in Italy). Again, it’s a big city so plan on giving yourself some extra time to find parking. It’s an absolutely mad house of scooters, cars, pedestrians and buses without the greatest posting of signs as to where you can park near the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. We ended up finding a spot on a side street a flew blocks away.
People said it would be hard to navigate once you’re inside the train station, but it’s really one gigantic platform with multiple train lines. You simply find your train number on the large ticker boards and be ready for when it pulls in because it announces the track number and you hustle to get on it. We had gotten there with 45 minutes to spare and there are some nice little cafés to grab an espresso and croissant to take with you on the train. Once on the train, kick back, relax and enjoy the 2 hour journey to Venice!
I must say, there is nothing like exiting a train station in Venice. Within steps you are looking out at the Grand Canal and the hustle and bustle of water taxi’s, pedestrians, you name it. It was such a magical moment to stop and take in your surroundings because there really is nothing like it in the world. A city floating on water!
We purchased a small little map (just fork over the few euros and save yourself from walking in circles!) and set out across one of the first main bridges and we were off walking amongst the tiny canals.
It’s really hard to not get caught up in stopping for photo ops every 10 feet. There is such a unique, uncanny culture that exists here that we have seen nothing similar to it throughout the past 8 days. With our little map in hand, we headed in the general direction of Piazza San Marcos, but often opted for the less traditional route.
We met back up with the Grand Canal at the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge. I marveled at this location because you had two completely different views when you looked left versus right. Left you were looking back into the heart of Venice and right you were headed with the direction of traffic out to a large body of water. It was the best photography location I think I’ve been to yet!
If there is any tip I can give you about your time in Venice, find a place to eat AWAY from the piazza. We waited too long to eat and were at the point of just finding any place to sit down and ended up a few streets off San Marcos and had the worst meal of our entire trip. They took advantage of us being tourists, the meal was less than desirable and when we questioned the extra charges on the bill they all of a sudden couldn’t speak English. It was a big ol’ fail.
Back on a positive note, Piazza San Marcos is absolutely massive in size and stunning in detail. There are throngs of people everywhere, but it never takes away from the view of the Basilica that takes center stage. This is one of the churches that you have to get up close and personal with to marvel at the precision of detail they put into it. We didn’t go inside because the line was excessively long, but the outside view was worth it!
A quick jaunt down to the “main street” along the water and you’re taken back by the wide open water view that lies ahead. Here is where you can catch the world famous gondola rides. Thanks to my Mom who treated us to a scenic ride throughout the canals it really is something you must do when in Venice. It’s about 40 minutes long and cost a little over $100 euros. It’s not cheap, but it’s a fabulous way to see the city from a different view and the gondoliers are full of local knowledge. Our guide was a delight (both in mannerisms and in looks! ) and we really had a great time kicking back in our little boat as we explored the city Marco Polo once called home.
“Don’t fall in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, but with the one who makes your world more beautiful.”
On a side note, I didn’t think through my outfit very carefully because I ended up looking like I could have navigated one of these gondolas!
We had an early evening train ride to catch back, so we headed back in the general direction we came from continuing to meander through tiny alleys, over canal bridges and through old shops. It was a lovely experience that I’m so glad we did because these pictures will last a lifetime.
Wine Bottle Count : 35 (The bottle count didn’t change, we actually didn’t order any wine!)
Keep Living a Stylized Life.