Today it was farewell to Rome. I’m glad we gave Rome another chance, we have absolutely loved it on this visit. Although we were sad to say goodbye, we felt as if we had seen what we wanted to see. It was a fairly early start with an 8:30am train to Venice. There was no need to book a taxi though, as there is a taxi stand downstairs from the apartment. There was one small Fiat waiting when we arrived at the taxi stand, but it’s amazing what you can fit in the boot of a Fiat.
There are two companies that run high speed trains in Italy. The state owned Trenitalia and private Italo. Our Milan to Venice ride was with Italo, today was our chance to compare it with Trenitalia. Trenitalia won the prize for punctuality, we left and arrived right on time. Italo was definitely more comfortable though, today’s train was a real rattler at high speeds. It wasn’t a particularly interesting train ride with much of the time spent in tunnels or crossing flat land, but we were soon pulling into Venezia St Lucia station.
The options for getting to our hotel were vaporetto (water bus) or water taxi. We decided to have a little splurge and went with a taxi. We just couldn’t resist the chance to ride in a boat like the movies and arrive at our private hotel jetty. It was also much cheaper (and warmer) than a gondola ride, and we cruised down the same narrow canals.
Our hotel is a couple of minutes from St Mark’s Square and surrounded by designer shops. There is no way we would be staying here if it wasn’t the depth of winter when hotel rates plummet in Venice.
Venice is famous for its fog and rain in the winter, but today was a beautiful day. We wanted to get out and make the most of it. We grabbed a quick pasta lunch nearby the hotel, then headed to St Mark’s Square to climb to the top of the Camapanile. This bell tower isn’t particularly high, but gives great views of Venice and the surrounding lagoon.
Next stop was St Barnaba Church, famous as the library in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. It was also conveniently on the same square as a branch of the highly-rated “Grom” gelateria. Most gelaterias have the gelato beautifully displayed, but this one only had a list on the wall (Italian only) and the frozen goodies hidden away in stainless steel containers with lids. It took some of the anticipation away, but the actual gelato was some of the best we have ever tasted.
Venice must be the best place in the world to just wander and get lost. The streets are narrow, winding and totally confusing. We knew that if the GPS failed in Rome, it was worse than useless here. The kids took off on their own adventures and we headed for the Rialto bridge. Then Andy headed off on a photography mission and I wandered a bit deeper into the back streets. The best thing about this place is never seeing a single car. The walk back to the hotel was even more confusing in the dark with no map, but we all ended up back at the hotel eventually, although probably not on the most direct route!
Choosing a restaurant for dinner was a bit of a lottery. Our hotel restaurant has a Michelin star and prices to match, so we crossed that one off the list and went wandering. Every restaurant has the menu outside, along with a passionate Italian convincing you his restaurant is the best deal in town. We took a punt on one that looked busy and not too touristy. It was a lovely meal although not the greatest bargain of the trip with various added charges that are so common in Italy.
Venice by night is always magic, and especially so in the low season. Wandering back to the hotel thorough St Mark’s Square with hardly a person in sight was such a treat.