After returning from Budapest, I took a day to relax before heading out to Venice, Italy with Johannes. Early Friday morning we spent our time walking through the old streets and just enjoying the atmosphere. On the way to the hotel we stopped at a yogurt place for breakfast and got these delicious parfaits.
The hotel we stayed at was easy to find and nice inside, but walking through the unfinished, empty and dark hallways to get to the front door was almost something out of a horror movie. It was actually located on the island which was a bit more expensive, but the place we picked was HUGE. It had a spiral staircase at the door and a long 20ft hallway from the bedroom to the bathroom.
After dropping our things at the hotel we went on an aweseome free Venice walking tour. —>
Our guide Phillipo was a local Venetian and really funny, we spent two hours with him enjoying some of the less touristy places in Venice and even got tips of what to do/not to do.
-Santa Maria dei Miracoli is the only church in all of venice made completely of marble. Some other buildings are made of a marble covering, but this one was all marble. The biggest issue this has of course is THE WEIGHT. The ground below the church is soft so the foundation needs to be fortified many times to keep the church from sinking down. It is also very popular for weddings because of its white marble color.
– Venice was the city of traders at a very early age of trade. They would make a large amount of money selling their products far far away from their home. Most venetians only made one trip in their lifetime–because the trip for them lasted about 20-25 years.
– The slightly creepy, long nosed mask was used during the great plague of Europe to avoid smelling dead bodies. The people collecting bodies filled the nose of the mask with flowers to try to hide the smell.
-The Carnival Event each year is a big celebration in Venice, but throughout history there were many meanings or reasons for the celebration. Today there are many shops that make traditional paper mache masks with extravagant colors and designs…. Yes we each bought one! However -if you are in Venice and want to buy one too beware of the cheap masks made in mass production. Instead look for a shop that will show you were they make the masks or have more detailed designs.
– The islands of Venice were previously all separated, there was a church at the center of each island and the only way of transportation was boat. However, when the city was under the Austrian/Hungarian Empire the leaders decided to build bridges and pave the sidewalks.
before as many tourists- we went to see a lot of the main sight of Vencie. Such as St Marks square, the bridge of sighs, the Rialto bridge and the Bell tower.
We enjoyed the views from the tower, but I honestly think the FREE rooftop view at the department store next to Rialto Bridge was really great and maybe even better.
In order to enter the churches and the main dodges palace was just too much for us, so we just enjoyed the views from the outside. We did however take the boat to the San Giorgio to see the views of the main square. Although the bell tower was closed when I was with Johannes I went back on Monday with my friend Diem Mi. (Another Singapore friend, who lives in Germany) The only startling part of this tower was that the bells rang SO LOUD and naturally we didn’t see the warning sign so we had no idea the bells would ring at all. Haha😅
Murano- the glass island.
Johannes had heard that the glass island of venice was really worth our time so.. why not. We got onto a ferry with no idea where to go once we arrived. The guide from the tour said there was a free show so maybe that..?
But as we discussed our options on the boat, we were noticed by a nice man who said “you two are the perfect couple i imagined”.. turns out he was an owner of a newer glass blowing shop looking to grow his business. He was very friendly and convinced us we had to see his shop. The shop was called Former Church Santa Chiara Murano and as you can imagine the glass studio is built inside a reconstructed church, which is very very unique.
The show isn’t free, but it really is worth it. We felt as if we could be there for hours. It was so cool to watch how the glass pieces are made. The way the hot glass molds like clay is like nothing I have ever seen.
Santa Chiara has multiple glass masters at their shop and each glass master makes different special designs. Johannes and I watched a glass master make a couple hugging, a fish and a very complex vase with many layers.
Then on Monday, of course I had to go back with diem mi and lucky for me we got to see another glass master make a textured pitcher with cold water, a stallion and another type of vase.
Burano- the colorful island.
Is known for the nice colorful houses and cute bridges. On this island we took a few nice photos, ate average food and enjoyed the shops… but honestly there was nothing much to do there. So we didnt stay long and headed back to the more popular areas of Venice.
On Monday Diem Mi and I went to a Cemetery Island before Murano. It was really nothing like I have ever seen. An island totally dedicated to honor the dead. I felt really uneasy being there and felt as if it was a perfect place for a horror movie or something. However, I thought it was really interesting and worth our time to stop there.
Ok so now we were in italy. Which means I had to eat lots of pasta, pizza and GELATO. It was just what was nessicary.
The first.. and second day Johannes got his favorite dish Spaghetti Nero de Sepa. It is a type of black pasta with seafood and a sauce made of squid ink similar to the dish made with rice in croatia.
For dinner Johannes and I found Taverna Al Remer, a really nice tapas place were we paid for drinks and then maybe 2 more euro for an all you can eat appetizers. It was delicious and so filling, there was pasta, bruschettas, sardines, bread and risotto. We also could sit outside on the pier and see a beautiful view of the city down the grand canal… but we stayed inside because we wanted the best access to the food😂
Monday for food Diem Mi and I got this really famous and reasonably priced fresh pasta to go. We both got a pesto and chicken sausage curly pasta with parmesan! It was incredibly delicious.
–Since Venice is an island it really needs to be dispose of its waste properly and On the first day we just happened to walk past the trash ship. It was collecting many steel bins and was transporting the waste to the main land to be disposed of properly. Pretty gross, but also interesting!
–In Italy there seems to be a trend of wine drinkers and when we were passing a shop. I saw some very large antique looking bottles of wine. Maybe it is normal for Venetians, but I found it very interesting.
-Although it was closed when we went past we saw the area where the repair the Gondolas and also where they construct the special shaped wood used to steer the gondolas.
The next morning we got up early and headed to a small pier in the north of venice. The area was quiet and really mostly residential.
Soon after we made it to the meeting point we met our teacher..you must be wondering why would we need a teacher in Venice on vacation. Well, Venice is known for their romantic gondola rides and music.. but no one tells you how terribly over priced it is for just a 30 min ride.
So luckily I did some research and I found a non-profit company called Row Venice. They were local venetian people, mostly women, that learned to row as children and spend some of their time teaching tourists how to row a gondola for 90min in order to keep their traditions alive.
Our guide said she learned to row from the elders in her village because it was the only sport she could do and she was even attending gondola race competitions.