Monday, March 14, 2011

Venice, Italy–January 2007

After visiting Venezuela, I had caught the travel fever. I arrived home and began contemplating my next international adventure. At the time Jay and I had only been dating a few months. Plus, my trip to Venezuela was essentially a guided tour. For my first international trip, I knew I needed a competent travel companion with some experience. Who better to ask than my mom?!?!

We left the United States on New Year’s Day and flew from Dulles to Atlanta to Rome (for a delayed flight) to Venice. This was not our original plan. We originally booked through Air Italia, but the airline pulled out of Dulles between when we booked and when we flew. Long story short, it was a very very very long day.

We finally arrived in Venice some 31 hours later as the sun was setting. The ride into the city was beautiful. If you fly into Venice, definitely take the ferry into Venice.


Of all the places we stayed on our trip, our hotel in Venice was by far our favorite. We stayed at Hotel Campiello, which is located right off of San Marco Square. The hotel was in great condition, clean, the staff was nice and friendly, plus we had a complimentary breakfast every morning. Can’t beat that?!?!


During our visit we explored San Marco Plaza, San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. The Doge’s Palace was by far my favorite. We did the self-guided audio tour which was fantastic. There were several times the tour guide took us up a stairwell, told us to turn around and started describing a fantastically famous piece of art work. Italy wowed me with all its famous artwork hidden in almost every palace and church we entered.


Since we were in Italy right after the New Year, we saw several Manger Scenes. They were so beautiful! Every church and public square had one. The Manger Scenes were done with the same detail as American Train Gardens. And the scenes took on a whole different feel at night when they were all lit up, the center piece of the public square where they were located. Despite the cold, it was very pretty to see Italy during the Holiday Season.


Besides all the grand churches in Venice, we spent one day riding the boat up and down the Grand Canal. We had our Rick Steves book with us that explained each attraction as we passed. If we wanted to take a closer look, we just hopped off and back on. It was kind of like those Hop-Off-Hop-On buses but a lot cooler!


The final two attractions I have to mention are the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. The Rialto bridge is a bridge with shops on either side. It was most beautiful at night all lit up and a great place to pick up a few souvenirs.

The Bridge of Sighs connects the old prisons to to the Doge’s Palace. The tiny bridge has a few windows that prisoner’s would take in their last views of Venice before being executed. Below is a picture of the bridge as well as some Venetians dressed for Mardi Gras in front of the bridge. Mardi Gras is huge in Venice. They started advertising for it right after the New Year. The picture below does not do the costumes justice on how detailed and beautiful they were!

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Our entire trip to Italy was incredible, but Venice definitely left an impression! While I loved seeing San Marco Square, I equally enjoyed wandering the “streets” of Venice. It was so cool that there are no cars on the islands, just pedestrian walkways. A true pedestrian paradise!