We had limited time in Venice - so to make the most of it, we walked around the city. Starting from the Piazza San Marco, we crossed the Grand Canale over Ponte Rialto. Then walked towards the Ponte dell Academia passing through numerous charming campos and canals... And completed the tour by reaching Piazza San Marco again.
It's quite easy to navigate through Venice once you figure out all the important venue names. There are signs all over the city, follow them if it's your first time. Otherwise, it's easy to find yourself in a maze :)
Fondest memory: Taking this picture of Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The gondols moving along quietly... After a long day of exploring Venice, it was telling me - 'here, life goes on as it is... no matter how many tourists come along...'
You really need to wander around the maze of back streets and narrow canals to get a feel for Venice. And by streets, I really mean sidewalks, because there are no cars in Venice - my favorite thing about this place! Just canals and sidewalks!
Spending all your time in Piazza San Marco or at the Rialto Bridge will only get you part of the experience, and often it's the loudest, most crowded part, with the most trash on the ground. Away from the piazza and the Rialto you get a completely different feeling - quieter, more Venetian, less touristy. Less grand, but more charming perhaps, with laundry hanging out of windows and boys kicking soccer balls around in the little campos.
Favorite thing: Sestiere Santa Croce is probably the most unknown part of Venice. It is situated next to the Piazzale Roma and therefore inevitable to those who start their exploring of Venice by foot. Nevertheless, most of the visitors turn left taking direction to Piazza San Rocco or along Canal Grande. I suggest you to turn right, deep into sestiere, and your effort will be awarded by some beautiful sights and, above all, quiet and uncrowded Venice.
Actually, San Marco is the smallest sestiere of the six into which the city of Venice is divided. Even though, it contains both the political and religious heart of the town. In fact, it is the only square in whole the city which concentrates more then fifteen centuries of history and art.
Piazzeta San Marco was the main door, the first sight of Venice that the travellers of long ago set eyes on. The two columns were the ideal door posts with, on their capitals, the patron saints of the city, Theodore and the lion of Saint Mark, which is the new patron.
Punta della Dogana, named after the old Custom of the Venice Republic, stretches out into St. Mark's Basin, separating the Canal Grande from the Canal Guidecca. It is where the Baroque Chiesa della Madonna della Salute is situated, one of the most beautiful churches of Venice.
Venetians call it Dogana da Mar, it was built in 1677 by Benoni when The Republic of Venice was a major commercial center in the Mediterranean basin and Europe aswell. Dogana da Mar controlled access to the Canal Grande and the San Marco doks.
Fondest memory: On the top of the gateway to the Dogana is a golden ball with the weather vane, representing Fortune.
Nowadays Punta della Dogana houses the Francois Pinault Collection, after the interiors has been redesigned by Tadao Ando.
It's so wonderful to walk around in the old citycentre of Venice. Everywhere you look, you will find another lovely canal, from the huge and wide Canal Grande to the small ones.
Fondest memory: Dorsoduro was one of my favourites areas. Everyday from or to our hotel I choosed another route to discover new parts of the city and lovely tiny canals like this.
A must is to take vaparetto no 1 from St Mark's Square vaparetto stop in the direction of Lido, then get off and wait for the next one to arrive. You can then have prime position for taking photos/filming in the front or back of the boat and will start from the bottom of the Canal up to the top.
Boat no 82 also goes up and down the Grand Canal.
From the huge car parking buildings on Tronchetto or Piazzale Roma you can reach Piazza San Marco taking the vaporetto Nr. 2 express line, which runs through the wide Giudecca Canal, water access to Venice for the large cruise ships, to San Zaccaria on Riva degli Schiavoni.
But you do not need to wait for San Marco only. On the way you will have a wonderful view of both side of the canal, Dorsoduro and Giudecca.
The most intriguing waterfront promenade is the Zattere lined by a series of notable buildings and monuments, running the entire southern shore of Dorsoduro.
Fondest memory: The marvellous Casa Dei Tre Oci by the painter and architect Mario De Maria, a nice re-interpretation, midway between Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau styles, of the Venetian gothic palace. It stands on the island of Giudecca. Along the years it was home, apart from De Maria and his family, for architect Renzo Piano and for Peggy Guggenheim's daughter.
Ristorante Riviera on Dorsoduro side, locatated around the Maritime station at the end of Zattere opposite Mulino Stucky. It is, what used to be a rarity in Venice, a restaurant that offers really good cooking. Pricey, but worth it.
Andrea Palladio's Church of the Redentore, a large, white building with a dome crowned by a statue of the Redeemer is sited on the island Giudecca. From the distance, the temple front facade stands as the front layer, behind which the higher roofs of the nave culminate in the dome and its lantern.
Every year in the past, the doge and senators walked across a specially constructed pontoon bridge from the Zattere to Giudecca to attend Mass.
Mulino Stucky, the former Flourmill, now Hotel Hilton seems to be in a rather remote location, on the far west end of the island, where there is not too much activity in comparison to Venice. Staying there would be a little like going to the Ball, but having to stand outside and watch through a window as the orchestra plays.
After getting off at San Zaccaria and walking along Riva degli Schiavoni, the high-rent strip of hotels facing the lagoon, to San Marco you can admire the most celebrated hotels in Venice. Double rooms cost upwards of €300 (low season) or €700 (high season), but the hotels have a loyal following among guests who can afford luxury. The Danieli is especially popular with wealthy Americans; I once was told by a friend, he saw a dapper guest in a Western suit, Stetson hat, and cowboy boots emerge from the Danieli.
Favorite thing: In Venice the waterways are the streets and take the place of what most land locked cities think of as side streets or alleyways. This "small" canal gives access to many homes and you can see the boats moored at the "car park" infront of the homes. Many of them give direct access to the home from the boat, you step out of the boat into the house....
Favorite thing: We saw this beautiful pinkish-maroon colored house, it seems that nobody could find white paint here in Venice, although many of the colors are earthen types they are almost all different and livens the streets up. The small wooden bridge on the left was under repairs and a steel bridge had been built over it. I hope that they do not plan to replace it with a more modern structure.
Okay, so Venice is the city of canals, but it is also a city with laws and one of them is in plain sight here, this canal is a ONE WAY canal, the water only flows one way...
And if you believe that I have a deal for you, the London Bridge is going cheap ^O^.
But seriously the canal here is narrow and many of the boats would not be able to pass each other, so it is restricted to one way, just like with us landlubbers.
Favorite thing: This is how you see the grand canal from the waterbus. It still amazes me to think that all of the buildings we see here are residences where people live and their "front door" opens directly onto a pier and their boat, no access roads, alleys or highways, not at least on dry land.
Favorite thing: The canals range in size from the Grand Canal to little tiny things that only one single small boat can squeeze through, this one is somwhere in the middle size, but it runs perfectly straight, which was very unusual, most of the streets are squiggly, jogging, doglegging or wiggling from point to point.
Favorite thing: As you can see, the sentence "leave your car on the street" has a new connotation here in Venice. This is one of the small "side" streets and you have people "parking" their cars (read boats) outside the door to their homes. Notice the laundry hanging over the street, you feel right at home here.
Although we had only one day to spend in Venice I really did want to cruise along the canals and this we did. I took lots of photographs of which this is one. We did pay our tour agent quite an amount for this but you can do exactly the same thing, using the local vaporettas (I am not sure of the spelling) and this is not expensive.
However rmuch you pay it really is well worth it.
Fondest memory: Apart from cruising along the canals I think my best memory is when we actually walked into St. Mark's Square - the atmosphere almost hits you!