Visit Venice before it sinks. Because Venice is wonderful. This is an understatement. Venice is an experience which will remain with you forever. We were there for 24 hours in Venice during our Italy tour in December last year. When we read about the news of Venice getting flooded due to high tides two weeks back, our memories of the lovely place got kindled. Yes, visit Venice before it sinks due to global warming.
The best way of inspiring someone to visit Venice is through pictures. Venice is a photogenic city! From the time you get down from the train till you board another to move out, it will fascinates you! The sea, the gondolas, the architecture, the canals, the shopping streets, food……..everything about Venice is wonderful!
Let our Venice story begin……..Click on the pictures to see them in larger size.
We get down from the early morning train from Florence. The Venice railway station is not grand like you will see in Milan. We get out of the railway station to be greeted by cold winds of Venice December weather!
The first wow moment is when you come out of the station and see a canal in from of you! No road but a canal. The famous grand canal! You don’t find any vehicles but only boats! Water taxis, private boats, Venice gondolas and water buses which are public transport! We were given instructions from the hotel which water bus to catch and where to get down. We move to the ticket counters which are just outside the railway station. You can see the water busses – white coloured – standing next to ticket counter in the picture below. You are also greeted by Venetian architecture as you land! Here you can see the dome and the beautiful entrance of San Simeone Piccolo church across the grand canal in front of Railway station.
After buying the tickets we move to our stop to catch the water bus! These stops have hot cabins where people can wait. It is extremely cold and windy. The temperature is around 4 degrees Celsius! We wait for our water bus to arrive which comes in few minutes afters we reach the stop. Poorna comes out of the cabin to click this lovely view of the canal form the boarding point.
The water buses are all air conditioned and it is warm and cozy inside. The boat ride to hotel is one of the memorable part of Venice experience. The ride through grand canal and the sea take us across to our hotel.
As the boat cruise in the cold waters we see many delightful sights. The water bus cruises on the Grand canal, the largest of the canal which cuts Venice into two parts. We see lovely bridges connecting the banks. Poorna tries to go to the deck in the cold windy December to click pictures.
Sacca Fisola stop. Notice the nice cabin which keeps commuters warm in cold winters!
Every angle of the ride is a pleasing sight to the eyes! These bridges are so aesthetically done that they don’t look like bridges but an architectural marvels!
A beautiful building. Venice is known for excellent Gothic architecture.
We cross Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute, one of the iconic monuments of Venice.
Then another spectacular monument – Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
Punta della Dogana, Art gallery and architectural marvel
The bell tower of St Mark’s basilica. 98 metres tall, it stands in one corner of St Mark’s square.
We cut across the lagoon and reach our stop. Our hotel is five minutes walk from here. We are staying in a hotel with a beautiful view of Lagoon. We freshen up and have a quick bite and ready to explore the city. We speak to the front desk of the hotel for a gondola ride. Being season, the rates are high. But we don’t have a choice. If you want to explore the canals of Venice, the only way out is to enjoy the slow moving Venice Gondola ride. This is a one hour ride and it is fascinating.
We walk down to the place where Gondola is anchored. But we could get a glimpse of what in store for next one hour when we see this sight of boat cruising in the canal! Notice a small cafe on the side of the canal! Welcome to Venice!
We have a handsome young gondolier Valentino to take us around. Valentino brings us to the place where he has anchored his Gondola. These Gondolas are very comfortable and luxurious!
We are now ready to cruise……slowly!
The gondola ride is fascinating and must do experience of Venice. You can appreciate the city, its culture, its architecture only when you explore it through its canals. Small bridges connect from one side to the other.
A police station on the banks of the canal
A hearse boat!!
The water ambulance!
A Hotel with its own boat
Many buildings look old and dilapidated. One has to appreciate Venetians who wants to provide some colours in front of their houses. These houses are connected to other parts of city only through canals. Invariably many families have their own boats.
A typical house with lovely Gothic design.
After 20 minutes, Valentino start singing an Italian song as he continue to row! Check this out.
Colours of Venice!!
Elegant Ponte dei Sospiri. This bridge connects Doge’s palace (former court room) with prison! Notice the lovely sculptures on the arch.
Waterway signs for boats!
These elegant bridges on canals add to the beauty of the city.
We get down and walk around for a good place to eat lunch. Venice is well known for lovely restaurants and we settle in one of them. The shopping alleys of Venice. The walking and shopping alleys resembles the Alleys of Varanasi
After lunch, we walk along the lagoon to St Mark’s square and beyond. The walk way along the lagoon is lovely. It is wide and has some coffee shops and shops selling other stuff. Our hotel is bang on this spire which is convenient.
Monument of Victor Emmanuelle
St Mark’s square must be one of largest public squares in the world.
The basilica of St Mark. Fantastic example of Gothic architecture. One can enter the basilica and explore the interiors if time permits. But during peak holiday season there will long queues. We did not enter inside. Notice the lovely architecture, paintings on the facade of the church!
Fantastic building of St Mark’s Clocktower. This is still in working condition and the Zodiac dial is something very interesting.
The Panorama shot of St Mark’s square. One of the largest public squares of Europe.
Facade of Doge’s Palace which is now a museum. We did not go inside as there was long queue.
Winged Lion of Venice, the emblem of erstwhile kingdom of Venice on one of the columns in St Marks’s square.
The statue of St Theodore on one the western columns in the St Mark’s square.
Statues of saints and other noble men on Doge’s Palace
The famous bridge across the Grand canal – Ponte di Rialto or Rialto Bridge. You can hire a Gondola for a ride in Grand canal with its superb views. Unfortunately, the Gondolas which are hired elsewhere are not allowed to take tourists into Grand canal. The rates during peak season is just fleecing. We paid 80 Euros for a 45 Minutes ride!
We clicked this on our way back after the Grand canal ride. The area around Rialto Bridge is shoppers paradise known as Rialto Market. The narrow alleys with shops on either side is a pleasure to walk around and explore.
Lastly, Check this picture of Grand Canal taken at night by professional photographer Pedro Zekely and you will appreciate how lovely the place is!!
We return after walking around in cold weather – it was around 4 degree Celsius – and exploring the shopping area of Le Mercerie or the street of merchants! We have an very early morning flight to catch to Zurich and to explore the Glacier express on Swiss Mountain railway!
As we back towards our hotel along the marina, we could see most of the shops closed! It is just 7 PM and the shops and restaurants are downing the shutters. We ask one of the shop owners why do they close so early. He said, it gets very cold and windy at night and not many people visit the place after 7 PM!
We go to one of the restaurants which is still open and have our dinner and return to the room. A day in Venice is worth every minute we spent. We know we did not do justice. But we were lucky to see it when weather was good and water levels were low! And of course we visited Venice before it sinks!
- Venice is a place which require minimum of three days if you want to explore major attractions. For someone really interested to dive deep, then at least a week!
- Venice is a chilled out place! The whole city seems to be thriving on tourism and it gives a relaxed feeling.
- Venice like any other European city is expensive. Especially if you are from India. You should check out this before you plan your Europe travel.
- Venice is a photographers dream. The colours of the city is mind-blowing. The monuments, the sea, the buildings, bridges all makes Venice a dream destination for a photographer.
- Venice has lovely hotels and coffee shops. Sip your coffee looking at slow moving Gondolas in the canal!
- If you are interested in history, museums and architecture you will never be satiated! There is so much to see and explore.
- Since Venice and Rome are two “must see” destinations in Italy, expect heavy rush during peak seasons.
- Venice is a safe city and Italians are extremely friendly. Most of them speak English.
- Wear a good shoe. Venice should be explored by walking. In its alleys.
- If there is a paucity of time, you can book a day trip to explore city better.
There are many questions on Venice like Is Venice sinking? How long Venice will be flooded? Can Venice be saved? We don’t have answer to these questions. Scientists say that Venice may not survive next 50 years if global warming continues.
So, Visit Venice before it sinks. It is a lifetime and memorable experience which you will cherish for ever.
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