we passed three days in Venice, two touring the city and the third visiting the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. To begin, I will describe what we saw and did on the first day. Get ready friend reader, because it was a very complete day.
Everyone agrees that the Serenísima is a beautiful, magical place, where every corner seems taken from a postcard. So that morning we were very excited to finally explore the capital of Veneto and check with our own eyes if that legend was true. After a good rest and a good breakfast at the hotel Best Western Santa Helena, thanks to Expedia.co.uk, we began to walk along the promenade of the south coast, in the direction of San Marcos square.
Entrance to the Arsenale
However, we wanted to get involved in the city, so very soon we left the promenade by the bay and went into the streets of the Santa Helena neighborhood. We were struck by an outdoor exhibition of the Biennale, called «Museum of everything». We walked around a florist transformed into a museum and continued on until we reached Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, where there were people shopping at fish and vegetable stalls. We liked seeing Venetians shopping and seeing neighborhood life in such an extremely tourist city.
We return to the bay to enter the city in again by the Rio dell'Arsenale, a very quiet and wide road that leads to the monumental entrance of the Venice shipyard. The huge stone lions watch that no one enters what was the most powerful ship factory in the Mediterranean. In 1570, the shipyard was so optimized in the Arsenale, that it could produce a war galley in just one day.
We continue through lovely streets, full of canals and bridges, until we arrive without having anticipated too much before the church of Santi Giovanni e Páolo, Next to the Scuola di San Marco. Since it was very sunny, we decided to stop and take the first ice cream of the trip. Time stopped while we watched the church square, with a canal next to where we saw the first gondolas pass. A very friendly Venetian lord approached us to tell us several things about the buildings that stood before us: the Scuola di San Marco is actually a hospital, the Ospedale Civile di Venecia, originally a brotherhood of charity dedicated to the needy. Next to it, the familiarly named church of San Zanipolo, contains the elaborate tombs of several doge or Venetian Dukes. There is no doubt that in Venice there is art everywhere. In fact, this city not only contains works of art, but it has been the muse of countless artists from all fields, from composers like Wagner to writers like Henry James.
We continue exploring the city of canals, eager for more surprises. Thus, almost without realizing it, we arrived at a very tourist point: the Rialto bridge. At noon on a Saturday this bridge was an anthill of tourists, all taking pictures, and it was overwhelming, so we walked away cautiously. However, there were hordes of tourists flooding everything. Anyway, we decided to go with the flow and went to the St. Mark's Square. In the center of the city we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the basilica, by the height of the Campanile, by the art of the Ducal Palace, by the details of the Torre dell'Orologio and by the views of the bay. We couldn't do it anymore, so we sat on the steps of the galleries and enjoyed the show.
That afternoon we did one of the activities of the web of Expedia: a visit with a native guide plus a gondola ride. In front of the tourist office we were given a aparatejo of those with headphones to listen to the guide without having to shout. After a few minutes, we were already following Barbara, a Venetian from San Polo who was telling us very interesting details of the city and took us to corners that we might not have found ourselves. We learned, for example, that in the past there were fewer cobbled streets on the islets that make up Venice.
St Mark's Basilica
The guide took us through streets that were created after covering up areas of water, and that is why they are called swimming pool instead of via. Another type of street is the terra river, once channels that are now pedestrian paths. He also told us details of La Fenice Grand Theater and led us to see the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, with its striking exterior staircase. The tour ended with a 30-minute gondola ride We share with two other people. Although we were not exactly alone on the canals, and although it was midday, we liked it very much. Going by gondola allows you to see the city from a very different perspective and reach places that would otherwise be impossible. The Visit Discover Venice and Gondola Ride It cost us 39 euros per person.