Day 1. A morning in Treviso then onto Venice

It was an early start to the day as our Ryanair flight to Italy’s Treviso airport was departing from Leeds Bradford airport at 06.40 am.  The upside of this being that we were enjoying coffee and croissants in Piazza dei Signori (Treviso’s main square) at 10.30 am.   The town centre is only two miles from the airport and buses leave frequently from outside the arrivals hall.

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Treviso, Italy
Most tourists flying into Treviso Airport head straight for Venice, but unless time is at a premium, it’s a mistake as Treviso is a hidden gem, an historic town with Rennaissance squares interspersed with narrow canals.

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Treviso’s waterways
The walled town has cobbled streets with stone arch passageways leading to shops and cafes.  Treviso’s main shopping street,  Via Calmaggiore has some interesting shops and the overall feel of the town is one of prosperity.     We visited the Duomo (cathedral) and spent a pleasant couple of hours just wandering along the narrow canal lined lanes admiring the views.

A little later we took the train into Venice, the latter part of the journey being very scenic as we crossed the long bridge towards the centre of Venice.  It’s a few years since I was last here, and then it was just on a day trip from Lake Garda where we had been staying.

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Main square, Treviso
 It’s still a breathtaking sight to walk out of Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station to be greeted with the Grand Canal and its water traffic, in front of us.  We’d booked an apartment and arranged to meet the owner at the Academia Vaporetto station and as we were early and our bags weren’t too heavy, we decided to walk.  We stopped frequently to take photographs, the views seemingly improving at every turn.

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Grand Canal, Venice
As arranged, Victoria was there to meet us at Academia and showed us to our apartment which was just as well, as it was hidden away down a narrow alley.  We had the upper two floors of an old building.  It was surprisingly spacious inside with canal views from the roof terrace of our top floor roof balcony.

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Grand Canal, Venice
We soon discovered that we were staying in a very smart and peaceful neighbourhood with its own canals and brightly painted buildings,  away from the hordes of day trippers at St Mark’s Square yet not very far away for when we wanted to go there.  The remainder of the day was spent walking around,  looking at life in this city of waterways.

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Day 2. Riding along Venice’s Grand Canal

 Our first task after breakfast was to walk around to the Academia Vaporetto station and buy tickets (72 hour passes) for unlimited travel on the water buses.  Our accommodation lies midway between two routes, Academia and Zattere giving us plenty of options.

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Near our apartment in Venice
It was so lovely taking to the water and riding along the Grand Canal, and better still when we managed to get outdoor seats.   We visited all the main sights, starting off at the Rialto bridge.  This has been a pedestrian crossing between the two banks of the Grand Canal since 1590. The rows of covered arches supporting it house two markets, the Erberia selling fruit and vegetables and the Pescheria for fresh fish.   It was then onto St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) where we visited the Basilica de San Marco.  Admission to the Basilica is free, there was a lengthy queue when we visited (probably most of the time) but it moved very quickly and we were soon inside the church.  We then explored the piazza with its expensive bars and restaurants under the stone arches surrounding it.

It was back on a Vaporetto once again for a visit to Isola di San Georgio.  From here there are excellent views looking back across the Grand Canal to the Doges Palace.

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Rialto Bridge, Venice
Afterwards we just wandered along the narrow cobbled lanes with their own small waterways finding hidden gems of piazzas away from the main tourist areas.  It began raining but it didn’t really matter, we were enjoying ourselves so much soaking up the Venetian atmosphere.

Day 3. The Venice Lido

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Water buses on the Grand Canal, Venice
It was raining this morning, but with umbrellas at the ready we took the water bus out to the Lido (Lido de Venezia).  It’s very different out here as there are roads and cars, so the magic of Venice with its canals and gondolas is lost.  It’s a barrier island separating the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.

Via Santa Maria Elisabetta, the main road through the Lido links the Vaporetto Station all the way to the entrance to the public beach on the other side of the Lido, facing the Adriatic.  Along this road are the usual tourist cafes, gift shops and gelaterias.  On reaching the beach, the entrance way features a large dome structure.  The downward staircase leads onto the beach whilst the upper, elevated walkway leads out towards the sea.

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The Lido beach and walkway
Before returning to the centre we took a look at the Grand Hotel des Bains built in 1900 in the Belle Époque style with Palladian inspired collonades and where the film, Death in Venice was filmed.

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Taking shelter on the Gondola ferry crossing
It was then back to the Venetian lagoon for lunch and an afternoon of walking along tiny cobbled lanes with their own narrow waterways.  The rain continued to fall but as can be seen from the photos, the gondola trips still went ahead as planned!

Day 4. A Vaporetto ride to Murano and Burano

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Murano, Italy
It was raining once again at breakfast time but we still decided to visit the outlying islands of Murano and Burano as planned.  On arrival in Murano we headed indoors to the famous glass factory where we were just in time to watch a glass blowing demonstration and then look round the factory shop.

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Burano
Sheltering under umbrellas we walked along the narrow cobbled pathways beside the canals.  The small shops here had mullioned glass windows and we admired the glass ornaments and vases on display.    It was then a short wait at the water bus stop for the Vaporetto to Burano, famous for its lace making.

Unfortunately as we arrived here the rain became much heavier but with our hoods up as well as our umbrellas we plodded on.  Our spirits being raised with the brightly coloured cottages along the banks of the canals and the shops filled with exquisite lace cloths.  After tea and cakes in a quaint little tea shop it was back to Venice on a direct service water bus.

On our return, we called in our nearest supermarket, Billa, overlooking a canal for pizza and wine as we planned to eat in our apartment tonight.

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Billa our nearest supermarket in a beautiful setting

Day 5 and 6. Our final day in Venice

Day 5:  After two rainy days, we woke to bright sunshine and were able to enjoy breakfast sitting out on our roof terrace.  The plan was to explore the very attractive neighbourhood between the Vaporetto stations of Zattere and Academia where we were staying.

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Near our apartment in Venice
The long, wide waterfront promenade of Zattere, away from the hordes of tourists is relatively quiet but well worth a visit.  Frequented mostly by locals, there are plenty of inviting cafes and bars along its waterfront, most of them charging far less than in the tourist hotspots of St. Marks Square and Rialto.

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The Grand Canal
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One of the smaller canals
The warren of quiet streets, with their fair share of museums and churches were waiting to be explored.  We strolled along,  crossing over the Academica bridge to the far bank of the Grand Canal from where we had splendid views back to St. Mark’s Square and The Doges Palace.  A couple of cruise liners passed by on their way out to the Adriatic Sea, they looked enormous alongside the waterbuses and other small boats plying the canals.   At dusk it was time for our final ride on the Grand Canal, viewing the Rialto Bridge looking beautiful illuminated at night, and a look in the small shops beneath the columns of the bridge.   With so many narrow lanes and tiny squares there’s always something new to explore in this beautiful city.

Day 6:  Our final morning and we had to be up bright and early as we needed to return to Treviso for our mid morning flight.  We caught the first Vaporetto of the morning to Venice’s main bus station where the Ryanair shuttle bus was waiting to take us back to the airport, the journey only taking 45 minutes.

It’s been a lovely few days here in Venice, and we discovered it’s so much better to stay a few days rather than visit on a day trip.

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St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice
It enabled us to gain a much better feel for the place and we were able to escape the hordes of tourists most of the time.  Yes, it is expensive, but there are plenty of good quality apartments about, and by shopping for food at the local Billa supermarket, we ate (and drank) well, with local produce and little time and effort on our part.

If you have enjoyed reading this series of posts on Venice you may also enjoy reading the following:

Bergamo

Florence