More than adequately summarised by Breakfast at Tiffany’s novelist Truman Capote, Venice is a city unlike any other. It is visually stunning, delicious… but it certainly doesn’t make you feel sick after too much of it! It is most definitely my favourite place I have ever travelled to, visiting for the first time in March 2018 and then again in September 2019, I couldn’t stay away. And if not for the pandemic, I would have without a doubt been there again this Christmas just gone.
It is rare to find a city, a busy and tourist-laden one at that, that looks just as dreamy in person as it comes across in photos. Canals swirl around the concrete streets and alleys, and in minutes you can find yourself straying from the beaten track. This is the best way to experience Venice, and the only way to find its authentic and romantic nature, steering clear of the souvenir shops that dominate St Marks’.
The first time I visited I was mesmerised, and equally so the second, but now more familiar I could think about taking some photos of the idyllic and surreal scenery as I made my way around the streets that felt like home (I later found out through my family that my paternal heritage is from the Venice area, go figure).
I hope these following photos encapsulate the true Pinterest mood board, dream-like, peaceful nature that Venice emulates.
I had to include this one first and foremost. This was the view from Heathrow Terminal 5 at the unholy hour of 5am, ready for our early morning flight. Doesn’t it feel so strange to see everyone sat so close together, rushing around! How I miss flying. Fingers crossed for a more normal 2021.
This was a photo taken minutes after arriving at the hotel on Giudecca, towards the south of the main island in the Venetian Lagoon.
The Bauer Palladio is just as grand as it sounds. We were encouraged to relax on a garden lounger while the porter escorted our bags to our room, and in the balmy September warmth the vivacity of the blue sky and green grass sandwiching the pale building just made for a glorious snap.
Fun fact: this image now sits on the living room wall in my family home as a canvas, what a compliment! This panoramic shot was taken atop the roof terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store on the Grand Canal, totally free to visit but booking is essential! You have around 15 minutes of photo opportunity, and I definitely recommend visiting in the late afternoon/evening to nab some sunset shots.
Overlooking the water stretching between the main island of Venice and the reception hall of the Bauer Palladio. The hotel has a sister, the Palazzo, mere metres away and operates an inclusive shuttle boat every 15 minutes or so from Giudecca to the hotel on the main island. I think this is fantastic, staying on Giudecca allowed us to experience even more than the average visitor, including the many shops, cafés and restaurants it boasts, as well as the grand Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, a stunning Roman Catholic church inside and out. This view was one of my favourite things about mornings in Venice.
Having arrived on the Saturday, a day and a half of shopping, walking and general swanning was just the right amount to have before introducing some culture. We booked and enjoyed an island boat tour, travelling to Murano (the infamous glass-blowing island), Burano (the most colourful place I have ever witnessed) and Torcello (a rather small, sombre place). The first stop was Murano and we witnessed some true craftsmanship in the form of glass blowing, a tradition that has been kept alive for hundreds of years, although they say that they worry the younger generation might not be interested in carrying it on. I had to be extra cautious in this gift shop, as you can imagine.
I’m not sure the previous two photos do justice to the intense colours that came alive on the island of Burano. This was the next stop on the trip and it truly was unforgettable. We stopped for a cappuccino (of course) and chatted about how the reason the houses are painted all different, bright colours is because it was a fishing village – the drunken sailors and fishermen needed some way to differentiate their houses when returning home.
After returning and having a quick outfit change before dinner, we were greeted with this Savannah-like sunset stretching across the skyline. Church bells were tolling, the air was warm and it was the cherry on the top of a remarkable day.
We stepped onto the shuttle boat to cross over for dinner on the main island and I snapped this view of the Bauer Palazzo inching away from us. In hindsight I wish I had moved so that rail wasn’t in the shot but the waters were so choppy, I wasn’t going to risk flying overboard. I feel that this photo encapsulates the warm, dreamy movie-like feeling that surrounds you in Venice.
Just along from the sister hotel is this accumulation of gondoliers. It was our final full day and the way the sunlight made the water sparkle was too ethereal not to capture.
There’s something about this photo I absolutely adore and I don’t quite know why. I think it might just be the mixture of colour and composition, the ornate railings and the lady in the background assuming her daily business. This was taken as we ventured north, above San Marco, through the Santa Maria Formosa square and into the districts of Castello and Cannaregio. I would love to say we were in search of an art museum or something equally cultural, but we were on the hunt for Aperol Spritz and cicchetti.
Last but not least is the amazing Libreria Acqua Alta, an infamous bookshop home to gondolas, stacks of titles and even some cats that live there full time! Who would have thought it. Although, surprisingly, on the main island of Venice there are wide expanses of squares and parks. Plenty of canals but definitely more solid ground than you may think. This bookshop was a dream, I purchased a few postcards as a memento and spent a long time just browsing through all the piles.
It was a joy to relive this trip through writing about the meaning behind the photos that gave me an experience I will never forget. Venice, spero di vederti presto.