The country of Italy is a love of mine. Maybe because it’s part of my heritage or maybe its just the food! I spent time in Italy on my honeymoon years ago and since we’ve been living abroad we’ve revisited Rome and the Amalfi Coast and have experienced Lake Como for the first time. We just seem to keep feeling the pull of this beautiful country. It’s like a magnet.
We recently returned from a long weekend in one of Italy’s most romantic cities, to my mind. We spent three days in Venice. People seem to flock there during more the warmer months, but going at an off time was fabulous as it was far less crowded. The city gets about 20 million tourists each year.
The temperature was mild for our February escape. We did have one day of rain that caused flooding and cost us of nearly a day of touring….hence the title of this post. We’re now planning our return visit to finish what we didn’t get to see the first time around! But we were determined not to let the weather ruin the rest of our time in Venice and so we dodged the puddles and set out to take in all the city has to offer.
How To Spend Three Days In Venice
Walk and Wander
There is nothing better than swanning about Venice, getting lost in the city’s twists and turns and endless bridges.
It makes for an outstanding adventure. We discovered great restaurants and little boutiques tucked away in its tangle of tiny, hidden streets.
And as stunning Venice is during the day it’s especially magical when the sun goes down and the city is aglow.
Venice also has instagrammable spots in spades such as Cafe Florian and
Libreria Acqua Alta, the bookshop that houses books in a gondola spanning nearly the length of the shop!
Go For a Gondola Ride
Is the gondola ride on nearly every overrated European experience list? Admittedly, yes. Should you do it, anyway? Yes. Absolutely. It’s only something that will likely happen once so go for it. It’s a great way to see how the city functions from a different perspective. We found the best time to take a ride is first thing in the morning as the canals aren’t crowded yet and the ride feels leisurely and peaceful. But at night I’m sure it would be especially romantic. Gondolas are strewn all throughout the various smaller waterways as well as along the very busy Grand Canal.
Visit San Marco Square and Saint Mark’s Basilica
By mid-day, San Marco Square and the basilica are both full of tourists. But if visited earlier in the morning or later in the evening the square is just beautiful. Particularly so when the basilica is lit up.
View Bridge of Sighs
Built in the 17th century and often regarded as the most beautiful bridge in Venice, this enclosed space is the stuff of legend. It’s said that prisoners got their last view of Venice (and freedom!) walking through it to the Prigioni (a prison) on the way to their cell.
Explore The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
This gallery exhibiting some of the greatest artists of the 20th century is not to be missed. Located along the Grand Canal in the sestiere (a neighborhood in Venice. There are six sestiere in total) of Dorsoduro.
It houses an impressive collection in a space that was Guggenheim’s actual home of 30 years. Works range from artists she had discovered or supported such as Jackson Pollock to Picasso, Dalí and even Andy Warhol.
There’s a sculptural garden and a fantastic long term exhibition belonging to Hannelore and Rudolph Shulman that showcases their collection of postwar art ranging from the end of World War II through to the 1980s.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute
Also located in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is the church in many famed photos of Venice seen on instagram (it can even be found on my account!) When passing by it feels like you’re in a Canaletto piece (we saw a fantastic Caneletto exhibition at in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.)
Visit Murano For Glass Blowing
The island of Murano isn’t very glamorous as its a manufacturing town. But it is known for its beautiful glass and because of that we wanted to experience it.
A word of caution if you choose to visit Murano. While the glass blowing demonstrations are really fun to watch- these are true artisans at work; be forewarned that some studios will offer to take you to their retail shop (no pictures allowed) and can put on a bit of pressure to make a large purchase. We had that experience while we were there but I have a husband that has absolutely no trouble saying no to anyone (except me, of course) so it wasn’t a problem for us. The glass chandeliers, mirrors and sculptures in the studio were truly something to see. We ended up purchasing a lovely set of glasses that are colorful and will remind us of our time in Venice whenever we use them!
Places To Eat In Venice
Wandering the streets, you’ll find all sorts of places to eat in Venice. For seafood lovers, this city is not to be missed. We wanted to try traditional Venetian foods so we ended up at a few places where we were definitely the only tourists…we took it as a favorable sign!
Ristorante Al Giardinetto da Severino
Tucked away on Salizada Zorzi near Santa Maria Formosa, this restaurant serves up typical Venetian cuisine such as sarde in saor and baccala mantecato. They also prepared a tasty steak and chicken milanese, as well.
After visiting The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, we stopped by the Corner Pub for lunch. The sandwiches were amazing. Filled with various Italian hams, cheeses and veg, they were then grilled until melty and delicious. It was the perfect quick lunch to keep us satisfied until dinner.
Club del Doge Restaurant at The Gritti Palace
For the most part we try to explore the local cuisine of a country by going out to seek it but we did eat lunch at the hotel we were staying at on our first day. It was wonderful. Of course it was.
The fried seafood and veg were light and crisp and moreish. There was also a pureed bean soup that was outstanding.
We also tried breakfast there.
Not only does the restaurant have one of the prettiest buffets that I’ve seen, the offerings were fresh, plentiful and heavenly to eat.
Hands down, our favorite meal in Venice was at a beccafico. There was gorgeous warm seafood salad with lemon and grapefruit sauce and crisp fried seafood. And there was incredible stuffed pasta with a beef ragu that was mouthwateringly delicious.
The Best Gelato In Venice
We know good ice cream. We eat it like its our profession. When we travel, we usually eat our way across a city in ice cream. I should probably compile a list at some point to share with all of you. It’s extensive.
There are many places in Venice to get gelato but in my opinion there are two that really shine.
Suso has all the standard flavors plus some unusual ones that are worth trying. I had a Walnut and Fig gelato that was delicious as well as a chocolate with salted pistachio swirled throughout. I’m still thinking about both of them.
Gelato di Natura
The gelato at Gelato di Natura was smooth, creamy and a good as it looks. They, too, had some unusual flavors in additional to the basics. The black cherry was particularly good and I really enjoyed the malaga. Its similar to rum raisin. I have an unhealthy obsession with rum raisin ice cream that has been going on nearly my whole life so this was a nice way to get somewhat of a fix.
Where to Stay in Venice
Staying at The Gritti Palace has been a dream of mine for a long time. A really long time. I had wanted to stay there when we were planning our Parisian/Italian honeymoon 14 years ago but we never ended up going to Venice so my dream was just that for many years. But it was so worth the wait! There’s no questioning why Ernest Hemingway, when in Venice, always returned to The Gritti Palace.
Our suite was cosy and comfortable with a nice sitting area
and luxurious bathroom that housed a soaking tub and separate shower.
But the pièce de résistance was the American king sized bed! It was the real deal. It took up nearly the whole bedroom but it was worth the slight lack of room for a decent bed!
The suite also had two televisions, a desk and ample storage for all of our belongings.
Tips for Getting the Most out of Venice:
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Bring waterproof shoes
- Go for the earliest gondola ride, if possible. If you take an early ride the canals are quiet and peaceful. Or go in the evening but it will cost a bit more.
- Hire a private water taxi to shuttle between the airport and hotel, if possible. This is money well spent. Its a direct ride door to door. It’s not inexpensive but it does save time.
- Go out early before the day trippers arrive…and late, too. The place clears out in the evening and when we were there it felt like we had the whole of Venice to ourselves.
I’m already dreaming about our return to Venice. I still need to visit Burano, Doges Palace and I’d love to visit some textile mills, as well.
Have you ever gone somewhere where you knew you just didn’t have enough time to see everything? Did you return? Share your experience with me below!
Thanks for reading! Cheers!