Italy. Wow. 14 days, 4 towns, limitless pasta, pizza, cheese & vino. 4 remarkably different areas, each with its own unique culture, style of food & landscape.
I’ve spent days, weeks, months planning this Italy trips. Painstakingly researching each and every place we’re visiting, tours we’re doing and restaurants we’re eating at (and lets be honest, stalking the geotag on Instagram).
This was not my first trip to Italy or even to Rome/Venice/Florence. Amalfi Coast was totally new. I was lucky enough to travel with my parents and sister some 10 years back. That trip was a panoramic Euro-trip where we went to 5/6 countries and spent about 5-6 days in Italy (the longest in any one country). That vacation was great in giving us an overview of Europe, and in figuring out what places we loved most – so we could come back! Since I had a taste of Italy already, I had more clarity on what I wanted to focus on this trip.
Italy Vacation Itinerary in 4 parts
Since this series is going to be super long, I split up my report into 4 parts.
Part 1: 2 Days in Venice (this Post)
Other Helpful Italy Vacation Resources
I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful other people’s personal blog posts about their own Italy vacation, their itineraries and recommendations were. I scoured the interwebs for Italy travel blog posts written by photographers, lifestyle bloggers, everyone. And I think it’s only fair that I give back to this amazing pool of documented ideas and experiences by writing about my own.
First off though I’d like to mention Kate’s blog posts on her 3 week Italy holiday back in 2016. I’ve been very inspired by her trip and I read (and re-read, and re-re-read) her blog posts multiple times for tips and ideas (and photo spots!!). Make sure you check these posts out if you’re planning a trip to Italy.
I also want to say thank you to Veronica of Pro Vans Tours who gave me some amazing food recommendations. If you are planning a trip to Provence (and if you’re not, what are you waiting for?!), you HAVE TO book a tour with Pro Vans – it was my favourite day in our 2 week holiday in France last summer!
A word about our travel style:
Before diving in, I’d like to give a “disclaimer” of sorts about our travel style. We are not the kind of travellers who want to pack in every single monument / sight seeing opportunity. We love to prioritise food & local experiences. We like immersing ourselves in the local culture, and prefer staying away from crowds in general, even if that means giving some “must see / must do” things a miss.
For me personally, taking good photographs of the places we are in, and of ourselves in those places (environmental portraits) is important. So I try to go to places where I know I can get good photos for our family albums.
Venice Itinerary: Spending 2 Days in Venice | Where to Stay & What to Do
We landed in Venice at about 3 pm on our first day there.
The transfer from the airport to your accommodation (if you are staying on the island – which I suppose most tourists do) involves taking a water boat most the time.
Getting from Venice Airport to Venice Islands
The options are the local Alilaguna “water bus” which is literally the local public transport bus-equivalent of Venice or a Shared Private Taxi or a Private Taxi. The two kinds of private taxis are usually on smaller boats and I think those might make sense for a largish group. But for a couple, it was not too cheap. The Alilaguna is very basic, and while most of the boats are covered from all sides, we got to take a smaller boat (because there were fewer people who wanted to take our line at that time) with amazing views! So we kind of lucked out a little with the Alilaguna sitch – either way, it’s totally worth it.
Net net, I recommend the Alilaguna if budget is at all a consideration, otherwise, go with the water taxis!
Rialto Bridge Area
We chose to stay in one of the busiest and most touristy areas of Venice – Rialto. Our Airbnb was very well located (just a 2 minute walk from the Rialto Vaporretto stop) and within walking distance from everywhere.
We absolutely loved our little Airbnb which had all the essentials for our short two night stay. It looked like a newly renovated property and it was total value for Venice considering the prime spot it was located in. It didn’t have a “canal view” but I didn’t really need one. We spent almost all our time outside, so there were plenty of canal views to be enjoyed!
On our first evening in Venice, we just walked out and around the Rialto area first.
The area around Rialto gives you amazing views of the Grand Canal of Venice. Close to sunset, you can see hundreds of tourists packed on the bridge, wanting to get their perfect selfies. We just climbed the bridge when we had to cross it. I thought views around the area were much nicer. Just walk around a little, and you’ll find stunning views all around.
This area is also jam packed with tourists, tourist shops, restaurants and is generally very busy. I loved the busy vibes for when we would return from other spots in Venice but I wouldn’t recommend rationing too much time for this area. Just spending a few minutes here is enough. You can even give this area a skip if you are one of the rare species of people who don’t suffer from FOMO, ha!
One of the things which is unique of the Venetian region is Cicchetti culture. Cicchetti is nothing but Venetian tapas. They are tiny little snacks / appetisers which you can buy single pieces of at a bar like place (cicchetteria). Come apertivo time and you’ll find tons of cicchetteria buzzing with activity inside and outside.
After wandering around the Rialto area, we went to one such Cicchetteria where I enjoyed my first Aperol Spritz (which seems to be the national drink of Italy after wine) and Yaman had a beer. We had some cicchetti along with our drinks – which were strictly okay. I don’t eat most meats (just chicken) so I went with some fried chicken skewers, fried cheese balls (you notice a theme, right?) and a mushroom puff kind of thing. The vibe of the place was great though – music was lovely, and we could spend a good amount of time just sitting, sipping on our drinks and people watching.
After cicchetti, we got back to our apartment thinking we’d relax for a bit, grab some water and head out for dinner. But, not having gotten proper sleep the previous night got the better of me and I fell asleep thinking I’d just lie down for a nap – only to wake up at 6 am the next morning, ha!
Free Walking Tour of Venice & Cannaregio Area
Next morning we had a tour booked with Venice Free Walking Tour at 9 am.
We had selected the tour which started at Campo Della Fava and took us through the lesser known areas of Venice – steering clear of touristy spots like San Marco. We were a little early at our meeting point, so we went to the nearest cafe to grab a quick bite – which turned out to be my favourite food place in Venice! If you’re in the area, don’t miss Farini Cafe – their baked goods and pizzas are divine!
If you are planning a trip to Venice, I highly recommend booking this walking tour. It was a lovely couple of hours spent with a local guide who told us all about the history of Venice, and little known facts which we might have otherwise missed. He also took us through gorgeous areas in Cannaregio – which were amazing for photos. The light was gorgeous and I managed to sneak in quite a few photos even though this wasn’t a “photo walk”.
Free walks like these operate on tips and the standard tip is about 15-30 Euros per couple when we travelled. Of course some give less, some more, but this seemed to be the general range. Totally worth it in my view.
Acqua Alta and San Marco Area
After our walking tour ended at about 11:30 am, we headed to the most famous bookstore in Venice – which even has a wall (and even a staircase) made of real books. Totally kitchy and worth a peek – you can also pick up unique postcards from here. I did, and I’m so glad about that!
Then we headed to the famous (and crazy packed) San Marco square. We took in the views of the gorgeous architecture around, but we didn’t really feel like going inside either the basilica or Doge Palace, so we just walked around the area and then moved on.
If you plan to spend more time here, it’s probably worth it to purchase some skip the line tickets in advance – as it looked massively packed with tourists wanting to enter.
Dorsoduro-Zattere Area of Venice
It was only about 1 pm and we had already covered quite a lot of ground in Venice. It truly is a tiny and totally walkable town. Best enjoyed on foot in my view.
After San Marco, we thought we’d head towards Dorsoduro as it’s supposed to be gorgeous and is home to many authentic (and non-touristy) restaurants – our walking tour guide had blessed this area.
Dorsoduro is probably the prettiest area of Venice that we visited. If you are looking for pastel coloured building with floral drops and dreamy bridges over canals (you’ll find all of this all over Venice to be honest), come to Dorsoduro. You’ll truly be able to enjoy Venice’s charm without all the crowds – and trust me, that made a huge difference to our experience. This was not my first time in Venice, but I enjoyed it a little more than the last because we spent more time in thinly populated areas, with great weather and with the liberty to stop and take photos wherever we wished (major advantage of crowd free areas!).
After walking around a little, we chanced upon a cosy looking osteria called Al Vecio Maragnon. It seemed to only have locals at the time, so we thought we’d give it a try – and I’m so glad we did! Food was fresh and amazing, and service friendly and polite. More on food in this post.
One of the most remarkable areas of this area is the major waterfront which runs from Zattere down to the Santa Maria Church. Walking around this gorgeous promenade really made my heart very happy. I felt super inspired and recharged, just taking in the beautiful sights and enjoying the cool summer breeze. I highly recommend walking down this quiet and stunning promenade!
After a bit of walking around, we decided to sit down at a little nook next to a canal which had nobody but us. We tore open a bag of chips and some drinks while my husband read his book and I sketched a little. I only looked up to watch gondolas moving past us. This was a tiny canal so no motor boats to disturb us – a truly idyllic scene which we chanced upon, totally unplanned!
Getting to Venice Train Station
The next morning we had a train to Florence from Venice’s Santa Lucia train station. We hasn’t really booked any ferry tickets and didn’t feel like “figuring it out” that time, so we just decided to walk from Rialto to the station! It wasn’t bad, actually. Took about 25 minutes. Note that there are a bunch of bridges with stairs which need to be navigated (could be annoying with luggage), but nothing too daunting!
Venice Quick Round Up:
Stayed At: This Airbnb
Favourite Eats: Farini Cafe, Vecchi Maragnon
Favourite Sighs/ Experiences: Free Venice Walking Tour, Dorsoduro-Zattere
Here’s the Rest of our Italy Vacation:
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