three days in venice
After being on Jaime’s bucket list for almost 15 years, we finally made it to Venice! Venice seems like a city out of a fairytale. It’s a city on water and is, unfortunately, sinking at a rate of 1-2mm a year. Venice has 471 bridges (72 are private), 350 gondolas, and 177 canals. Venice is also home to the beloved spritz and the greeting “ciao”.
It was our first time traveling since the start of COVID19. Knowing that nothing is operating normally, we traveled with no real plans: no restaurant reservations, no museum tickets, and no planned excursions. Due to the current travel restrictions, there were very few travelers so it was fairly easy to maintain social distancing. Venice was filled with breathtaking canals and delicious seafood.
Train from Rome to Venice
You can drive, fly, or take the train to Venice. Because cars are only allowed on a very small portion of the island we recommend taking the train into the city if you’re located north of Rome. We always book our train tickets on omio.com. The Omio app provides a seamless booking experience and there’s no need to print or validate the tickets before boarding — just open the app on your phone, pull up your ticket, and hand it to the conductor. The train ride from Rome to Venice is 3.5 hours compared to a 5.5-hour drive. The seats on the train are assigned upon booking which helps enforce social distancing.
Vaporetto – Water Buses
Water buses are exactly what they sound like — they’re small ferries called vaporetto that operate as buses on the main canals. Public transportation is really expensive in Venice when compared to other Italian cities. One ticket for the vaporetto costs €7,50 and is good for 75 minutes. If you plan to visit the other islands or don’t want to rely on walking to get everywhere, we recommend purchasing a water bus pass. You can purchase a water bus pass for 24 hours, 2 days, 3 days, or 1 week. There is a heavily discounted 3-day pass if you’re 6-29 years old. Make sure to provide an ID to qualify for the discount.
If you want something more private and direct, the water taxis are another option. They can hold up to 10 people and are quicker than public transportation, but they are quite expensive starting at €30-40. If you’re traveling with a group, it actually may be more cost-effective to take water taxis when needed.
$80/night – 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment
The apartment was near Campo Santa Maria, a 10-minute walk to the Rialto bridge, and a 25-minute walk from the train station. Venice is a small island (you could walk from one end to the other in an hour), so although we weren’t in the heart of the city, it was a short walk to all the places we went and our neighborhood wasn’t crowded or noisy. I love staying at apartments because they’re spacious and I love having a kitchen available. Even more so with COVID19, having an apartment means we’re not constantly walking through lobbies or other spaces shared with lots of people. The apartment was fully equipped, had a great kitchen, and had a great view of the canals. We would stay here again.
There are 118 islands in Venice and the most popular of them are Burano, Murano, and Torcello. We took the ferry to Burano and Murano for a day trip. If you purchase a water bus pass, the pass is also valid on the ferries to the other islands.
Burano is famous for its lace and colorful houses. Legend has it that the houses were painted such bright and contrasting colors so the fishermen could see their houses while they were out on the water during foggy conditions. Historically, the residents of Burano have consisted mostly of fishermen and farmers and still remains that way today. Burano is also known for its beautiful and very intricate lace. The first Burano lace can be traced back to the 1500s. There’s also a museum on the island you can visit. You can read more about the history of lace in Burano here. If you don’t have time or aren’t interested in the museum, Burano is still worth the trip from the main island. The island is absolutely beautiful and definitely one of the dreamiest fishing islands in Venice.
Murano is well known for its glass making. Due to the dangerous nature of creating glass, all furnaces for glass making were moved to Murano by the Serenissima Republic of Venice in 1295. Moving all glass making to the island of Murano was also an attempt to control and prevent knowledge of glassmaking techniques from being distributed. On the island, you can find jewelry, drinkware, home furnishings, and more made out of glass. Not all vendors sell authentic Murano glass, so make sure to do your research if you plan on purchasing souvenirs. There’s also a glass blowing museum in Murano to learn more about the history. We left Venice early in the morning, took the 20-minute ferry to Murano, walked around, had lunch, and then took the 35-minute ferry to Burano. One day is enough time to explore both islands if you leave for Murano early enough, although you can’t go wrong with staying the night on the islands either.
FOOD & DRINKS
Venice Train Station
If you’re looking for a cheap snack to hold you over until your next meal, don’t pass up train and gas station foods. If you’re from America, maybe your eyes are bulging out of your head because you’re thinking of 7-Eleven, but the train and gas station foods in Italy are nothing like that. There is no comparison. Pastries aren’t fresh, but we’ve never been disappointed by a pastry, pizza, or sandwich when we need something quick and on the go. The prices were more expensive than what we’ve paid in most other areas of Italy, but that seemed to be the norm for Venice overall.
Antica Osteria Ruga Rialto
The restaurant had ample seating inside and outside. Because there were very few customers, we opted to sit inside to hide out from the sun for a bit. We had spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and they were fresh and delicious. Spaghetti alle vongole is made with garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper, and clams. Simple, but delicious!
SUSO uses only the best ingredients and doesn’t use artificial colorants or flavors to offer the most natural product. You’ll find a variety of flavors and they also have vegan options. We had mango & grapefruit, watermelon, and mixed berry gelato.
We had dinner at La Zucca, a very popular restaurant in Venice. Their menu specializes in mostly vegetarian dishes. We started with a trio of spreads: hummus, tzatziki, and an avocado and tofu mash. Jaime had zucchini and eggplant lasagna which was amazing! One of their signature dishes is their savory pumpkin flan. I was a bit unsure of exactly what a savory pumpkin flan would be like, so I had to try it and it was delicious. It had a very similar consistency to pumpkin pie with a wonderful, savory flavor.
Osteria al Duomo
We took a ferry to Murano and had lunch at Osteria al Duomo while we were there. We had the softest buffalo mozzarella in our caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil), Jaime had his favorite, a margarita pizza, and I had the best seafood pasta I’ve ever had. My seafood pasta was filled with shrimp, calamari, mussels, and clams. They have a beautiful garden in the back that was perfect for outdoor seating and social distancing.
Al Timon is a very popular steak restaurant amongst travelers and locals and is located in Venice’s Jewish ghetto. If you’re not hungry enough for dinner, they’re also well known for their tapas, called cicchetti in Venice. Their menu has a few different options, but they’re known for their meat boards. We wanted the picanha (a cut of beef popular in Portugal and Brazil) with chimichurri sauce, vegetables, and fried potatoes, but the steaks they had were too large for two people. We went with the lombatello (hanger steak) with vegetables and fried potatoes and it was delicious. Most of the steaks they have cost €5/hg (hg=100 grams). For the meat board, water, and a bottle of red wine our dinner came out to €90. If you want to eat where all the young locals hangout, anywhere along Fondamenta dei Ormesini is where you want to stop for a meal or aperitivo.
Gelateria Ca’ d’Oro
Gelato is a must no matter where we are and the only reason you don’t see more gelato shops listed is that the other shops we attempted to visit were still closed due to COVID19. We stuck to our favorites: strawberry, mango, coconut, and pistachio. Jaime said it was the best coconut gelato he’s had in Italy.
Ostaria Santa Fosca
We had some time to kill before our train was leaving back to Rome, so we stopped at Ostaria Santa Fosca for some Aperol Spritz. It’s a really cute bar tucked away in a piazza. It was filled with locals who people watched and joked with the neighbors while sipping on Aperol Spritz.
Libreria Acqua Alta
There are lots of famous bookstores around the world and Libreria Acqua Alta is probably one of them. The bookstore is home to 5 cats, funky and unique souvenirs, and books crammed everywhere including a gondola and a bathtub. If you walk to the back, there’s a perfect photo op of a canal at the top of a staircase made out of books.
St. Mark’s Square
St. Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice and it’s where you can find Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, and a grand piazza great for taking pictures.
The Rialto Bridge is Venice’s most famous bridge and spans the grand canal. The bridge itself is grand and beautiful and is a great spot for sunrise and sunset photos.
The word ghetto actually originated in Venice from the word “geto”. Due to political reasons, the Serenissima Republic forced all Jewish people to live and reside here in the early 1500s. The Venetian Ghetto is the oldest Jewish ghetto in Europe. The Jewish ghetto remains the center of Jewish life in the city today.
Bridge of Sighs
While a small bridge in comparison to many others in Venice, the Bridge of Signs is an important historic landmark. The Bridge of Sighs connects the Prigioni Nuove to Doge’s Palace and legend has it that when criminals were taken over the bridge, they would savor one last glimpse of Venice and sigh before their imprisonment.
Usually, our trips are filled with museum tours and walking tours. Due to COVID19, we didn’t make any reservations and spent our time walking around the city, capturing the beauty of Venice, and we might’ve drunk our weight in Aperol Spritz and wine.