Venice Italy | Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco, Gondolas, The Bridge Of Sighs & More

For me, the destinations I love most are also the most difficult to blog about. It's because I feel there is so much pressure to paint a vivid picture of why the place is just so perfect and to try to put into words the experience I had there. Venice Italy is one of those places for me. Hence why it has taken me about 6+ months since traveling here to finally blog about it. I find it almost impossible to put into words the feeling I had, memories I made and joy I felt while we were in Venice Italy. I'm gonna do my best to share some stories with you on why I love Venice, but you've just got to take my word that no matter what I say or what you read on any travel blog, you just have to go there yourself and explore Venice with your own eyes. 

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We had the privilege of visiting Venice for the first time last August (2016). We spent three days and two nights there which course isn't enough but it gave us just enough time to get a feel for the city, see most the the sights we wanted to, and explore around with no agenda at times. Nick and I had been to Italy before, but Venice was not one of our stops during that trip. This trip, it was a city we felt we couldn't miss! Up until seeing Venice, we didn't think there was another Italian city that would wow us the way Rome did. We loved Florence, but didn't get the same wow feeling that we had with Rome, so we assumed Rome was just one of those cities that had our hearts and nothing could compete with it... until we visited Venice. From the moment we got off of the train and onto the water taxi that took us along The Grand Canal, we were in awe. We felt like we had stepped right into a stereotypical painting of the Venice canals and gondolas. Every square inch of this city is charming and worth painting a picture of. The thing I loved the most was how the buildings connected with the water as if people would walk out their front doors and the canals were the streets. Water was everywhere, and the buildings seemed to just flow right into it. 

The picture below is of the Rialto Bridge. This was one of the first big bridges we saw as we came into Venice. It is one of the most famous bridges in Venice. It's the oldest bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, and there are only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal in Venice. Of course during our stay we had some gelato while watching the gondolas pass under the bridge, a peaceful place to people watch. 

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We stayed on the actual island of Venice. I would absolutely recommend doing that. You won't find hotels on the island, but you can find an Airbnb like we did. Venice during the day is extremely crowded, most tourists stay across the canal on the mainland because it's cheaper and they take the water taxi in each day. If you stay on the actual island though, you'll feel like you have Venice all to yourself at night. It was amazing, the difference between day and night was huge. At night we felt like it was us, the locals, and a few other smart travelers. You can drink wine and wander the extremely confusing streets of Venice without a care in the world, especially since it's impossible to get too lost on an island. We spend most of our time eating, drinking and wandering around with no agenda, it was so relaxing and carefree. 

As I mentioned in my top 10 travel moments of 2016 post, my favorite part of Venice was St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco). We had breakfast there one morning and it was a memory I will never forget, and one of my favorite travel moments of all time. We ate at Caffè Florian, it is an indoor/outdoor restaurant that sits right in Piazza San Marco. You pay just to sit, but it's so worth it since that includes a front row seat to a live orchestra playing. The ambiance is everything you'd hope for in an Italian breakfast in the middle of a Piazza. You get to listen to the perfect music, sip on a cappuccino, and watch all the people and families wandering around the square. It's the most peaceful meal I have ever had. Well, I'm not sure you'd call my choice a meal, but it was so delicious. I had a plate of macarons and a cappuccino. If you are in Venice and are looking to indulge in dulce far niente, then this is the perfect way to do so. 

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st marks square breakfast
eating macarons in st marks square

Another favorite memory from Venice was when my father in law and I fed/held the pigeons! We saw people in St. Marks Square feeding the pigeons and letting them land all over them, even their heads. It looked super scary but I also really wanted to do it, I figured heck it must be part of the Venice experience. A nice guy let us use some of his chips, we put them in our hands, held them out and within seconds a bunch of pigeons were landing on us, eating straight out of our hands. It was hilarious! Now, I'm pretty sure the Italians don't want us tourists doing this, but it was a ton of fun and honestly I'd totally recommend it. Sorry Venice locals!

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st marks square

Naturally being the typical blogger, girly girl, tourist that I am... I had to take a trillion photos of the gondolas. They were so fun to watch floating down each canal. It probably killed the romance having some random girl staring at them and taking photos, but I didn't care, I just wanted all the great Venice gondola photos I could snag. We didn't actually do a gondola ride, it isn't high on my bucket list and we were with our father in law too, which would be somewhat awkward. I'll save that experience for when Nick and I go back to Venice alone on a romantic trip. 

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Pictured below is the famous Bridge of Sighs. It is not the bridge we are standing on in the photo, it's the bridge behind us. I loved hearing the history of this bridge while we were in Venice. Nick told me all about how the bridge got its name. It was the bridge that connected the prison with the interrogation rooms of Doge's Palace and once they were interrogated, convicts would pass over the bridge to then be imprisoned. It's called the Bridge of Sighs because the convicts would sigh as they crossed the bridge since the view was the last one they would see. I found this so interesting! I would have never known. 

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Overall Venice was one of my favorite places in all of Italy. It is tied with Rome, but I love them each for such different reasons so they really can't fairly compete with each other. If you ever get the chance to tour Italy, I would recommend putting Venice on your itinerary. Like I mentioned before, we only stayed for three days and two nights and I wish we would have at least stayed a day longer. When we go back I'll make sure we stay longer, we just weren't anticipating how much we would love this city so we didn't know how long to book it for. Thanks for letting me share my Venice Italy experience with you, but remember like I said already, nothing I can say can paint a picture of how truly great it is there so make sure to visit it for yourself. Stay tuned for more travel posts, subscribe below with your email if you aren't already!! 

 

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Top 10 Travel Moments of 2016

2016 was filled with so many amazing travel experiences and adventures. I love looking back each year and reflecting on our travels. You can check out last years post HERE. This year instead of breaking down each trip we took, I decided to pick my top ten favorite travel moments from the year. Here they are, in order of occurance not importance...

Grand Canyon

Talk about majestic! I love the Grand Canyon and I feel so grateful to have seen it. I did an entire blog post on this, so to read more about my day trip to the Grand Canyon, click HERE!

San Francisco

There is so much to see in the city and surrounding regions of San Francisco! We took a wine tour through Sonoma Valley, visited Ghirardelli Square, toured and ate seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, rode a trolley, walked the crooked road of Lombard Street, drank wine in the park near the Painted Ladies and of course took a billion photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I mention this was a girls trip?! I typically am traveling with my husband, and he is the best travel partner I could ever hope for. However, a girls trip with your best friends is so necessary sometimes. Wine, great food, new adventures and tons of laughs is the recipe for a perfect weekend getaway. 

Miami

Nick and I have been to Florida several times, but never Miami until this year. We are extremely surprised by the Cuban culture and influence in Miami. The beaches there are so stunning, with beautiful sand and clear turquoise waters. I did a full blog post on our weekend in Miami, read more HERE.

Amsterdam

In August we began our month long European adventure. We started in Amsterdam. I still need to do a whole blog post on just this city, there is just so much to say that I don't quite know where to begin. My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. My other favorite elements of Amsterdam were the beautiful parks, and the historical museums, including many art museums and the Anne Frank house. With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere, leaving you stressed out when you walk around town and the unique culture of the Red Light District. Those things are part of what makes Amsterdam a unique city, I personally just wasn't fond of them. Overall though, our time in Amsterdam was great, we loved walking around while discovering new sights and foods, and we loved experiencing the dutch culture for the first time.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Rome is my favorite city! It's my husband's favorite city too. We fell in love with Rome a few years ago when we were there on our honeymoon. Going back two years later was a dream. The first time we went to Rome the Trevi Fountain was under construction. It was one of the sights we were most looking forward to seeing, so when it was all covered in scaffolding we were so disappointed. This August when we went back to Italy, Trevi was up and running and let me say looking stunning. It is so much larger and more grand than I had anticipated. The way they light it up at night is just magical. Everyone gathers around Trevi in the evenings, eating their gelato and tossing coins into the fountain while they make wishes. We came back several nights, it just doesn't get old. 

Boating in Tropea, Italy

When it comes to touring Italy, we are spoiled. We are spoiled because we have family there and they give us the VIP tour. We get to see Italy through a local's eyes, not just our tourist eyes. Our cousin Antonio owns a boat in Tropea ( the most beautiful beach town in all of Italy). We took the boat out and got to gawk at the views of the coast from the sea. Tropea is stunning, I love the way the buildings are carved into the cliffs. The sea is such a bright blue, you would think you're sailing through Kool-Aid. We jumped in, swam for a bit, then headed back to the marina where we drank champagne and toasted to family. This is one of my favorite moments not just of this year but of my entire life. I'm so grateful to have family in Italy, they are so fun and such a joy to be around. 

Cinque Terre Hike

Hiking the Cinque Terre trail along the Italian coast had been on my bucket list for probably over seven years. I had first heard of Cinque Terre, Italy because amazing photos of the little fishing towns were going viral on Pinterest. It looked like something I would "pin" but never go to... a dream place that who knew if really existed. This August we actually went! And let me tell you it was as dreamy, quaint and stunning as the pictures on Pinterest made me believe. To read an in depth post on the hike we did, click HERE

Leaning Tower of Pisa

There are some things you see your whole life on post cards, computer screen savers, in movies and in books, but to see them in real life is something else. The leaning tower of Pisa is one of those famous landmarks. It was unbelievable to see it with my own eyes. I loved watching all the tourists take their "I'm holding the tower up" photos. Such a blast! 

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Sunset in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo

Watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence was an evening I'll never forget. It was quite the hike to get to Piazzale Michelangelo but it is so worth it. There you can overlook the entire city of Florence, getting a birds eye view of the red roofs. At the square you will find food and drinks. We drank wine while watching the sun set. It was so peaceful and so stunning that no photo will do it justice. 

Breakfast in St. Mark's Square, Venice

Last, but certainly not least... breakfast in St. Mark's Square! This was the most peaceful, joyous and memorable experience of our Europe trip. I know that may seem silly saying breakfast was my favorite, when we did things like tour the Roman Colosseum, explore the Vatican, we even saw the Pope! But this breakfast was simply my favorite. You pay to sit at this restaurant, you pay for the view and the live orchestra playing right behind you. I ordered a cappuccino and a variety of macrons. It was all so delicious, the best cappuccino and macrons I have ever tasted. We sat there, ate, drank, listened to the music and people watched. There is so much joy happening all through St. Mark's Square, so it is the perfect place to people watch. You'll see people from all walks of life, but they are all seemingly happy. That was one of the most tranquil moments of my life. I can't wait to go back. 

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