Gondolas, Glass-blowing, and Grappa in Venezia

Admirers of the city speak of its dream-like qualities and its fancifal canals, whereas detractors claim these same aspects lend it an artificial feel.  The former commend the quaint shops, pleasant seranades of the gondola drivers, and romantic nooks, whereas the latter see only over-crowded streets, expensive shops, and tourist kitsch.  Regardless of whichever side of the coin you happen to end up on, Venice is one of those cities that you have to see with your own eyes to believe.  From a practical perspective, the city probably shouldn’t exist, as the swampy island was never meant to support the weight of the bridges, building, and tourists that flock there today, but it exists nonetheless (with the help of some modern engineering).  From my perspective as a pounding-the-pavement pedestrian, however, I was just happy to find myself in a city in which there are neither cars nor bicycles allowed anywhere in sight.

The city itself is relatively small and can be navigated solely by foot, but to get a feel for the heart of the city, you really have to jump on a vaporetti (or water bus) to see things from the perspective of the canals, which form the only “streets” here.  Or conversely, if you’re in the mood for a more romantic atmosphere, you can always hire a gondala to ferry you around for a while, but be warned, it can be quite pricey.  And if you thought that I showed a lot of pictures of canals in my Amsterdam post, you haven’t seen anything yet!

Facades of a few of the canal-facing houses (which really means any house, as they all face canals)

One of the main pedestrian thoroughfares — the majority of the remaining walkways are more what you might call “alleys” as opposed to “streets” and form a labythine around the island that in which it is incredibly easy to find yourself lost

The Grand Canal itself — If you were to look at it from the sky, this canal would resemble an “S” that cuts the island into two halves. There is a suprising lack of bridges crossing it, however, so most resort to taking the water taxis to cross it

The Piazza San Marco, the main square of Venice

As much of the Basilica di San Marco as I could fit into the shot without including the bane of a photographers’s existence: scaffolding (I guess that the biggest problem with old buildings is, in fact, that they are old)

The crowds were out in force, too, despite the the cold weather

Eventhough it is the quintessential thing to do while in Venice, I resisted the urge to take a ride in a gondola. It wasn’t so much the $100+ price tag for a short ride that pushed me away as much as the fact that the romanitic atmosphere and gentle song of the driver woud likely have been a little awkward with just me as a solo passenger

The Torre dell’Orlogio

If you do grow tired of the somewhat clausterphobic island that is Venice, there are a few other small islands in the area that make for great day trips.  Of the more popular options, the island of Burano is known for its lace wheres the Lido, which is arguably the most famous, is essentially just one long strip of island with a beach running down the entire length.  Given that I’m not too enthralled with the world of lace and the mid-40’s temperatures (in Fahrenheit) would make for a chilly day at the beach, I elected for a third option: the island of Murano, which is famous for its glass-blowers and artistic glass creations.

The island is much smaller than Venice, but houses more glass stores and galleries than sheep in Ireland (well, that’s probably a stretch).  Basically, if your imagination can envision it, it has already probably been formed out of glass and is currently on display somewhere on this tiny island.  The aspect of Murano that appealed to me the most, however, was that unlike Venice, it felt like real people were living real lives here.  And I don’t mean to put down Venice in that regard, but it seems as though the larger island is more “created” than “natural” in some respects than its sleepy sibling.

With no roads or rail connecting the smaller islands, the only way to get there is by boat, meaning it was time for me to hail a Vaporetti

At a glance it looks like Venice, but there is a much more calm and relaxed atmosphere here, as there are no hectic crowds and no one seems to be rushing about with their business

A glass sculpture that sits in one of the town’s squares

An example of the many glass shops and galleries to peruse

There is also a lovely flower garden…made of glass, of course

And don’t worry, I didn’t forget to eat while in Venice, either.  I still managed to avoid the ever-present pizza and paninis, but I did both visit a few markets in Venice and try a few other sweet bites:

A few of the tasty treats that the sea has to offer (and by the way, check out the size of that octopus!)

Fruits and Veggies at the market

A Venetian Pistachio Torte

Given that I’m not going to be able to make it to Sicily on this lap around, I had to break down and try the canolis (chocolate and pistachio flavors)

An amazing macaroni dish with a not-so-subtly-flavored smoked goat’s cheese

Espresso and Grappa, a great way to end any meal. Grappa is, again, not specific to Venice, but is served all over Italy as a digestive (though it is really just an excuse to continue drinking). It is essentially a high-alcohol spirit made from the leftover grape skins and stems after the wine-making process is complete. And if you really want to be bold, much like adding frothy cream to espresso gives you a cappucino, adding grappa to espresso yields a caffe corretto (or “corrected” coffee)

My time in Italy has finally come to an end after a nearly two-week stay.  I’ve got another night train (uggghhh…) facing me down, but after that, I’ll hopefully be waking up refreshed and rejuvenated in the bustling metropolis of Budapest, Hungary.  See you soon!

Post Script: 1st Time Being Freshly Pressed!

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

106 Responses to “Gondolas, Glass-blowing, and Grappa in Venezia”

  1. Amazing photos and food. You dont get that anywhere in the states. Every time I read these updates I get hungry.

  2. Wonderful pics and story. Reminds me of a wonderful week I spent there years ago. Stayed at the Dolge Palace. Went to Murano and came home with a crystal pidgon.
    Safe travels
    Mac

  3. Andrew, very cool post. I’m glad you traversed Italy without any Vespa altercations…or is there anything you forgot to mention? My favorite part of these posts have been the obscure or uncelebrated scenes that have caught your eye. The famous landmarks are great, but you have an uncanny eye for the hidden asthetics that really help create the atmosphere of these cities. I hope Hungary has some good Lolacocrumply (is that how you spell it, Andy?) waiting for you.

    • No vespa accidents as of yet (knock on wood). Honestly, though, it is the bicyclists that you have to watch out for. Eventhough the vespas weave in and out of traffic, they at least stay in the road. The bicyclists seem to have no regard for traffic laws or pedestrians at all (but I guess it is similar in the USA, though, too).

      And thanks for the compliment on finding uncelebrated scenes. I always take pictures of small things that catch my eye, and I’ve actually been making a deliberate effort to include a few of these in each post. Anybody can go out on the internet and find pictures of the major sights, I’m also trying to give a glimpse into what it feels like to be in that place.

  4. SO jealous — and I’ll tell ya, the “Venetian” Hotel in Las Vegas just doesn’t do it justice…

    😉

  5. Beautiful photos are more beautiful city.

  6. I’ve always been enamored with Venice since I was a little girl, I hope one day I can go! Your pictures are great!

  7. Great light in your photos. Couldn’t bring me back a pistachio torte, could you? Thanks for sharing your travels via your blog – most enjoyable

  8. Wonderful post and photos! . . . Reminds me of my trip to Venice years ago! Thanks for the memories!!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  9. I fell in love with Venice years ago. These are great reminders of the trip and I want to go again!

  10. Those are some of the most awesome shots I’ve ever seen. You’ve captured Venice with interest and really got me to think. I love this. I didn’t know Venice was so intriguing. Can’t thank you enough. And the food looked amazing.
    http://valentinedefrancis.blogspot.com/

  11. Ohhh how I miss this place!!!

  12. Amazing! I just returned from a weekend visit to Venice and your blog reflected the city quite nicely 🙂

  13. I visited Venezia a few years ago in late May. Perfect time of year to enjoy the vaporetti. Like you, my husband and I did not want to drop the cash for the gondola ride. I loved our time in this beautiful city, thank you for bringing back the memories!

    Congrats on the FP!

  14. Wish I could be at the market there! Congrats on FP 🙂

  15. Your photos of Venice are BEAUTIFUL! We were there in September … and I was not ready to leave. Thank you for posting and writing about your experience. 🙂

  16. It was nice to read about your trip to Venice, particularly in light of my own recent visit (Oct. 11-16). One of the highlights of our time there was our day trip to Mazzorbo–a tiny island attached to Burano–which has a fantastic restaurant called Venissa. Venissa features local fish, game and produce and has its own vineyard; our lunch there was the highlight of our stay. (For a film-oriented take on Venice, check out my piece on “Don’t Look Now” at underthehollywoodsign.wordpress)

  17. Amazing. I want to try a Venetian Pistachio Torte. Moreover, you took great photos. 😀

  18. Beautiful place, and beautiful photos.

  19. Very nice photography. Feels just like I’m there. Thanks for sharing. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  20. Those are amazing pictures and they reflect the mood and feelings. Amazing.
    Yours, Saitohim.

  21. Great pictures! I’ve been to Southern Italy but Venice looks so beautiful, hopefully one day I can go there too!

  22. Great pics! I love Venice, it’s like a story out of a fairytale and your pics really show that!

  23. Ahh thanks for posting the pictures. Italy definitely has a magical element to it:)

  24. I’ve been there I LOVE Venice. You took MUCH better pictures than I did though!

  25. Brought me back to my trip to Venice in 2006. Thanks for the jaunt down memory lane. 🙂

    Going around the world? I am envious! I traveled Germany and Scotland for 5 months in 2010, and that just whetted the travel appetite. I also had fun writing about the places I went to. http://www.foundmyshoes.com

    I’m looking forward to reading more.
    Cheers,
    Anita

  26. These are amazing! I want to see the city of Venice!

  27. This is a really good post. It looks so amazing there! I love how they travel by boat. I MUST GO THERE!

  28. cool images. venice is just a colorful place.. i wanna visit the place someday… ^_^

    http://travellersdiningdepot.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/eating-the-gustavian-way/

  29. Oh great pics! I went to Venice as part of my honeymoon trip to Italy last year and it was our favorite city. I loved all the secret winding streets, walking everywhere, and of course the gelato. 🙂

  30. I’ll be in Venice next week. Thanks for the great photos.

  31. I absolutely loved looking at your photos – we visited Venice a few years ago and frankly I think it is the most beautiful place – I love all the little bridges and winding streets – and the fact that you just get lost all the time or take off down a street that becomes a dead end – and I loved the quiet – no traffic! So lovely.
    Thanks
    Lynn 😀

  32. Travel and Food-My favourite! Lovely blog, thanks for transporting me to Venice. 🙂

  33. Very nice pictures! You should check out my blog too, naturalitaly

  34. I love the glass sculpture, and the food looks amazing.

  35. Awesome post and beautiful pictures! It really made me want to be in Venice. Enjoy your travels! (I can’t believe you didn’t go on a gondola, though.)

  36. Very well-blogged Venice.

  37. We did a 2 week whirlwind tour of Italy and only spent one day in Venice. I could’ve spent the entire trip there and been perfectly happy. So glad you included the glass. Hope you had a chance to visit Murano. Wonderful tour!

  38. a charming picture. I’d love to visit there. But do not know when I can go there 😦

    Warm greetings from me
    NiceHomez.com

  39. Whoah! What a gorgeous adventure! I must visit this place one day! Thanks for sharing!

  40. It’s been 10 years since I visited Venice–thank you for the trip back and such lovely photos!

  41. All brought back great memories. I wish we had spent more time in Venice. We were in Piazza San Marco just a week after a flood receded. This was back in 1989… Always good to see photos of areas beyond the typical tourist scenes. That food looks delicious!

  42. Maybe I scanned the photos too quickly, but did you get a chance to visit the oldest casino in the world? And roam those same alleys in the wee hours of silence…with Grappa? We can share shots on that!!! 🙂 Great photos. Nostalgia setting in.

    cheers! I look forward to more

  43. Adorable shots! Hopefully next year I can visit Venice. I will be in Spain by May and Venice is one of the places I dreamed of. I love to try and eat their food too.*slurp*

  44. great pics. thank you for sharing them. they bring back memories of our time in venice. we were young and on our honeymoon and got completely lost in the city and it was the best time being lost i’ve ever had. we finished the day with a gondola ride while being serenaded. thanks again, and congrats on being FP.

  45. I was Freshly Pressed today, too, and I’ve finally had a chance to look at this post about one of my most favorite cities. Man these are amazing photographs. Especially the market shots and the glass. Had my first cappuccino in St. Mark’s Square when I was a teen and have never forgotten the Venice experience – which you’ve described so eloquently. Enjoy Budapest.

    • Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, too! Honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment with the resulting emails and “moderate comments” messages. Thanks for checking out the blog!

  46. Fabulous photos – you captured the feeling of that lovely decaying city. And it’s great that you’re traveling and writing – that’s the richest life of all. I did the same thing – I lived in Italy for a year and traveled all over Europe. For a funny story about Venice, check out http://4initalia.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/venice/. Enjoy every moment….!

  47. Been twice. It’s gorgeous even on rainy cloudy days. Even a hack like me could take a good picture. The colours of the buildings are outstanding and there is just something magical about the way the light reflects…
    Your photos are fantastic and are so true.
    Thanks bringing back some fond memories.

  48. Nicely written. Those pictures were beautifully taken. This looks like an amazing place to go on a trip to. One day i hope. Also those glass sculptures look really cool.
    Lawlz.org: Funny Pictures and Videos

  49. venedik italya,veryy very beautiful

  50. I would love to come here!!!thanks for sharing this amazing photos

  51. Love the pictures. I was lucky enough to go to Florence this summer and I hope to check Venice off the list this year too. 😛

  52. I love the shots of the homes. Those narrower waterways in the back of the buildings give a back alley in the big city feel, except instead of streets you have canals.

  53. the pics are just amazing…..

  54. Love Venice – visited as part of our Italian Honeymoon. We actually did get lost, which was pretty worrying at the time! Eerie place, and those cannolis look awesome! Nice pictures, too.

  55. I love Venice so much that I’ve been living here for 33 years! And even though the city is always crowded, messy and not anymore as magic as it was until 20 years ago, it still happens sometimes that I look around and say: wow! I wouldn’t ever be able to go away.

  56. i’ve never been there but it looks like incredible city. must visit it some day 🙂 i’m curious if it would be nicer experience for me then amsterdam where i live now. but this italian food… mmm… 🙂

  57. Beautiful!
    If anyone lives in Venice and has a room to rent for a few months, let me know.

  58. Great photos and loving the look of that Pistachio Torte 🙂

  59. theconstanttraveller Reply November 4, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I recommend to rent an apartment f ou aregngto Venice. Even if its just for week. Its cheaper, nicer and you can buy food at the market near Rialto and cook it yourself! Check out my guide to budget accommodation in Venice http://theconstanttraveller.com/2011/01/04/budget-accommodation-in-venice/ and my generel Venice guides http://theconstanttraveller.com/category/italy/

    🙂

  60. Thanks for describing your experience in Venezia ! As an italian I really like your post. Have you ever visited Venezia under the snow? fantastic atmosphere

  61. Sounds like and looks like a fantastic trip.

  62. I’ve also just travelled to Venice and Budapest. Great post, beautiful pictures. You are going to LOVE Budapest. The food there is incredible.

  63. WOW it really looks very nice place to visit, will definitely make a plan to visit there soon

  64. Wonderful photos! Brings back good memories. Thanks for posting.

  65. Amazing pictures! Congrats on being FP!

  66. Beautfiul photos…I happen to be reading “City of Falling Angels,” by John Berendt, right now. It takes place in Venice and details the burning of one of their famous theaters. Your photos added a visual boost to the descriptions provided in the book. Thank you.

  67. Oh, what an incredible trip that must have been! Your photos are amazing, the canolis look delicious, and that blue glass sculpture is incredible!! Wow! I’ve never been to Venice, but I certainly want to go even more now!

    Fantastic post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  68. Stunning photos!
    I visited Venice in June and am planning on writing up about my own experiences. It would be great if you could stop by and check it out.
    It is really an amazing city. Nowhere else quite like it.
    I hope you are enjoying your world travels 🙂
    xoxoxox
    K

  69. I love Venice. It is such a magical and mysterious city. Despite the stench of the canals and the growing mold, the sinking city captured my heart. Thank you for sharing your trip! It took me down memory lane.

    Kat

    • I was somewhat surprised, too, to catch wind of a few of the foul smells that waft through the city, but I guess that if you want the beauty of the canals, you have to be willing to put up with the occasional bad smell. Thanks for reading!

  70. One of the must-go-to places in my bucket list. Wonderful photos! Very jealous right now. 🙂

  71. I have always dreamed of coming to Italy with my partner, romantic. Beautiful pictures you’ve got there ~ makes me wanna come already! 🙂 BTW, how do you keep your canals clean? 🙂

  72. Venezia is one of my favorite cities in Italy, though I can’t imagine living their. Replacing a car with a water taxi takes some getting used to!

  73. Ok Brian, the meeting is confirmed … Great, let me just jump in my fishing boat and paddle down town, i’ll see you in a bit.

    Just kidding around, great snaps of a gorgeous city

    Cheers,
    -Ron
    http://www.learntobeatmatch.ca

  74. Brings back wonderful memories of Venice.

  75. Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed.

    Great post!

    I don’t think I would enjoy going on a gondola alone either. It’s too romantic to do alone. I would feel very lonely afterwards.

  76. Beautiful pictures! It’s so neat how the city revolves around the canals.

  77. great fun! This makes me want to return to Europe, where everything is such a sensual delight!

  78. Fantastic pictures! I spent a week in Venice and this definitely took me back to that time and place. Thanks for sharing.

  79. Hi temporarilylostdotcom

    A fantastic post and you captured just right most of my thoughts about Venice. well done

    Kudos to you

    I have been to Venice a few times by train, bus and sea, It was always crowded with people everywhere and yes I got lost a few times, yet I loved every moment that I spent there and cannot wait to go again. It is a city to enjoy for just what it is. Unfortunately that is going to have to be what each of you personally make of it.

    I will be back to have a look at this blog.

  80. Very cool post, thank you for sharing :). And congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  81. This blog instantly made me want to jump on a plane and go back to Venice. My husband and I went in 2009. (At that time we weren’t married, he actually proposed on this trip, before we got to Venice…insert a joyful sigh). Thank you so much for sharing your adventures!
    I actually have a picture from Venice that I labeled “Flood Insurance” on my FB, I am sure you saw these when you were there, but it is a big piece of metal at the front door, to block water.
    Did you get to go to the island Murano?

  82. You write so well! I went to Venice for the first time this summer and know what you mean about experiencing it in two completely different ways!

  83. I was there this past February, and it is soooo beautiful! Great way to open for Florence and Rome! I hope to tour Italy and DJ in some of the most village-like areas one day!

  84. You really captured the spirit and essense of Venice! And you are completely correct in saying that one must experience this amazing place first-hand…there is no other city quite like it in the world! My next wish is to experience Carnivale here….can you only imagine the revelry and the excitement? Happy travels and I will have to read back to catch up on your adventures! I’m glad I found you blog 🙂
    ~Barbara

  85. Love these picturers! My dream is to one day visit Tuscany & attend a cooking school there.

    Enjoy your world trek!

    Thanks for sharing, & congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  86. I visited Venice years ago…lovely memories of my visit…the Piazza, the pizza, the visit to the glass factory, the canals, bridges and gondolas…and I was so tickled pink to see traffic signals for the boats, etc – hope to go again. Thank you for the memories! 🙂

  87. Brings back memories of this gorgeous place!!

  88. My first thought when I went to Venice: How do parents raise kids here?! They’d open the door and go plop into the water. There goes baby! ….Then again, I didn’t see very many children in Italy anyway and I doubt it has much to do with drowning children. Despite this its beautiful and I’m glad I stumbled upon this post to warm my memory.

  89. nice shot all pic are awesome

  90. Great photos! I have a few similar ones from our recent trip. I would have to say I fall into the latter group but do agree that Venice is a place to visit at least once. I do wish it was more conducive to strollers and wheelchairs.

  91. I would love to see Venice. It looks lovely!

  92. Beautiful photos of Venice; what great memories you provided me of my time there. Thanks for a wonderful post: Such a romantic city, too!

  93. Love to go there 🙂

  94. Beautiful city of river.

  95. Your pictures remind me of how much I loved visiting Venice and they make me wanna go back! -Mark http://www.markinthecity.com

  96. How amazing. Your shots are stunning!!!

  97. There isn’t a bad photo in your blog post. Venezia – I hope to get there soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  98. the wife and I wanted to go to Venezia for our honeymoon but we have not made it yet. I love the photos thanks fro a nice look at the island

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