Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Venice and Lido, Italy

Lord Byron's "fairy city of the heart" may be slowly sinking, but the band is staying with the ship! From the accordionists serenading diners in canal-side restaurants to the church bells ringing from every corner of the island, the city is alive and kicking, determined to have a great time.

Out of the way canals were just as romantic as the historic ones!
There are many options on island access and accommodations, and we chose to stay on Lido Island, a resort island to the east of Venice, and to bring our car along. The adventure started with a drive over the Ponte della Liberta bridge, taking us from mainland to the island of Venice. From there we crossed to the Isola del Tronchetto, where we caught the ferry-boat to Lido. Roberts has previously been to Venice, but my first impressions were formed while cruising the Canale della Giudecca past the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco and seeing the masses of people among the canals, bridges and stately water’s-edge houses lining the shores.

There was also a great view of the passing cruise ships

Because of our afternoon arrival we did not make the ferry trip back that day to Venice, but a visit to the Lido beach before dinner was a refreshing after the car trip and boat voyage. Lauris giggled and stomped, running in and out of the surf, at first with clothes, then in diaper, finally like other kids in his birthday attire.

In any other city you have a public transportation system of buses and trains; for Venice, it is ferries and fast boats. After breakfast we bought a 12-hour pass; this was a great decision, because it allowed us freedom in our wanderings. One adult ticket cost 6.50 euro, one 12-hour pass, 16. Three rides made up for the difference, and I believe we took at least five. They run very regularly, it is relatively easy to understand the routes, and they have a back (outside, but covered) deck with seats that allows for the ultimate lazy sightseeing of the action in and next to the canal – we went straight to the back each time we boarded.  

A ferry back deck view

Venice is split into two by the Canal Grande, a north and a south. The canal makes a big backwards "S" which allows the S. Polo quarter to be encompassed by the south half, despite being north of the S. Marco district, and this was our first destination. We explored the I Frari Franciscan church, then the streets leading to Ponte di Realto, the famous bridge that was first built in 1591 but is currently traversable in its sixth incarnation.

Lauris waving to the ferry boat from the Realto bridge
Then it was on to Piazza San Marco, the heart of Venice. We fed pigeons near the Basilica and Palazzo Ducale, then went looking for the Ponte dei Sospiri. The 16th century "Bridge of Sighs" connects the Palace with the prisons, and owes its name to the romantic notion that held that the prisoners would suffer their final torment at the view of Venice from the window. However, we were not to have our view of the bridge; currently under restoration, and only part of the facade was visible.

Obligatory picture of feeding the pigeons
After a quick cafe stop while Lauris slept we hopped back on the ferry to do some back deck sightseeing. We took the #2 boat all the way to the end of the line past the train station, and then jumped on a return ferry to get to Ca’ d’Oro. The best view of Ca’d’Oro is from the water, and rather than enter the palace to view the art collection, we followed signs leading the way to “Kristaps Ģelzis ‘Artificial Peace’ contemporary landscape” art exhibit. There must have been some internationally-themed art focus during our visit, as we later saw signs leading to the exhibits of other countries, but for us Latvia’s exhibit was enough. The signs took us down the back streets, past an under-reconstruction, drained canal, to Palazzo Albrizzi, where we viewed the exhibit, signed the guestbook, and continued on our way east. We passed a handful of beautiful churches, stopped for one or two coffees, shopped in at least two little shops (we did not make the trip to glassmaking island Murano, but did find some Murano glass to purchase as a souvenir) and finally came to the gates of the Arsenal. Closed to the public, it is a modern naval base, a depository for arms, as well as a shipyard that was the reason for Venice’s maritime power many years ago.

Lauris with Pinocchio, who is from a small Italian village
Another ferry trip later we found ourselves on the steps of Santa Maria della Salute, the basilica built to mark the end of the Plague epidemic of 1630. In this corner of the Dorsoduro district there were few tourists, and many beautiful little side streets. Here we also found a good restaurant for dinner; we sat outside overlooking the Canale Della Giudecca while the sun set, eating our fresh pasta and seafood, sipping a glass of wine, being serenaded by a passing accordionist. It was a delicious end to a wonderful day.

The next morning after breakfast we headed to the beaches on Lido, taking turns playing in the surf. Once we’d had our fill of the sun it was on to catch the vaporetto that would take us back to the mainland dock and the bridge to the rest of Italy. All three of us sat on deck, watching the palaces and churches of Venice slip past one more time while thinking of all we had seen and done in the past two days.


  1. I absolutely adore Venice. Lovely photos!! Visiting from post of the month hop.

  2. Calling by from Post of the Month Club and of course I loved this post. I bet you cannot guess why. :)

  3. Lovely post and lovely blog! I have found it through Happy Homemaker UK and the Post of the Month Club. I love reading about travelling and with your permission I am becoming a follower to come here again. Regards,

  4. Also coming from POTMC. This is my first time trying it out. I love the easy access to all these great blogs! I remember visiting Italy when I was a little girl and my mom telling me I could go topless. I promptly declined!

  5. Ooh, just a wonderful post. We were just there in April with the kiddos - they loved taking a boat taxi from the airport to hotel. You have great words to go with your wonderful photographs :) XOL

  6. Loved all of this, but esp the one with Pinocchio.

  7. Congrats for this wonderful family vacation! This city is great for holidays!


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