We were in Venice for 3.5 days.
- Boat Ride: Part of the tour of Venice that my dad arranged for us all was a boat ride around the canals. It was a spiffed-up motor boat, somewhat like the one on which we spent entire summers when I was a kid. Our driver, Marino, was a quiet man who operated the vehicle with ease (sometimes while talking on his iPhone). And just the view of the city from the water and the breeze and the open vantage point – all on a sunny day – was the best thing I could have imagined doing. I’m not a big fan of gondolas, but I strongly recommend getting on a boat if you visit Venice.
- Rialto Bridge: My least favorite please to be in Venice: like a bustling market, but with no way out. When my parents wanted to meet there on our way into town (read: with all of our luggage), my first question was whether the bridge could handle the weight. It turns out to have been quite apropos, since earlier versions of the bridge did indeed crumble under the weight of the commerce done there. But, from the water, the bridge is an entirely different experience. It is pretty and quaint and clean and much larger than it looks from the land on either side. So, I would suggest going once for the photo op, and then getting far away, to a wetter vantage point.
- San Marco: We walked through this tourist-laden area, but didn’t take advantage of much of its charms. Part of the main church was under construction, and we only saw the Astronomical Clock and ornate decorations from the outside. There is also a Bridge of Sighs here – for prisoners, not lovers, our tour guide pointed out. And the church has beautiful designs carved into the outside too. Likely worth it, but we just couldn’t get too thrilled about it, with the hordes all around.
- Church of Madonna dell’Orto: The cloisters next to the church had a special exhibit of art by a New York artist, who’s been living in Venice for decades, whose name neither our memories nor detailed Google searches can uncover. B and I agreed that his art was cool from afar, with vibrant, unusual colors of sunsets engulfing pretty buildings. Up close, some of the strokes needed for an accurate portrayal from afar suddenly look messy and out of place. Either way, it was cool to get in here, since it’s privately-owned and almost never open to the public. We would have headed into the church, which is said to have some neat art by Tintoretto, but it was closing time.
- Church of San Pantalon: We took a peek inside this church on our tour. The organ and altar were cool, but nothing I would classify as mind-altering. The name of the Saint in whose name it is dedicated, Pantalon, means ‘pants’ though, so that’s fun.
What We Skipped:
- Doge’s Palace / Casanova’s Jail Cell: Too many tourists, and not enough incentive to see a jail cell.
- Torre dell’Orologio (St. Mark’s Clock Tower): We saw this cool astronomical clock from the outside, but we didn’t arrange for the guided tour in advance.
- Guggenheim Museum: I know this museum is supposed to have Picasso, Kandinsky, and Dali, whom I appreciate, but I’ve been Guggenheimed out since my trip to the one in Bilbao in 2004. Maybe this one would have been more worth it?
- Ca’ Pesaro: Another modern art museum? No thanks. We saw it from the water though.
- San Giacomo di Rialto: We were staying near this red church, which is the oldest in Venice, dating back to 421. However, we didn’t go inside.
- Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: This church is said to have a work by Titian, but we got some of that in Florence.
- Correr Museum: This collection of globes from the 16th century is cool, I’m sure, but we weren’t inspired to track it down.
- Jewish Museum: We walked around the Jewish quarter instead, seeing some cool art showcasing
- Mocenigo Palace: An interesting idea, to look at the lives of 17th and 18th century noblemen – and they even supposedly have five whole rooms dedicated to perfume. Alas, we remained stinky.
- Murano Glass Museum: We wanted to get out to Murano itself and see the workshops, but I got sick, unfortunately.
- Lace Museum: We didn’t make it out to the Burano island for this, sadly.
- Gondola driving lessons: The article that B read to me about gondola accidents successfully put me off this activity. Plus, we saw the gondola-making yard. Does that count?