Aahhh, Venice. Long awaited Venice, Italy. This was definitely more of a bucket list item for me than anything. I had always wanted to see the canals, people, architecture of Venice and am so glad I had the chance. Worth the wait for sure! I will say though, it wasn’t the best spot for the family. By the time we reached Venice the kids who had done so well in London and Florence were a little done with city traveling and touring. Venice was not easy to navigate with three kids in tow. But they made the most of it and we had a fantastic 2 1/2 days wandering around Venice taking it all in.
Upon Arriving in Venice, we had been debating taking the water bus to our hotel or a water taxi. The bus as you can imagine is less expensive in general. However when traveling with a family of 5 things amortize quite quickly and you soon realize that one large ticket is typically not much more than 5 cheaper tickets. Shuttling in style to your hotel is of course the bonus. From the moment we got on our taxi we were instantly transported to Venetian life. Classic and gorgeous wooden boats, Italian yelled across the canal, Gondolier stripes around every corner. This young girl was taking it all in one dock at a time.
As we toured the Grand Canal by taxi we were able to get a sense of the city from the water before starting out on land. It was the perfect overview of Venice and worth the extra $$ on the taxi. Once we were in Venice, I was able to get a glimpse at some of the hotels we had seen online before booking our stay. In the end I was really glad we were not directly on the Grand Canal. Our hotel was only a block if you will, off the Grand Canal, on a small little interior canal that was charming and quiet. We were thrilled with the location and the very large family room at Hotel ai due Principi. These two Gondoliers quickly became a fascination of mine. They were just so perfectly stereotypical for me. I loved their banter and their stripes! We watched them laugh as we ate lunch, they were chatting it up with other gondoliers passing by below in the small canal. At one point the one on the right fell asleep sitting there while his buddy read the daily news. Could not have scripted it better myself. Quintessential.
After our late leisurely lunch with my now requisite rosé, we met up with a guide we were recommended for an afternoon walking and talking about the rise of Venice. While we walked, Susanna told us stories of war and peace and of church and state, of art and dictators and gave us a better sense of Venice’s importance in world history and geography. I was taken back by the constant reminders of the Moorish influence in this part of Italy. I had not placed Venice geographically in my head until now. Seeing it in person I was reminded of it’s proximately via the Mediterrenean Sea to countries like Greece, Turkey and Egypt while recalling historically their influence on Italy. Architecturally, I was mesmerized.
Venice was lovely. I am so fortunate and grateful to have been able to see one from my bucket list this summer. It was a dream come true and of course my love was not going to leave Venice without putting his Italian wife on a gondola, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the drawbacks we found spending time in Venice with kids. We were in Venice in early July to put it in perspective. It was crowded. It was expensive. There was not one patch of grass and very few trees, no place to run (except for chasing pigeons in the square!) and be a kid really. While it was warm and we were surrounded by water we weren’t able to enjoy any of it, only look at it. Not easy on kids. The narrow walkways also proved tough to navigate with some being only a person wide that the kids were bumping into people and having a hard time not getting lost. I am so glad we had our kids with us and that they were able to experience it, but if I were to do it all over again, I may have picked a different location instead. (Or at least a hotel with a pool!) All that being said, we laughed, we walked, we learned and we ate very well in Venice and my heart is full.
Certainly we could not leave Venice without a gondola ride. We knew we’d go back to find my friend Mario to take us for our spin around the canals. We opted for a less busy part of the canals. Know ahead of time that gondola rides are pricey! And if your ride begins or ends anywhere near sunset, expect to pay a lot more. They know each tourist there is likely only there once and will splurge for the cost, but it’s dubious whether or not its actually worth the $$. You can decide. I was not going to leave Venice without a ride in a gondola and if you are lucky you will even get a singer!
Looking back on this pic of my hubby and I, we look tired. But happy. Our hearts were full with seeing new things through our children’s eyes, our tummies were full of amazing Italian food (and plenty of gelato), and our soul’s were nourished by spending time together experiencing a way of life different than the way we know at home. Travel is just too good.