Italy – Venice

Our Costa Mediterranea cruise approached a foggy Venice. Due to the inclement weather, we were told that there would be a slight delay to our arrival time. We had booked a two night stay at the Guesthouse Alloggi Agli Artisti on Cannareggio 99/B, and from the online reviews we realized that it was located just a few minutes away from the Santa Lucia train station. Perfect for us since we were lugging our heavy backpacks from the cruise ship! Our accommodations cost 134 Euro for 2 nights (double bed, shared bathroom, free wifi). Disembarking the cruise ship was a breeze and the walk to our guesthouse was straightforward and stress free. When we arrived at reception, we still had another two hours before check-in but the friendly hotel employee took one look at our sweaty state, laughed and told us that our room was ready if we wanted to check in early. Two thumbs up for Alloggi Agli Artisti! Even though we had to hike up to the 4th floor to reach our room, we were pleasantly surprised with our Venetian lodgings. Our room was clean and comfortable, and there were plenty of shared bathrooms (spotless) on our floor. Thank goodness we took the negative online reviews with a grain of salt! After dropping off our gear, we set out to explore Venice on foot.

Since this was our second visit to Venice, we weren’t stressed about visiting anything in particular and just wanted to wander the back alleys and get lost in the labyrinth maze of the city. For several leisurely hours we made our way from the Santa Lucia train station in the direction of Piazza San Marco, following the yellow signs on the walls for “San Marco” and “Rialto”. Our guidebook stated no picnics were allowed in the Piazza San Marco vicinity (punishable by a fine!), so we decided to find another picnic spot and settled on the waterfront near San Giacomo di Rialto Church. There, we enjoyed a lunch of prosciutto and cheese on delicious wheat bread accompanied by fruit…yum! After lunch, we stumbled upon the Rialto Bridge which unfortunately was under renovation. Nevertheless, there were still hundreds of tourists taking selfies despite the ugly scaffolding! From Rialto, it was an easy walk to San Marco (just follow the signs!). We stayed here and people watched until sunset, taking lots of photos along the way. At twilight, the masses hurriedly scattered, leaving Piazza San Marco a ghostly square. With everyone scurrying off to dinner or their hotels, we decided to follow suit and we had to make our way in the dark back towards our hotel. Thankfully, there were plenty of “Per Piazzle Roma” and “Alla Ferrovia” signs so we didn’t get too lost as we stumbled around in the dark. The temperature cooled off significantly once the sunset, so we walked quickly to stay warm and were ravenous for dinner by the time we reached our hotel. A Chinese restaurant named Ristorante Shanghai had caught our eye earlier in the day so we settled for Chinese food which was quite tasty (small portions, reasonably priced for Venice).

7 Nov: Since our cruise had been nothing but “go, go, go”, we took the opportunity to sleep in today! Robby was keen on visiting the Fish market (Rialto Market) for some photos so we decided to visit it as soon as we got up since morning is usually when the action is. The market didn’t disappoint with tons of seafood on display. Nearby, we bought an avocado from the produce market to accompany some fresh bread, prosciutto and cheese. What a sandwich…the avocado made all the difference! We picnicked on the docks opposite Ca d’Oro vaporetto stop, which ended up being quite romantic because a gondola station was nearby. From our low vantage point (sitting on the docks), we got to witness dozens of striped shirt gondoliers steering passengers in their gondolas mere feet in front of us. It was as if we had first class seats to the Venice show and it was all free! It quickly became evident that some gondoliers were better than others, especially the ones that broke out into spontaneous Italian songs.

After lunch, we decided to explore the Castello district beyond San Marco Square so we got lost wandering around Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, passing by the Arsenale (shipyard and armory complex). Since our flight back home was tomorrow, we stopped by a ticket office to buy our bus tickets to the airport. We were told that ATVO coaches frequently departed from Piazzale Rome to Marco Polo Airport for a mere €8…sold! So long pretty Venice and until next time!

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