Venice…the magical city once called home by the womaniser Casanova and the talented painters Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, is either loved or hated by its visitors. I happen to adore it.

I fell in love with Venice the first time I visited the Italian city in 2001. For 8 hours, I meandered through the cosy streets, ate delicious gelatos and joined a not so romantic but still lovely gondola ride with 5 other people. I was 15 years old at the time, and completely enthralled by the city. I would visit the city 3 more times after my initial encounter and each visit made me fall even deeper in love.

The photos in this essay are from my last visit in July. For three days I explored corners of Venice I had never been to before in the scorching summer heat.

Meandering canals

The most famous and busiest canal in Venice is Canal Grande. The wide canal snakes through the city and is the main thoroughfare for tourists who are making their way from the train station to Piazza San Marco. The 3km long Canal Grande is a busy hub used daily by water taxis (motoscafi), water buses (vaporetto), ambulances, workboats and gondolas. Apart from the iconic canal, Venice boasts over 150 canals and 400 bridges.

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

It’s such a beautiful sight, watching the gondoliers manoeuvring their gondolas through the shallow canals with the old buildings towering over them. By day, it looks like a busy nest. It’s an art to behold the way the gondoliers deftly make their way around each gondola, with no hint of panic or anger. By night, the canals are less crowded, which makes for a more romantic and less stressful experience.

” It’s such a beautiful sight, watching the gondoliers manoeuvring their gondolas through the shallow canals. “

We traversed many of the cute bridges all around Venice and decided on a private evening gondola tour. The price is a little more expensive (100 instead of 80 Euros), but so worth it. Apart from the canals being less busy, a major plus was that the heat was more bearable. Our gondolier was incredibly friendly, even though we more than likely inundated him with the typical questions he must receive all the time: “Where do you live?”,”How do you become a gondolier?”, “How many canals are in Venice?”, “Do you like your job?”, “Where did Casanova live?”, and of course the most important question: “Can you sing O Sole Mio?”, which unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), he did not.

Gondolas in Venice
Things to do in Venice
Bridge of Sighs, Venice
Taking a gondola ride in Venice
Gondola in Venice
Venetian Gondolier, Italy

Venetian Gothic

Venice has a distinct architectural style called Venetian Gothic. The style, a mix between Gothic, Byzantine and Moorish architecture shows a graceful structure with beautifully decorated window arches and intricate details.

Square in Venice
Piazza San Marco, Venice

Venetian Masks

The Venetian mask has a long tradition going back for centuries. While the mask is now usually worn during Carnival, the wearing of the beautifully adorned masks used to be a very common aspect of life in Venice. The mask was usually used to hide one’s identity allowing the wearer to act more freely.

Venetian masks, Venice

Venetian masks are such a famous symbol of Venice, it is near impossible to miss them while you’re visiting the city. From cheap versions in the usual tourist shops to high quality masks in dedicated Venetian masquerade shops.

” Venetian masks are such a famous symbol of Venice, it is near impossible to miss them while you’re visiting the city. “

We visited a few shops a little outside the center. We were allowed to try a few on, but the more precious masks were off limits. A few shops also offered costume rentals, which made me want to come back during Carnevale, dress up and join a couple of masquerade balls.

Venetian mask, Venice

Lost in Venice

Leave the hustle and bustle of San Marco Piazza, and get lost in the narrow cosy streets all around Venice.

Small streets in Venice

Leave your map behind and let the streets guide you. It’s easy to get lost and easy to stumble upon an impressive site you otherwise would have missed.

” We suddenly found ourselves alone in the streets of Venice, which I never thought possible. “

 

While venturing further away from San Marco Piazza, we left the usual tourist fuss behind and were welcomed by the familiar sounds of home cooking. Pots and pans clanking around and a whiff of a delicious tomato based pasta dish with garlic and basil notes reached us. We suddenly found ourselves alone in the streets of Venice, which I never thought possible. Tourists were far away, and the locals knew better than to step outside around the hottest time of the day.

It was great fun to find our way back through the maze.

Hotels in Venice

Book your stay in the City of Bridges now

Street in Venice, Italy

An evening in Venice

Once the temperature has dwindled, locals and tourists alike flock the streets of Venice. With music and entertainment at San Marco Piazza, and cosy terraces next to the Canal Grande, there is plenty to enjoy in the evening.

An evening in Venice

There is nothing more romantic (or cosy, or enjoyable) watching the sunset while sipping your wine next to the canal. A few gondolas are still passing by, and the lights lit up one by one along the water. The food can be expensive but the quality is good.

After dinner we would walk walk around San Marco Piazza, enjoying the atmosphere and live music with our fifth gelato in our hand.

Canal Grande in Venice

Final Thoughts

Venice can be expensive and overcrowded, but it doesn’t have to be. I would always suggest to avoid Venice during summer: It’s too crowded and too hot. Visit the main sites, but explore a little further as well and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Looking out over Canal Grande, Venice
Venice lagoon
Book a hotel in Venice, Italy
Writer and photographer at |

Hi! I'm a Belgian travel blogger currently living in Vancouver, Canada after living in the UK for 7 years. I have a keen interest in responsible travel, volunteering and archaeology and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures around the world!

15 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, your pictures are magical. My husband has been promising me for 25 years of marriage that we would go to Venice together but it hasn’t happened so far. I’ve even turned down 3 opportunities to go with friends because I think it will be such a romantic place that I will only want to go with him but at this rate I may be too old to manage the cobblestones and all the walking. LOL Loved your story. 😉

  2. I love this collection of notes and pictures. Venice is beyond amazing and any traveler who tells you not to go or that it’s just tourists isn’t worth their weight in feathers. You’ve assembled a really lovely profile of my favorite city.

  3. Great post! I absolutely love Venice! I had heard before visiting that it was expensive and overcrowded with tourists. But I really think if you make the choice to see the beauty and culture there, as opposed to the crowds, Venice is an incredible place. There is no other place like it on Earth!

    I am new on the travel blogging scene, and visited Venice long before I started blogging, so I really need to take another trip there very soon. Also, I need to go back to get some fabulous photos like the ones you have! Your work is beautiful! Thank you for the inspiring read and pics! Ciao 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here