I’m gonna make a casual series here called my five favorite things. As part of my dual need to express gratitude and live simply, I figured that picking some of the cool places I’ve been and identifying my five favorite things about them would be a satisfying, yet stress free way to show my love in a minimalist way. So enjoy the first installment: Venice!
Wandering at Night
Some of you may have heard that Venice is going to start limiting the number of tourists on special occasions and is moving their cruise ships out of the closer harbor. There’s a reason. The city is overrun with tourist groups, following a tour guide with a flag, clogging up the tiny side roads. It’s pretty miserable to walk the city when there are so many (inconsiderate) tourists blocking your view and your path. But what’s great about Venice is that at 6:30 pm, the tourists tend to leave. Whether their buses are departing for their next stop or their cruise ships are leaving or they just don’t think they’ll get the best Instagram pictures at night, everyone disappears.
Nighttime is the best time to wander the little streets and peak down alleyways and canals. I one hundred percent recommend putting away Google Maps and just getting lost for a bit. You’ll eventually reach the edge of the city, but the best parts of Venice are hidden away, discoverable by foot, inhabited by local kids playing soccer in the streets.
To escape the crowds, we hopped a ferry to Murano. Murano is home to glassmakers galore and they display their art everywhere. Whether you’re looking for a new chandelier or just want to window shop, the island is worth a visit. It’s also awfully colorful and gives you all the good vibes without the crowds. We were able to pop over in the mid morning and grab an early-ish lunch for cheap. Spending an hour or two wandering about was lovely. Plus the ferry back might take the scenic route and show you other islands and what Venice used to be: swamp land!
The Church with The Views
We choose to skip St. Mark’s Basilica as we only had a day to explore and didn’t fancy standing in line for hours. But that’s okay, because Venice is packed with hundreds of glorious churches. On your wanders, pop your head in to a church. Be respectful and take a look around. Even for the non-religious, it’s an experience not to be missed.
If you want to see a beautiful church and get great views, hop a ferry to S. Giorgio. You’ll be right in front of the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. The Abbazia di San Giorgia Maggiore has a bell tower you can take an elevator up to see a stunning view of Venice. The view took my breath away, especially as we arrived as the sun was setting.
If you’re going to visit Murano, you might just stop at the cemetery island on your way. The Cimitero di San Michele is an island that is a still active cemetery. Families were there to visit their loved ones while we wandered. If I inherited one thing from my mother, it’s her love of wandering through old cemeteries. Many of the tombstones had little photos of the dead, which was both touching and a little bizarre. There was still quite a bit of unused space on the island, but apparently they have plans to expand, and the island isn’t a final resting place, as you’re only guaranteed ten years there. I thought it was fascinating and it was both calming and quiet.
This may seem silly, but one of my favorite things about Venice was all the puppies. Venice was full of sweet, well-behaved, pups. If you’re not a dog fan, the people watching is also excellent. Take some time out from running from site to site, church to church, to watch the locals and tourists alike. We stayed off the island and were able to walk to a small bakery for breakfast in the morning. They remembered our order on the second day and were joking with us as we nibbled on our delicious pastries. Plus on our way there, we met the sweetest pup!
Sometimes the best thing to do in a new city is blend in, find the locals, and skip the touristy spots in favor of pups and a new perspective.