I have visited Venice twice before but only for the day and I wanted to explore more of the city, so I figured what better time than during Carnival. Carnival time which is 10 days before Shrove Tuesday, the start of Lent. Mario's work schedule didn't permit him to join, so I went on another solo trip
Did you know that Venice was founded in the 5th century. The people wanted to flee Barbarian invasions so they build a settlement on the water, which is present day Venice. Venice is made up of 100 islands located in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea.
I took a morning one hour flight to Venice Marco Polo airport and arrived a little before lunch. The airport is on the mainland of Italy and there are numerous ways to get into Venice. I decided on the ATVO express bus. It was a charter bus with one stop at Piazzale Roma which is right next to the train station. I bought a round trip ticket for $17. I could have also taken the city bus or water taxi, but this was the quickest option. Once I arrive I headed toward my hostel hoping I could check in early. I decided I wanted explore hostel living and I couldn’t pass up the price $34 a night including city tax during Carnival time. Here are some of the views as I walked towards my hostel.
My room wasn't ready but I was able to leave my backpack in the luggage room. Glad I brought a lock so I knew my stuff would be safe. A little about the hostel I picked. The “Crociferi” Hall of Residence is located in Sestriere Cannaregio, at Campo dei Gesuiti, behind the Fondamenta Nuove. It was built during the Middle Ages and belonged to the Crocoferi a religious order ministering both military and hospital field. It had different roles over the years but in 1960 was left neglected. After being remodeled it was reopen in 2013.
From there I walked back to the train station so I knew how to go and it took about 30mins with crowds. From there I just wandered around and took in the views. Getting lost in Venice is a must, so pick a street and explore. I got some awesome canal pictures by just wondering.
As I walked I saw many people dressed up in costumes and in Venetian wear with masks. There were numerous stands selling masks, some very simple while other very elaborate. I eventually made it to San Marco square and it was packed since it was Sunday! I learned from my research that if you want to experience a carnival party, tickets are 500euros which includes drink and food. But you have to provide the costume. There are many places where you can rent a costume.
Then I decided to walk towards the Dorsoduro part which is across the canal from San Marco square. If you follow the canal, you will each a bridge which give you the option to not have to take a water taxi.
After walking a few hours I figured I better head back to the hostel and check in. After getting lost a few times, I made it back to the hostel. I grabbed my backpack and checked in. On the elevator ride up I ran into my roommate a girl from Russia. I booked a shared room, so two twins beds and two desks. The bathrooms and showers were across the hall. One reason I picked this place was it was a remodeled monastery which I thought was really cool but it had security measures to keep me safe. I had to badge myself in order to use the elevator and to get into my hallway. With this being my first experience in a hostel I wanted to feel safe.
The next day I left around 8am and made my way towards San Marco square which was about a 30 min walk from the hostel. As I walked I was joined by kids heading to school and people heading into work, I was loving the no crowd feel. I feel by staying where I did, in a side of town I had never been to before, I was seeing more day to day life instead of all tourists. Today I had tickets for the Doge Palace and 3 other museums. I only visited the Doge’ s Palace which was the former doge's (chief magistrate) residence and seat of Venetian government. I wanted to get there right when it opened at 8:30, to maximize my time today. I made my way through the palace, I had most of the rooms to myself. One part of the tour is the prison, which are spooky when you are alone but very interesting. I was able to walk across the Bridge of Sigh which connects the palace to the prison. It is said that the bridge was the last point a condemned prisoners could see the city of Venice before being brought to their executioner.
From there, I decided to explore the Saint Mark's Basilica but I had to check my bag and pictures weren’t allowed so I figured I would explore the Campanile Bell tower which is Venice's tallest building. The original bell tower collapsed but was replica was rebuilt. While waiting in line, I ran into a mother and daughter from Virginia area who were stationed in Italy years ago. The daughter is studying business in Paris. So we talked while we waited in line. The views from the tower were awesome and worth every penny. It was $9 which included an elevator ride to the top.
From there it was almost lunch so I grabbed a quick sandwich, which I ate as I walked. If you sit down to eat you are charged more money, so grabbed a slice of pizza or a sandwich is the best way to go. I decided I had time to explore the islands of Venice. So I bought a ticket for the green line boat which is a 4.5 hr tour of the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello for $22. While waiting in line, I started talking to a British couple who I sat with on the boat and hung with during the tour.
The first stop was on the island of Murano which is known for their glass making. Glass hasbeen made since 1291, when the furnace were moved to Murano from Venice for fear of fires. We watched glass being blown, which I had seen before and was given some time to explore the island.
From there we headed towards the island of Torcello which was the first settled island. A combination of silt build up and an outbreak of malaria started its decline in the 12th century and today only a few residents live there. It definitely had an abandoned feel to it.
Last, we headed to Burano which is known for their lace and colored buildings. The building were painted colorful so the fishermen could see them in the fog. Today is still a fishing community.
From there we head back to Venice, I parted ways with my British friends and walked back towards the hostel, stopping to see the Rialto bridge and some how taking the long way back. I grabbed a huge slice of pizza on the way. It was a sunny and warm day didn’t realize until I got back to my room that I had gotten sunburned. Sunburn in February, what!
The next day I booked a train ticket to Verona. It was a city I wanted to see so I figured it would be a good day trip from Venice. Many of the guided bus tours wanted like $150 and I got a round trip train tickets for $22. I used the app Trainline to buy and download my tickets, so it was super easy to show the ticket checker my ticket. I learned from reading another travel blog that the train display will show the end direction. So for my train I got on the first stop and getting off in middle and there were numerous stops after mine. I left Venice at 9:01am arriving in Verona a little after 10am.
Verona is the setting of the story "Romeo and Juliet". I left the train station and headed towards city center. My first stop was the Castelvecchio castle and Bridge which was an important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the city in the Middle Ages. From my research the best view of the bridge is from the riverbank of Adige River, so I took the stairs down.
From there I headed towards the Arena. I wasn’t planning on going in but tickets were $11 and I had tons of time, so I went exploring and I’m glad I did. I was interested to see it so preserved while the one in Rome isn’t. I climbed to the top and took in the views. The weather was sunny and warm, so I soaked up the sun.
The brochure says the arena amphitheater was built around middle 1st century. It is the 8th largest in the Roman Empire and the fourth in size among Roman amphitheater in Italy. Originally it could hold 30,000 spectators, but today holds only about half.
From there I walked down a pedestrian shopping street and came across many sites; the Piazza delle Erbe, Tower of Lamberti, which you can go up using the elevator or climbing stairs to the top for a birds eye view of Verona, I decided to pass. The Tombs of Lamberti, Romeo’s house and Juliet’s balcony and Church of Santa Anastasia. The first I went to see the balcony, it was super crazy, so I went back later when it died down and got my picture. It supposes to be good luck to touch the statue of Juliet but I didn’t want to wait in line.
From there I crossed the Ponte Pietra which is a Roman era bridge over the Adige river and made my way up to the top of the hill which gave me a free view of the city. There is a funicular train which also takes you to the top but I enjoy the views as I walked up and the cardio I got. From the top of Castel San Pierrot, which isn’t open to the public, the views were amazing. Since I had time I found a bench and enjoy the weather and views. After a bit I walked back down the hill and wander around the streets and made my way back to the shopping street where I window shopped. From there I headed towards the train station for my 3:50 train, getting me back into Venice around 5. From there I walked back to the hostel.
With getting a bargain flight, I wasn’t leaving until 7:15pm, so I had another whole day in Venice. After I checked out, I walked towards San Marco square and then headed towards to Castle section. I had never been on this side of the city. I wander around taking in the views and then found a bench in park and sat for a bit watching the boat traffic enjoying the sun. Then I grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch made my way to the bus stop which would take me to the airport. Another great trip in the books!
A teacher who loves traveling the world.