Venice is by far the most romantic and charming city that I’ve ever been to. Everything here has a soul, from the canals snaking around the city, the old brick houses with Arabic-style windows, the grey stone walkways to the black wooden gondolas carrying loving couples. To me every moment was memorable, but if you ask what I love the most about Venice, here’s my top five:

1/Get lost in the tangle of canals, bridges and streets of Venice 

I’m not a fan of city maps. Most of the time in Venice, I just took aimless walks and surprised myself. You never know what awaits you behind that tiny ‘street’ corner. A small and secluded church that looks so plain from the outside but houses strikingly beautiful frescoes inside? A seemingly abandoned house covered with Virginia creeper? Or a shopping boulevard packed with people?

After all it took me only a few hours to walk from one side of Venice to another, including stops to take pix, shop, eat, play with doves, admire the canals from the bridges and discover the old churches along the way.

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2/Venetian street food

Since G wanted to try eating something light and Venetian, we stopped by Acqua e Mais for seafood snacks. Situated at Campiello dei Meloni in the heart of the main shopping area, the store invited tourists in with appealing window food displays and irresistible smell of the city’s signature dishes. We lined up a bit for some fried squid and shrimps, and it was worth the wait. Our food was nicely wrapped in paper cones, tasted crunchy and very fresh.

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3/Visit Piazza San Marco during daytime AND at night  

…because the experience is very different. We first came here late at night when the square has been gloriously illuminated, and it was mind-blowing. It reminded me of St Peter’s square in Rome when I finally took some time off work to wander around the eternal city – my first and also last date with Rome. Anyway, we quietly stood in the middle of Piazza San Marco for a while just to enjoy the view and let our mind drift with the music from a live street orchestra nearby. I so cherished that moment.

We came back the following morning, and once again were stunned by the magnificent facade of Basilica di San Marco under the sun. This time the square was packed with tourists though.

img_8154Pigeons perched on a light pole in San Marco square

4/ The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is an icon of Venice and definitely a highlight of my trip. We went to the Rialto bridge to have the wide and open view of Venice’s major waterway as well as one-of-a-kind elements that make the city so special, e.g. the Venetian-Gothic architecture, the water buses, the gondolas, etc. Taking pix, even panorama, is not enough to capture the liveliness of Venice from here. A normal video would be too boring. So I added a little time-lapse effect to make it more fun!

5/ Carnival masks 

Venice is also known as the city of masks. We stopped at numerous souvenir shops in the city center to admire colorful and beautifully crafted masks that portray different characters on Venetian ancient stages. I was looking for something to wear at Halloween-themed parties and decided to try on some black masquerade half-masks which only cover the eyes. Looks like some of the most popular types here include the full-face Volto, the half-face Colombina and the Pantalone with the bizarre hook nose. But they are not cheap. Those catching my eyes the most cost about 150-200 euros, so I ended up buying three tiny Volto masks as souvenirs for 5 euros only. 😀

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5*/ Hope on a gondola or water-bus (vaporetto)

And there is 5 star. To be honest, it was so pleasant walking through the tiny but vibrant streets of Venice we did not even take gondola or vaporetto. But this is something we want to try next time for sure to visit the islands and around the lagoon. I guess it’d be another fun and worth-remembering experience!

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Want more Italy? Read my posts here.

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