The weather was gorgeous when we arrived in Venice, Italy. This was a city that had been on my travel list since I was 12 years old, so I was really excited to finally visit! It was warm and sunny when we arrived, a nice 12 degrees. We took a waterbus to Ca'D'Oro, where our airbnb was located in the Cannereggio district. After settling into our airbnb, we began our walk towards Piazza San Marco, with a stop by Ponte di Rialto. We passed by a Gelateria and of course, had to go get some gelato. This was by far my favourite gelato place during our short stay in Venice. Ponte di Rialto was lined with businesses with a gondola station right in front. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to go for a gondola ride while we were there - but that just means I'll have to go back sometime! We continued on to Piazza San Marco which was overrun with obese pigeons. We arrived just as the sun began setting which brought out the gold flecks on the Basilica di San Marco. The Basilica had tall gold ceilings, which were lit up by the rays of the setting sun. This was an incredible time to be in the basilica, and I'm so glad we were able to witness it. We also paid to climb up the Basilica and took close up pictures of the murals on the the outside, as well as the surrounding view of the Piazza. We later found out that the clear, sunny skies were an anomaly as typical Venetian days in December are incredibly foggy. Guess we were lucky!
We enjoyed a nice Italian dinner of pasta and wine in a local restaurant in San Marco district, and did some souvenir shopping before returning to our airbnb. By this time, it was incredibly foggy - especially around Ponte di Rialto. I bought a nice bottle of limoncello in a beautifully ornate Venetian bottle, and we made another gelato stop at our newly discovered gelateria before retiring for the evening.
The next day, I had arranged for a free walking tour of Venice. We grabbed a quick breakfast at a local cafe where we had espresso and a sandwich (or two). For those who may be planning a trip to Venice, keep in mind that there is often a "sit-in" fee if you decide to sit and enjoy your meal as opposed to taking out or eating/drinking at the bar! It was a foggy December day, and we ended up being the only group on the tour. This was nice because it was much more relaxed and our guide was able to tailor it based on our preferences. She was extremely knowledgeable and took us around the various districts in Venice. We explored small alleys, various canals, and she showed us the different facades for various buildings. One of my favourite stops was the Libreria Aqua Alta, which is one of the oldest bookstores in Venice. Because of the frequent floods, this bookstore stores their books in bathtubs and boats. In the back of the bookstore, the owners had built a staircase out of books that were damaged in previous floods. If you are ever in Venice, I do recommend a visit to this one of a kind bookstore!
Our guide left us in a nice local restaurant where we enjoyed some "cicheti" (essentially Venetian tapas). This was a delicious and affordable treat, and surprisingly filling! We also stopped by Gelatoteca Suso, the best gelato place in Venice. Our guide had recommended a few places for us to visit, however even with a map, we found ourselves getting lost quite often... it was a lot of walking, however we did manage to visit all of the places on the map. Unfortunately, half of them were closed (despite the fact that they were supposed to be open!) but it was an adventure nonetheless. After a long day of walking and exploring, we returned to the airbnb to rest for a bit before heading out for dinner.
We went to a local favourite in our neighbourhood, Trattoria Ca d'Oro alla Vedova. We started with polpette (Venetian meatballs) and had fresh pasta. The food was delicious, and the service and ambiance were more than I could have asked for.
With our stomachs fed and hearts full, we retired to the airbnb to rest up before our early morning trek back to the airport.