I first visited Venice when I was 15 and I can still remember the name of the hotel in which we stayed. It was the Hotel Commercio & Pellegrino and it's still in operation today. The room we stayed in was tiny and the bathroom was literally a hole in the wall.

The hotel was very close to the Piazza San Marco and after spending some time in the Piano Lounge at the Hotel Danieli we used to spend our evenings in the square around the boarded up fountain. I don't think I'd have the chutzpah to waltz into the lounge at the Danieli these days.

It was the depths of winter and there were few visitors and I found Venice with it's dead ends and canals a bit eerie but I loved it. I've been back twice since then but not since 2005, when I stayed in Dorsoduro. Dorsoduro was a pretty quiet location but even in 2005, Piazza San Marco was crazy busy - but not like 2023.

At the recommendation of a friend I stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast in Cannaregio near the Jewish ghetto. 

Cannaregio was also crazy busy, but the spacious apartment on the 3rd floor was a lovely refuge from the crowds below. 

I arranged a full itinerary and walked my shoes into oblivion days one and two before I purchased a 48 hour ferry pass so I could visit the islands. I discovered a very convenient ferry stop just around the corner from the apartment and from then on I tootled around the canals on vaporetto's.

Now here's the thing - I do not like crowds, so my time in Venice was always going to be a bit stress inducing. I knew it was going to be busy but it was a level of busy I had not expected. The streets were so narrow and so crowded one was swept along in the throng. 

I soon learned to go out by 7.00 am to avoid the crowds and to get a mostly clear view point for photography, but not at at the Piazza San Marco. 

The Square is a mess of scaffolding at the moment, so it is not looking it's best. I found many historic buildings both in Venice and on Torcello in the same state of restoration. 

I found couples having pre-wedding shoots; a film crew blocking the view of the Bridge of Sighs and most annoyingly, a (male) instagrammer clogging up the colonnade of the Doges Palace for 10 minutes + posing for his female friend, whilst looking to get the best shot. 

I did my best but returned to Cannaregio a bit frustrated. Maybe I need to return to Venice in Winter.

When I wasn't doing my best to avoid the crowds I visited the most beautiful supermarket in Venice, the Despar Teatro Italia, a mere 4 minute walk from the flat and the Rialto food market

Everything in the markets looked wonderful but without a kitchen in which to cook, I really couldn't buy much. Instead I frequented the local osteria, Al Mariner, for bowls of seafood pasta

A letterpress shop I wanted to visit was closed for lunch so I walked around the district to fill in the time. I stepped into one of the most beautiful churches I've every visited, the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta 

There was no queue to enter and I paid one euro upon entry which was used towards renovation costs.

I was blown away by the interiors.

The surprise package was the convent next door, which had been converted into a hostel, the Combo Venezia.

I could only visit the public areas which included 2 beautiful quadrangles.

and the staircase, complete with marble flooring and frescoed ceiling.

I did a day trip the islands but that deserves a separate blog post, so look out for that soon. 

On my last full day in Venice I visited the Fortuny Museum and the International Gallery of Modern Art and passed this beauty in my travel, the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti.

The final flourish was the rooftop view from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi Department store. 

Yes you do have to book your spot on the terrace 3 weeks in advance and you only have 15 minutes on the terrace, but the views over Venice were amazing and well worth the effort of waking at 4.00 am to ensure my slot.

Before I made my way to the Airport I caught a vaporetto along the Grand Canal just as the sun rose.

It was such a beautiful experience with an almost empty Rialto Bridge.

And just like that the holiday was over and I was heading to the Airport for my flight (s) back to Sydney. 

I'll be back soon with my visit to the Venetian Islands.

Bye for now,


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