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Vibrant Venice

  • Exploring the waterways of Venice, Italy
  • Famous sights including St Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge and the Doge’s Palace
  • The sounds, smells and tastes of classic Venice
  • One of the Riviera Travel team takes a trip to Venice

by Sam Dorsett, Reservations Department

On the approach into Venice Airport I started to wonder, “Is this plane equipped to land on water?” I could not help but be amazed by the tiny winding canals getting closer and closer below until I suddenly saw this grey expanse of concrete which was the seemingly very short runway. This unique experience was the introduction to my home for the next five days – Venice.

So off we went on our coach transfer to the port to get our taxi. Now I know what you must be thinking, but this wasn’t your typical London black cab or yellow New York taxi. Instead it’s Venice’s very own version: the water taxi.

Weaving in and out of daytime traffic passing locals busying themselves with their everyday chores, and the boats that ferry people to and from the island, it suddenly dawned on me just how reliant the Venetians are on these boats and their waterways. It is the only way to access the island.

The boat came to a standstill at its mooring point and there was a very still silence – nothing but calmness. No heavy traffic, lorries, cars or motorbikes, no beeping of horns, just the beautiful reflection of the midday sun on the grand canal.

On the first day of our walking tour, I really couldn’t help but be amazed by my surroundings, it was like we had stepped into a tiny model village. Weaving through the narrow back streets over the intricate bridges and along the canal paths, I was already in complete awe of Venice. Glancing up I couldn’t help but notice how old and rustic the buildings were. The houses were adorned with window boxes, spilling out a trail of the most richly coloured flowers. Freshly washed clothes draping over the washing lines cast shadows over the canals, and just the sweet scent of jasmine in the air. I was so taken in by my surroundings that by the end of the 45-minute walk, it seemed like only five minutes had passed.

Serenity spun into madness as we found ourselves in the busy and vibrant St Mark’s Square, occupied by every nationality imaginable taking in the wonderfully ornate surroundings, along with the local pigeons who could call the Square ‘home’.

Venice grand canal

Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

I stepped back in amazement to take in the splendour of the beautiful, imposing St Mark’s Basilica. For me, this was the highlight of the tour. On entering the Basilica, I was blown away by its beauty and could not help but feel moved. I think that visiting this Basilica should be on everyone’s bucket list, so please do go and experience this wondrous feeling for yourself.

Next stop, coffee… or so I thought. In every direction, I could see table after table of crisp, white linen tablecloths and crystal-clear wine glasses with a splash of orange colour, against a spectacular, turquoise backdrop – the Adriatic Sea.  My next lesson in the world of a Venetian was an introduction to the ‘Aperol Spritz’, an orange cocktail mixed with prosecco then poured over crushed ice that’s the traditional tipple of Venice, and all I will say is, ‘Mamma Mia!’

I spent a pleasant hour or so people-watching, soaking up the atmosphere and observing the gondolas bobbing up and down on the lagoon. It was then that I realised I was sat in exactly the same spot as where our brochure photograph must have been taken. What a memorable view of pure, beautiful Venice!

Over the next few days I absorbed as much as I could of all the wonderful sights and sounds of the city, including the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace and a visit to the incredible island of Murano, where quaint and colourful houses, elegant gift shops, and a small ice-cream parlour selling the most delicious gelato, lined the streets. Murano, famous for the production of its glass, offered us the opportunity to visit the factory where the same family have worked for many generations, creating the most amazing, vibrant masterpieces. It really is a must for souvenirs!

Venice is just one huge museum waiting to be discovered. From the dainty backstreets to the twists and turns of the canals, every little pizza parlour, pavement cafe and the famous gondolas. I’ve really only touched the surface of this city and cannot wait for the day until we are reacquainted.

Please visit our website to view details of our tour to Lake Garda, Venice & Verona, and our Lake Garda & the Best of the Veneto for Solo Travellers.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.