Days 5 & 6 - Venice 

The city of love! We arrived at the port and boarded one of three smaller water taxi boats to ferry us through the canals to our hotel.  I was in love from the beginning! The buildings along the waterways, all the different types of vessels bringing goods to the island, and the gondolas slowly transporting people to and fro. So much to see and ingest with all the different activities going on around us. 

The breakfast options were amazing and delicious!

Look at all those clams!


Our hotel was a short walk from where our boat dropped us off.  We had some free time to settle into our room and then we were off on an evening walk around Venice and dinner. 



Our group dinner at Trattoria Alla Scala was very fresh and satisfying! 

I had spaghetti with cuddle fish ink which, you may say, sounds and looks interesting. I have to agree, but it was so flavorful! I truly enjoyed it.  For my main course I had a fried seafood plate with shrimp, calamari and sardines. John had the spaghetti and clams and the sea bass.  For dessert we had the creme caramel and the panna cotta. It was a great meal!!!! 

The Lobby

  After that incredible dinner we walked to where Daniella had organized our gondola rides.  It was a beautiful night to be on the water with not a cloud in the sky.  Our gondolier, Mario, is a fourth-generation gondolier following in his father, grandfather and great grandfather's footsteps.  His ability to maneuver and steer through the canals was fascinating.  Not a simple thing to do, from our perspective.

As we found out gondola rides offer a unique perspective of Venice, allowing you to glide through its charming canals and admire the city's historic architecture, picturesque bridges, and bustling piazzas from the water.

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice and is known for its elegant design and historical significance. It spans the Grand Canal in the heart of Venice, connecting the districts of San Marco and San Polo.

The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast, we had a walking tour with our local guide, Ilaria, through the streets of Venice, across the canal and into the huge open market.  Ilaria was excellent and we learned a wealth of information about Venice's history and present. 

The Venice streets are lined with small businesses selling a variety of goods, small cafes and private residences.

This restaurant's focus is octopus! Be still my heart! I absolutely love octopus. Our friends do not necessarily share my adoration for polpo so I will have to return again and put this on my "to do list". I did get octopus in a couple of other dinners as you will see later.

Street musician playing glasses of water. She was quite good!

Part of our tour was a visit to one of four people, known as remeri, in Venice who make the forcola, or the rudder for the gondolas. The craftsmanship of the forcola is highly regarded, and each one is custom-made to fit the individual gondolier.  The art of making forcola has been passed down through generations.

The forcola is an essential tool used in Venetian rowing. It's a uniquely shaped oarlock that is integral to the iconic Venetian gondola. The forcola is crafted to provide maximum efficiency and control for the gondolier while rowing through the narrow canals of Venice.

Interesting fact: There are over 400 gondoliers in Venice, certification involves a minimum of 400 hours, and they must pass navigational and physical test to get their license.  Only one is a woman.  I kept looking for her, but I was unsuccessful. Also interesting is that for many gondoliers, it is a family tradition to follow in their fathers and grandfather's footsteps and is a great source of pride for them as was our gondolier.

Venice offers several vibrant markets where locals and visitors alike can explore and purchase fresh produce, seafood, meats, and other goods. Situated in the historic heart of Venice, the Rialto Market is divided into two sections: the Pescheria (fish market) and the Erberia (fruit and vegetable market). Mercato di Rialto Biologico, with a focus on organic products is located next to this market.  Visitors can stroll through the bustling stalls, admire the colorful displays of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables, and interact with local vendors. I could have spent hours here just wandering.


At the fish market, you'll find a wide variety of freshly caught seafood, including fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Common offerings include branzino (sea bass), sardines, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and scallops, among others. The options were overwhelming.

After our tour we set out on our own to find some lunch, check out a few churches, shops and retrace back to some of the interesting areas we had seen on our earlier walk. We walked with new knowledge about Venice. 

We had a lunch of crostini and other small bites which were very tasty and a spritz to drink.

We returned back to a small shop that had been pointed out to us on our tour selling Murano glass.  Venice, Italy, is renowned for its glassmaking tradition, particularly on the island of Murano, which has been a center for glass production for centuries. We didn't have time, on this visit, to go to the island where this glass is produced but we did buy some earrings and a necklace. Hopefully we will have time on the next visit. 

After a wonderful day, we found a restaurant in our Rick Steves' book for dinner, with another couple from the group.  It was delicious and I took full advantage of another seafood meal! The risotto in Italy was the best I have ever had! Whenever I saw it on a menu I had to try it, especially if it was paired with seafood!

The staff was incredibly attentive and helpful.  The food was spot on!

The pasta was so good and fresh in Italy. Always fresh.

Risotto with seafood

Seafood ravioli

There are so many incredible sites to explore in Venice, each offering a glimpse into the city's rich history, culture, and architectural beauty. Whether you're admiring the magnificent basilicas, wandering through winding alleyways, or enjoying a leisurely gondola ride, Venice promises an unforgettable experience. We were in awe our whole visit to this incredible city.

The main square of Venice, Piazza San Marco is surrounded by architectural treasures such as St. Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, and the Campanile (bell tower). Our visit to St. Mark's Basilica and its history was amazing! Definitely one of my favorite churches on this trip. We saw a lot of churches!

It's a bustling hub of activity and a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike, Piazza San Marco, the main square of Venice, is surrounded by historic landmarks. While the square itself doesn't have many restaurants directly on it due to its historical significance and architectural prominence, there are several restaurants and cafes in the surrounding area where you can enjoy a meal, people watch and listen to strategically placed musicians.

St. Mark's Basilica at dusk.

St. Mark's Basilica early morning before the crowd's arrive.

Venice's unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a truly enchanting destination and a must-visit for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. Venice, we will be back! On to Florence!