After just a week at home in the UK, I was jetting off once again to Venice! Venice is one of my favourite places and a city I find so fascinating. So, when I found out I would be returning with my family, I was over the moon.
If you don’t already know, Venice is made up of more than 100 small islands in a lagoon just off of mainland Italy. There are no cars or roadways, just canals and boats. It's home to many amazing palaces, the most incredible architecture and endless maze-like alleys and small squares.
As we were staying on the Lido (an island just off from Venice itself), our journey was a bit of a here, there and everywhere mission. Plane to boat. Boat to bus. So the relief when we finally got to our hotel was unfathomable. However, we got to see all of the sights, meet some of the friendly Venetians (more like get help from them) and really experience the place on our very first evening.
What’s so good about staying on the Lido is that is has a beach and you can really chill out. Unlike Venice, there are roads, cars and other vehicles, but it’s still a lot quieter. Plus, the architecture is just as cool in some places and there’s a lot more greenery.
The next morning, we were up in time for breakfast and we were ready for the day ahead of us. The hotel’s free shuttle bus took us to where we could get a boat, and a boat took us to Venice. In fact, it took us right to St Mark’s Square – the first point of interest on our list.
Here, we could see the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and Saint Mark’s Basilica. In the square is also a tower you can go up for panoramic views but we saved that for another day along with going inside all of the historical buildings. Instead, we did a bit of souvenir shopping, stopped at many cafés and simply took it all in.
As the day continued, we made our way through the narrow streets, along the canals and down authentic alleyways until we arrived at Rialto Bridge. This is Venice’s oldest bridge and probably the most amazing. Sadly, it was covered in scaffolding, sheets and advertisements due to renovation. This also meant that I couldn’t take photo of it at any point during the week.
Lunchtime came and we didn’t venture away from Rialto. We chose a restaurant by the side of the Grand Canal and ate pizza – as you do in Italy! It was after lunch with my legs dangling into the canal and over the water, with boats going past and old buildings towering over me that I was in awe of a place I love so much.
Another walk through the maze of alleyways took us to Saint Mary of the Friars – an old church converted into a museum. On display are huge paintings, detailed mosaics and other things painted in gold. Truthfully, this is just from memory from my last visit to Venice, as we only took a few steps inside before deciding to give it a miss.
Our plan was to walk a full circle back to St Mark’s Square as our hotel receptionist recommended, but we got a boat down the Grand Canal and back to Lido. From the boat, we saw what we needed to anyway – the Santa Maria Della Salute (one of my favourite landmarks in Venice). My mum even suggested we added it to the “go back to” list.
That evening, I decided to explore more of the Lido and the area around our hotel. It’s not the Venice that people know and that’s what made it so fun to photograph. Just a short walk down the road, I found a cool boat yard. I got a nice image, but boats kept coming and going so it was hard to shoot and was time to move on.
Just a little further down the road, I found an amazing spot by the water’s edge. The sun was setting and it was incredibly beautiful. Only a few boats passed by so it was completely tranquil. I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…
The following morning, I was back at it again exploring more of the Lido. This time, I was headed to the north of the island in search for the beach. I got off the bus and began walking. I started to get close and could see an amazing pink glow through the trees. It was like nothing I had seen before and was a perfect, peaceful morning. Birds were chirping, waves were breaking and the sun was quickly rising from the horizon. I had everything I wanted, expect from a full belly so it was time to go back for some breakfast. It was just a shame to see so much rubbish on the beach.
In honesty, I didn’t do much more with my day after that, as I was starting to feel a bit sick. My family went to Murano (an island that is famous for it’s glasswork), whilst I stayed in bed and rested. In the evening, we all went out for dinner on the Lido. We all seemed pretty content with the food and returned to the hotel for an early night.
The following morning, I made my way to St Mark’s Square. There were just a few other people around including two or three street sweepers. It was actually pretty quiet and somewhat surreal. Although there was a breeze in the air, it wasn’t cold at all.
Firstly, I started photographing the Doge’s Palace and then moved on to St Mark’s Square itself. The conditions were perfect but sadly the streetlights turned off super early – making the photos much less interesting. There wasn’t much of a sunrise either, but I still managed to find a few more shots.
Next, I headed to the Bridge of Sighs and loved the way that warm light was shining through the windows. Then, the sky started to get too bright so I decided that it was time for breakfast.
As the day went on, I became more and more sick. But, I was determined to make the most of my time and push through. We all wanted to go back to St Mark’s Square and check some more stuff out. First on the list was the Campanile (tower) as the public are welcome to go to the top (98m high). The queue wasn’t that long and the modern elevator meant that we could get to the top in no time at all and with very little effort.
Another thing that we wanted to do was check out the Santa Maria Della Salute – a 17th century church that was built to commemorate the ending of the plague. I hadn’t been inside it before so, when I got the chance, it was a real treat. I also took the opportunity to take some photos. The idea was to use a long exposure to blur people and add interest.
As most of my family went to look around the Doge’s Palace, I headed back to a spot I had found earlier in the day. It is opposite the Salute and home to lots of gondolas. From here, I could really show off the church’s architecture and use the gondolas in my foreground. It was a great place to chill out, but it was hard to avoid vaporettos and other boats in the shots.
The next place I headed to was once again St Mark’s Square, by the water’s edge. The clock tower on San Giorgio Maggiore in the background and gondolas in the foreground make it a classic shot and one that many other photographers were trying to get.
For that shot, the sun was in the perfect position to cast the clock tower in amazing light. The sunset happening behind me was equally as amazing. No other word could describe it.
After spending the next morning on an abandoned and supposedly haunted Island, we got a boat to Burano. Burano is an island known for it’s colourful houses about an hour away from Venice. The reason for the colourful houses is that the fisherman living in the island would paint their homes with whatever remaining boat paint they had.
There were a few points of interest that I wanted to photograph (including the canals and clock tower), so I stayed until sunset. If I weren’t so ill, it would’ve been the perfect end to the trip. The sun was shining and the atmosphere was great. It was a shame to think we would be leaving the next day!