We finally went to Venice in November. It was every bit as magical as we’d expected.
You can’t get lost in Venice. There’s no crime. There are no worries. None of us fell into a canal.
It’s a great place to wander around with little or no itinerary.
Get gelato and explore the little canal sidewalks and bridges.
Find a cafe on busy canal and get a drink to watch the people. Be sure to read the posted menus so you’re not surprised by the cost! Most restaurants have a surcharge. Know how much you’re supposed to pay for that cocktail or coffee.
Venice survives almost on tourism alone. While most of the wait staff are very nice, we did have some who were bland and even unfriendly.
We flew on RyanAir from Frankfurt Hahn to Venice Treviso. We bought RT tickets at the airport for the ATVO bus into Venice. It was about an hour on the bus. It dropped us off right at Piazzale Roma.
We walked to our apartment since we were so excited and it’s not really on the vaporetto route. Of course, the main walking route is littered with touristy kiosks and shops.
Our apartment was huge: Appartamenti del Dose in Cannaregio. (Cannaregio is the northernmost of the six historic sestieri of Venice.) We were able to checkin early which was great to drop off the luggage and freshen up.
Then we set off!
I used Rick Steve’s Venice guide.
We were starving, but not wanting to waste time, so we grabbed some pizza by the slice at Arte Della Pizza and it was really quite good.
We began with our Grand Canal cruise. We walked back to Ferrovia and boarded the slow boat #1 vaporetto. It took us all the way to San Marco. It’s about €7 for a ticket and well worth it for the 45-minute ride. It wasn’t very crowded and we were able to get seats all together in the front of the water bus. The weather was outstanding, partly sunny and almost warm.
I read the trivia and history to the kids and it was a great tour!
We arrived in San Marco Square.
It is a must-do to “ride” the lions for a picture.
We decided to go ahead and tour the basilica since there was no line at all. The church is free, but if there’s a line, you can pay €2 for a reservation to skip the line.
Three lovely sights inside: Treasury for €3, Golden Altarpiece for €2, and the San Marco Museum for €5. There are children’s discounts. There’s a free restroom and drink vending machines inside the museum.
The church is stunning with gorgeous mosaics.
The Treasury has some lovely artifacts and bone relics that fascinated the kids, so it was worth the admission fee for us. the 600-year-old crosier is still used by the priest on holy days!
The Golden Altarpiece is a not-to-miss sight. It was absolutely breathtaking. I could hardly tear myself away.
The museum was nice. It’s worth it to get to go up on the outside balcony with the horses and get a nice view of the square. From the indoor balcony (where the women viewed mass) offers a great view of inside the basilica.
Then we got gelato and looked the Bridge of Sighs.
We walked back to the apartment in a roundabout way, taking the side tour St. Mark’s to Rialto walk from the Rick Steves book.
We saw the Scala Contarini del Bovolo just as it was getting dark and closing. It’s pretty pricey to just go up a spiral staircase, but it’s pretty to see through the gate.
We dropped the kids off and found a grocery store around the corner to stock up on food and things. We popped some pizzas in the oven for the kids.
Aaron and I went around the corner to eat dinner together at L’Orto dei Mori. It was highly recommended and we had amazing wine, rushed service (because we didn’t have a reservation), and the food was rather plain and boring.
It was a great first day.
We did a Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge’s Palace.
Our guide was awesome and very patient with the kids. We got to see all the places not open to the public and the stories were so fun and exciting! We also got to really explore the dungeons and look from the inside out on the Bridge of Sighs.
Then we were turned loose into the public rooms and I read from the Rick Steves book all about those.
We ate lunch at the cafe in the Correr Museum. It was a great view and yummy simple pasta and sandwich dishes for an ok price. The Aperol spritz is delicious, but the Campari spritz is bitter and tastes like cough syrup!
We didn’t think the museum was really worth the price. Our teen recently read Sisi about Elizabeth, Princess of Austria, and was fascinated with her apartments, but the rest was just ok. There were a few notable paintings on the Pinoteca floor.
There are €16 combo tickets for the Doge Palace and Correr Museum that offer a good deal if you don’t want any special tours.
The girls and I picked out handmade masks at Papier-Mâché.
We explored the Libreria Acqua Alta and got some fun pics in the back.
We walked some more and saw some pretty sites.
We again popped some pizza in the oven for the kids at our apartment.
We had a delightful and utterly romantic dinner at Ristorante Trovatore. We had a pretty outdoor courtyard all to ourselves.
We walked on the other side of the Canal and read about the history of the Venetian markets. I used the Rialto to Frari Church Walk in Rick Steves’ book.
View from the Rialto Bridge:
We toured the market and discussed the canal rising. There was a lot of construction, so we couldn’t see everything on the walking tour.
The kids and I went inside the Church of San Polo. Many churches in Venice have a small surcharge of a few € for adults, but kids under 12 are free! The art in this church is magnificent. It’s one of the oldest churches in Venice, dating to the 900’s.
We adore Tintoretto’s Last Supper and Tiepolo’s Virgin Appearing to St. John of Nepomuk. Domenico’s Stations of the Cross in the chapel are stunning. Veronese’s Betrothal of the Virgin with Angels is ethereal.
We ate lunch at Antica Birraria la Corte. Everyone was happy – pizza, pasta, seafood, local unique appetizers, great wine, and even an incredible burger. Seriously, it was an amazing burger.
We were on a mission to find a fox mask for Alex. We went to 3-4 shops under Rick Steves’ recommendations and finally found a lovely one at a great price. We found his fox mask and a mask for our teen daughter at Tragicomica.
We got gelato.
It started raining pretty hard in the afternoon, so we pulled up our raincoat hoods and walked closer to the shops, under their awnings, and dodged people’s umbrellas.
We toured the Frari Church. It was great with a lot of Titian paintings and his magnificent tomb is there.
The Canova Monument holds his heart inside the pyramid. We’re into art.
But we didn’t bother paying to go into Scuola San Rocco. €10 per person is a lot to pay to view a small ceiling and I love Tintoretto, but we had to pass. We could view it through the open doors for a minute.
We got more gelato. It was cheaper on this side of the canal.
We got the kids some pretty takeout sandwiches and pizza from Antico Forno to warm in the oven.
Aaron and I ended up at Osteria Barababao for a light dinner of salami and drinks. I finally got my Bellini! and we learned that a martini in Venice is not the cocktail, but the sweet liqueur by that brand name.
We took the vaporetto to the islands of Murano and Burano.
We bought 12-hour vaporetto day passes for €18 at Fondamente Nove.
We disembarked at the Colonna stop on Murano.
We didn’t go into the Glass Museum. It’s €8/person.
I didn’t like any of the glass shops recommended. Much of it looked the same to me and we didn’t like any of the modern looking glass items.
We got some lovely pastries at a bakery to enjoy while we explored.
We stepped into Santa Maria e San Donato Church and enjoyed part of mass. It was a welcome break from walking and lovely inside.
There was a factory outlet store on the way to the vaporetto stop that had some just fine items we liked at a much less price.
The kids each got necklaces. I got Venetian pearls and a pretty vase. Alex got some glass penguins.
Near the lighthouse is the stop to leave Murano for Burano.
We explored the darling canals with pastel-colored homes.
We ate lunch at Pizzeria Bar Sport. Lots of different spaghetti and pizza to make everyone happy. Great soave wine in little or regular bottles.
We explored the little church of San Martino Vescovo with its leaning tower.
We picked out a lovely tablecloth with matching napkins at Merletti d’Arte dalla Lidia. They have their own museum in back of their shop and the ladies were so helpful and kind and showed us so many items we were dizzy. There was even a delightful little grandma who spoke absolutely perfect English who demonstrated her lace-making talent for us on a pillow sham she was working on. The matching duvet cover was stunning.
The Lace Museum (€5 per person) was fun and we got to watch several ladies making lace by the window upstairs. The kids had fun looking into the glass-covered drawers at all the lacy fabrics.
We got gelato on the way back to the vaporetto stop.
We took the #12 boat direct back to Fondamente Nove. It was a long day.
The kids had pizza at the apartment.
Aaron and I had dinner just around the corner at Restaurant Diana. The service was really atrocious, but the food was pretty amazing and great prices.
Katie went with Dad to see the Jewish monuments and ghetto memorials.
We passed by the place where Marco Polo once lived. Probably. Maybe.
We saw the Scuola Dalmata di San Giorgio with lovely art featuring St. George by Carpaccio. It was pricey, but the kids all agreed it was worth it and even pretty upstairs with the fancy altar.
We saw the Scala Contarini del Bovolo again. It’s very pricey to just go up a spiral staircase for a view, but it’s pretty to see through the gate.
Then we played at the public park and relaxed and strolled around.
We had the most delightful late lunch/early dinner at Vittoria Sas di Alessandro, overlooking the lagoon. We ordered pizza, several different pasti, salad, and Amarone wine that was to die for.
We bought some wine and cicchetti from the shop on the corner Vino Vero.