So I had just two nights to squeeze in as much as fun, food and culture as possible into a trip to Venice with my kids. And boy we did manage to squeeze in a lot of all three – plus we have saved some activities for a revisit!
Day 1. Following a 3am start (yes 3am start) to catch the Ryan Air flight to the wrong airport (ie the cheaper one that you have to get bussed in from rather than the more glamorous Marci Polo boat experience) we arrived at Hotel Marconi overlooking the Rialto Bridge in Venice at 10am. As we couldn’t check in until 2pm we headed off to explore Venice for a few hours. It was a glorious sunny April morning so we jumped in Gondola for an hour for 60euros – negotiated down from 80 – I was quite proud of my bartering skills… Despite coming to Venice a couple of times I’ve never succumbed to this most touristy of experiences – and I must confess it was fab! The beautiful journey was accompanied by commentary from our friendly gondolier who told us interesting facts about the various buildings and canals we meandered passed and through.
Next we headed to St Mark’s Square and visited St Mark’s Basilica. A short sweep-browse inside the stunning church (for free) was followed by a climb up to the roof (10 euros for the three of us) where we were treated to amazing views over the square and the water to the south.
Then it was lunchtime – we wondered across the Bridge of Sighs and found a lovely square in the sun with a charming trattoria – fresh pizza washed down with prosecco and Coke (not together obvs) made for a most satisfying lunch.
After this we headed back to the hotel on the vaporetti for a lie down… Unfortunate we were so tired that when we boarded the line 4 boat at the San Marco stop we ended up going the wrong way – so our 4 stop 10 minutes journey became a 15+ stop hour-long journey during which we ended up practically out to sea! My daughter actually fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. I guess it is like going the wrong way round the circle line… Oh well – lesson learnt.
Refreshed from our siesta we headed out for our first night in this beautiful city. We found a small canal side cafe for a prosecco and a game of cards – and then headed to a lovely outdoor restaurant overlooking the Grand Canal for some amazing fresh pasta.
Day 2. After a filling hotel breakfast of pastries, cheeses, meat and fruit – it was time to wander up to the north of Venice and jump on the vaporetti at Fondamente Nove to Murano – we wanted to blow glass! The walk through Venice took us a good hour or so as there were so many beautiful sights and fab photo opportunities along the way. We then jumped on the line 12 vaporetti and headed to the glass-making island.
Initially we were taken to a free tour of a reasonably large-scale glass making factory – we were in a large group and there was no interaction. We just watched three men blow glass and make a very impressive squirrel. We were then very much encouraged to visit their showroom and purchase – we didn’t as were disappointed by our lack of glass blowing. Wandering back towards the boat stop I got chatting to a man who owned a small glass blowing workshop which for 3 euros each we could have our own demonstration and actually blow glass ourselves. After my initial hesitation he then offered us all the same for 5euros between us – I was fast becoming a bartering queen on this trip! And it was worth every penny. We watched an elderly chap make an amazing stallion from scratch and then he taught my kids how to blow glass – this was the experience we were looking for.
Glass blowing achieved – and believe me it’s harder than it looks – we headed towards to the small canal side area and enjoyed our second pizza of the holiday in the sunshine. We then wondered around several beautiful glass showrooms and shops looking for a birthday gift for my mum before jumping back on the vaporetti to the ‘mainland’.
At this point my boy was feeling rather tired (a bout of shingles two weeks previous had left him rather lacking in energy) so we took him back to the hotel for a lie down and then me and my daughter headed out for an hour’s guilt-free handbag shopping. It was lovely (tho we did miss him of course…). Handbag bought (29 euros genuine leather – stylish and fabulous) we went back to the hotel and dragged the boy out to look at the famous Rialto produce market which was lovely – and lively!
Then we wondered back across the Rialto Bridge to the other side and found a lovely back street eatery where we enjoyed yet more delicious homemade pasta accompanied by a glass of prosecco (me) San Pellegrino (them).
Day 3. We were flying home tonight so the day started with manically packing up the room. We left our baggage at the hotel reception, then after filling up on pastries, meats and cheeses at the breakfast buffet it was time for culture. As my boy seems to have developed an aversion to churches – which is a shame considering there are well over 100 stunning churches in the Floating City – it was time for some art.
We jumped on line 4 and stopped at the Palazzo Franchetti – the HQ of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettre ed Arti to see the Joseph Klinasky exhibition. It was fab (and free) – with artwork and installations that the kids and I really enjoyed. We then wondered over to the Peggy Guigenheim, which I was very keen to take them to. Sadly it was 20 euros each which was beyond my budget this time (if you hadn’t guessed already I was most certainly on a budget this holiday – and for once I was trying to stick to it!) so we had a peak through the railings and then wondered off in the sunshine to look at some galleries and art shops.
Lunch was – you’ve guessed it – a delicious homemade pizza in the sun –and then we did more wondering around shops and eating gelato, before heading back to the hotel to freshen up in time for dinner.
We ate a quick but delicious seafood meal overlooking the Grand Canal – and we were even treated to a singing gondolier moored just outside our table it was like the Cornetto advert of old – before grabbing our back packs and heading to the Piazza Roma to get our coach back to Treviso Airport (as I said before the wrong airport as my kids so charmingly call it – Venice’s Luton equivalent) for our Ryan Air flight home.
We had best time ever – indeed the mantra – eat well laugh often love much could have been written for our trip. We can’t wait to return with enough cash to visit the Peggy Guggenheim and fly into the ‘right’ airport as my kids would say!