Exploring Venice in Half a Day

My aunt Louise and I recently got back from our latest vacation together to Venice, Italy. We go on trips together once a year or so, and as her husband is a Major League Baseball scout, he’s often busy during the summer. So we set off for Italy to get on a Norwegian Cruise out of beautiful Venice. Before we got on our ship, we had little more than half a day to spend in Venice, and we decided to make the most of it.

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We had a bit of a delay flying out of JFK, and as a result we missed our scheduled gondola ride early in the afternoon. Nonetheless, we had a lovely day getting lost in Venice, and here are some tips on how to enjoy your one day in this Italian gem of a city.

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We took a shuttle from the J. W. Marriott just outside the city (Louise had enough Marriott points for us to stay there for free), and docked in San Marco Square in the afternoon. Once you arrive in the square, you are taken aback by the amount of people and the music that fills the air. Across from the Doge’s Palace, there is a cafe with a live band. I wouldn’t recommend eating there unless you want to spend 100 Euro on lunch for two, but you can listen to the music for free as you walk by.

We began to wander past the clocktower and basilica (which was closed) towards the Rialto Bridge. There are signs all through the side streets, so if you’re a savvy traveler it’s easy, if not manageable, to navigate. We admired the Murano glass shops in addition to the Gucci and Armani as we walked by, and got some lovely shots of the canals and gondolas as we made our way. 

Louise and I arrived at the Rialto Bridge and honestly had to take a second to admire the view. We took some photos and came across a Venetian mask shop on the steps of the bridge. It was a small shop with beautiful masks in the window called La Bottega dei Mascareri, and somehow photos of the artist with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, and Jeff Bridges hung in the window. Turns out, Louise bought a mask from the same artist twenty five years ago. His name is Sergio Boldrin, and he designed the masks for the studio film The Man In the Iron MaskSergio is a local Venetian who takes his artistry very seriously, and is also responsible for helping to revive Carnival in Venice. His masks are all high quality works of art, and I’m so happy I purchased one during my trip!

After visiting the Venetian Mask shop, we headed for a place we had researched before our trip: Nino & Friends. It’s a small Italian chain located in Sorrento, Capri, Siena, and Venice that sells Italian staples: limoncello candies, pesto, olive oil, and their best seller cappuccino cookies. And they give out free samples as you walk in! Louise and I stocked up on their pesto (which is to die for), and their cookies before heading to a small cafe for dinner. If you want to go shopping for Italian staples, look no further than this fine spot!

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Once we finished our meal, Louise and I headed do the one thing we had truly planned on our day out in Venice: get lost. And the one thing no one tells you about venturing into Venice is the quiet. There are no cars, so no honking, sirens, or tire screeching (which I hear a lot of in New York). We slowly wandered through the streets, admiring the architecture and indulging in some great finds at local shops. We found quite a few places we want to highlight, but we’ll save that for a later post.

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We noticed the Bridge of Sighs in the background and decided to get a picture before making our way to a place my aunt had recommended: Hotel Danieli. This hotel has been around since the 1400’s, and walking into this luxury hotel feels like taking a step back in time. I wouldn’t recommend staying here as it will net you $700/night, but you can walk into the lobby and have a drink at the bar while listening to the piano. Louise and I had a Bellini (which is native to Venice), as we admired the marble columns, Murano glass chandeliers, and mahogany walls before heading back to the hotel. 

I do have a few regrets from our trip to Venice. Not taking a gondola ride, visiting Doge’s Palace during our visit (museum nerd that I am), or stopping in Suso’s for gelato. But overall this was a great way to spend a day in this wonderful city!

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