I have wanted to visit Venice all my life. The chance popped up in 2007 when I toured Europe with one of my oldest friends Jess. I told her I really wanted to share the experience with James so we went to Florence instead.
After a short but crammed Easy Jet flight from Nice to Venice, we walked out of the terminal and into the yellow sunshine. We walked for 10 minutes, down a path to the boat dock and loaded ourselves into our private transfer on route to the Canareggio district.
Our driver was full of Italian charm and good looks too. Single ladies, follow my advice and get yourselves to Italy! We swayed in the waves and took photos, marvelling at how amazing the sights were. The kids absolutely loved every minute of it. Harriet was impossible to hold as she squirmed out of my arms, wanting to climb over the back seats of the boat!
As the sun was setting, we pulled into the smaller canals of Venice and docked right in front of our hotel. We booked a hotel for 1 night because our Air BnB apartment wasn’t available till the next day.
After a quick freshen up, we crossed a bridge and sat down at a busy little trattoria on the canal.
Marlee dazzled us all as she ordered in fluent Italian and conversed with our waiters. We gorged on pizza and pasta as we watched the people crossing the canals, posing for photos and laughing and enjoying each other’s company at dinner. I wept tears of joy as I marvelled in the beauty of it all. So quaint. The colours, the canals, the vaporettos whizzing by. It was so bloody lovely, it could have been a postcard!
Every morning James and I would venture down to the local cafe and devour a cappuccino and toasted parma ham sandwich. The italians don’t seem to eat breakfast, instead opting for an espresso at the cafe counter and then a very long lunch, usually including lots of wine or prosecco.
The children loved watching the boats whizz past, tooting as they passed each other so closely, I wondered in amazement how they never actually hit each other.
Marlee took Abi to choose some special masks for her upcoming 6th Birthday. They had a set budget and had to choose masks for everyone in the family. I was really pleased to see Abi proudly come home with 6 beautiful masks, well under budget too.
One evening, we dined in a little trattoria right next to a canal and main pedestrian bridge. The signboard featuring fresh home made pasta lured us in. With so many tourists about, we noticed many restaurants would comprise quality for quantity and often serve frozen pizza bases or boxed pasta which was just criminal in Italy! The chef’s Nonna would turn in her grave if she found out! Our meals here consisted of ragu bolognese, salad, bread, wine and veal. A trio jazz band began to play as the sun set and we danced amongst the trees, watching the colours change on the walls as the sun set. People watched us dancing, our little family of 6, children twirling and laughing. An American couple came over to me and praised us for having such well behaved children. I explained to her we have been travelling for 3 months and she was shocked to hear how resilient the children have become to new surroundings.
On our big day of sightseeing, we walked to the central train station and hopped on a Vaporetto which took us out in the grand canal to St Mark’s Square. The journey lasted 1 hour, swaying over the waves as we picked up and dropped passengers at various stops all over the town. We were not prepared for the onslaught of tourists in this area. Without a doubt, the busiest place we have visited on the journey thus far. It was hot, sunny, crowded and noisy. Ted was overwhelmed by it all and had a little cry. We decided to walk back in the cool side streets to our little local area. The walk took nearly 2 hours, as we zig zagged the canals, crossing bridges and turning corners. We didn’t get lost once, a true victory in Venice.
We rewarded the kids with a gelato on the way home and decided to order them pizza for dinner which they consumed in our apartment and fell asleep quickly. James and I wandered the streets and enjoyed some pasta at a tiny table on the canal. We watched a huge storm roll in, lightning that lit up the sky like fireworks. It began to pour rain as we walked into our apartment and continued to storm throughout the duration of the night. It was quite a loud and frightening storm, I huddled under the doona, hoping the kids didn’t wake from the bellowing thunder.
On our last day, we decided to throw down some serious Euro for a tourist gondola ride. Our gondolier was dressed in the usual Venetian get-up, with his striped shirt, flat hat and tanned skin. We heard facts about the canals, but mostly just enjoyed the sights as we drifted down tiny canals, barely wide enough for our boat.
And just like that, our 5 days in Venice were over. We packed our bags and enjoyed another gorgeous boat ride back to the airport. Our driver, equally as gorgeous as our first driver, helped us lug everything onto the dock and we made our way to the rental car area to collect our van for the long drive down to Tuscany.
Venice was everything I hoped it would be, and more. My heart was completely satisfied with the experience, my eyes seeing colours and traditions that are unforgettable. The children loved the experience too, everything was quaint and safe and unique. I would highly recommend Venice for families. Avoid the main tourist area as much as possible and indulge in an unknown and unpopulated district to really enjoy the traditional and local way of Venetian life.
Arrivederci Venice! Ciao!