By: Jacqueline Kirby Zonkowski
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What do you think of when you think of Venice? Personally, I think of James Bond & Vesper speeding through the canals, and masked ball attendees fully adorned in Venetian masks. And, it is that, definitely, but so much more also.
The first time I went to Venice was for my friend Hailey’s 30th birthday. Just us girls in the most romantic city in the world. Let me tell you something, I think Venice is just as good for a girls trip as it is for a getaway with your lover. She and I had so much fun. We strolled the streets, drank wine at little bars looking onto the canals, flirted with the waiters at all of the restaurants, and took in the gorgeous scenery.
While with my boyfriend, I did much of the same, except all of my flirting was directed at him. He and I, however, did embark on a gondola ride, something I would recommend saving for a lover’s trip. We brought a bottle of prosecco aboard and drank it while listening to our gondolier give us just enough information to educate without boring us.
I have a group of friends I travel with, The Bambini, if you will. They have been to Italy many more times than I have but never Venice. “There’s nothing to do there. We will be bored.”
False I tell them! There is actually a lot of stuff to see in Venice. I’ve spent about a week there and its just not enough time to see everything. The beauty is unparalleled. Really, you want to spend a whole day just walking the canals, looking at all the wild trinkets in the store windows, and don’t forget walking through San Marco. Be sure to stop at Bar Al Campanile for a Ginger Mojito.
Visit The Guggenheim
I’m a museum lover. Before I go somewhere I check what exhibits are on at the museums around town. Italy is famed for its museums. It’s one of my favorite things about the country, there’s always something to see. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is situated beautifully on the Grand Canal and is small so you don’t have to allocate a whole day like some museums.
Hailey and I stopped in after lunch, walked around, relaxed in the garden, and took in a quick lecture. The lecture part I would skip because who was asked what they thought of the art? Me.
“What do you think this piece is?” Asked the gentleman doing an internship.
“Well, I think it looks like an ant.” I retorted.
“Interesting. Its actually a woman in the throes of passion.” I kid you not. Once he walked through each line of the sculpture with me I understood. Yes, I recognize that now. Definitely, most certainly NOT an ant. I tell you this to explain that you don’t need to be afraid of art or visiting museums. Art is meant to be interpreted in many ways, thats why its universal. Hence, sometimes we resemble ants.
Ride the Alilaguna
Yes, the Alilaguna is just the water taxi, but its a cheap way to cruise the canals and enjoy a sunset. When Michael and I were in town we picked the farthest trip to Lido from our taxi stop and took a ride at sunset, getting some incredible views.
It’s also the cheapest, yet probably longest way to get to and from the airport. Early morning flights are brutal but it sure beats paying for a private water taxi. Unless of course, you really want to look like George and Amal, then take the private taxi and send us pics!
This is something I wish Hailey and I had done simply because there are so many bars you can hop around to easily. Michael and I came out here and spent a wonderful evening strolling around. He was amazed that this part of Venice actually had cars, so be careful when you cross the roads.
We stopped for a few Spritz’s at one of the bars and just took in the scenery. There were a lot of people out but none of the bars seemed overcrowded. The one we stopped at had an outdoor space so we just sat and enjoyed the evening.
You can also spend the day out here enjoying the beaches or if you’re here in September, look out for the Venice Film Festival.
Dine at Club del Doge
This part will set you back a pretty penny, but its worth every cent. When Hailey and I were planning the trip for her birthday I knew we needed to do something special. After a little research I found The Gritti Palace and Club del Doge. The staff is very friendly and the food is amazing. They brought us out a cake for her birthday that was so unreal, I dreamt of it after it was gone.
Once Michael and I decided to add Venice on to our trip last fall I knew we had to go there. I made a reservation and put a little note in that it was my birthday. This time we sat out on the terrace looking out onto the Grand Canal. Its a scene for sure so put on something pretty, you’ll need it for your Instagram! We shared a salmon tartare and each ordered a pasta dish. While both were delicious, mine was so light and flavorful and perfect for eating in the warm sun. I had the Spinosini and Michael had the Fusilotti. I recommend getting both!
Towards the end of our meal I was craving my cake, alas, they brought it out to me and all was right in this world. Michael was blown away by the whole experience and he’s a pretty tough critic. For me, Club del Doge has since dubbed this my Happy Place. This is a must do. If you’re going to Venice you have to splurge on at least one meal.
Visit Murano and Burano
You’ve probably heard of Murano glass before. Every time my Grandma would come to Venice she would always bring me back Murano jewelry. These two little islands are an easy trip on our dear friend the Alilaguna. You should head out early because most of the stuff on the islands closes early. Hence why I have actually never been!
Michael and I tried to go out there and as we were buying the tickets the woman working the stand informed us we would be bored at that point in the evening. So, 5 days and I still haven’t had time to get out to these places! Definitely on my list for the next time I visit. As is Trattoria al Gatto Nero, which was recommended by a friend. One of her favorite places to eat in Italy!
So for all of you sitting on your laurels saying, “One day I’ll get there.” I suggest you get on board with all of these cheap flight deals and get your butts to Venice! Because Venice is sinking. Our gondolier confirmed it and I would absolutely hate for any of you to miss it!