First selfie upon arrival
Amanda and I arrived at Santa Lucia train station in Venezia at 14:10 CEST on Monday, July 25. We exited the train station and walked over the Ponte degli Scalzi bridge, where we took this photo. We knew we would cry 2 times on our honeymoon: right after we arrived in Venice, and right before we left. It had been 6 years since we were last in Venice, and we had forgotten how unbelievably beautiful it is. The moment you walk out the doors of the train station and into the bright glow of Venice is somewhat like that moment in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy walks out of her sepia toned house and into the Technicolor of Munchkinland. We had been traveling for 19 hours, we were tired, hungry, and needed to check in at our hotel, but at that moment, all of that disappeared, and all we could think was, "Oh my gosh, we're in Venice!"
Ca' San Giorgio, our hotel
For our honeymoon in Venice, we decided to stay at the same place we had stayed in 2010: the lovely Ca' San Giorgio bed and breakfast. Located in the Santa Croce sestiere, right by the Fontago dei Turchi, this family-owned lodging is very special and unique. We stayed in the room on the very top floor, which features an "altana," or roof-top deck. The people who run Ca' San Giorgio were so helpful and friendly, and made our trip so much more special.
Our private altana at Ca' San Giorgio
This is the private rooftop deck, or "altana," that was part of our room at Ca' San Giorgio. Ours was the only room that had one and it came to epitomize the relaxation part of our vacation. We ended every day on the altana drinking wine and staring up at the stars. At night the only sounds you heard were an occasional boat passing by on the nearby Grand Canal. Surrounded by terracotta roofs, it was so peaceful, private, and perfect.
2016 vs 2010 Comparison: Rio del Megio
One of my goals for our visit to Venice was to recreate some of the photos I had taken on our previous visit in 2010. The challenge in doing this is that Venice can be hard to navigate, so finding some of these locations again was quite hard. Luckily, the architecture of Venice hasn't changed much in the last few centuries so it was a fun challenge. In fact, the image quality of my photos has changed more than the subject matter itself. The canal in these 2 photos is located just around the corner from our hotel, so it was one of the first things I recognized upon our return.
Rio de San Polo Canal
For some people, the best views in Venice are of St. Mark's and other old churches; for others, it's the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. But for me, the image that most evokes the look and feel of Venice is the lovely, narrow canals and gothic arches above windows and doors. I noticed this perfect view of the Rio de San Polo canal in the San Polo district, or "sestiere", on our first walk from the hotel down to the Rialto Bridge area. It's amazing for me to think that, in over 1000 years, very little about this particular view has changed, except the glass panes in some windows, and motors on boats.
First meal: Riva Del Vin, along the Grand Canal
For our first meal in Venice, we wanted to eat somewhere as close to the Grand Canal as possible. We got our wish at Riva del Vin, where we were seated so close to the Canal that the water actually splashed up on my feet (after which a couple of seagulls laughed at me). For my meal, I chose to be adventurous and ordered Seppie alla Venezia con Polenta, or Venetian-style Cuttlefish in a black ink sauce with polenta. It was amazingly delicious (quite salty though). It was a perfect first meal of the trip, as we enjoyed being right by the Canal and the Rialto Bridge, in the heart of the city.
Gondola near the Rialto Bridge
For hundreds of years, Gondolas were the primary mode of public transportation around Venice. Today, they exist as more of a fun and pleasant ride, whereas the Vaporetto water buses are the quicker, cheaper way to get around. A typical Gondola ride costs about €80 and lasts about 30min. I found this particular Gondola parked near the Rialto Bridge and used the opportunity to get an up-close shot with my wide-angle lens.
Gondola passing under Ponte dei Baretteri
After our first meal of the trip, it was time to go visit Venice's main tourist spot: St. Mark's Square. Along the walk from the Rialto Bridge to St. Mark's, it was hard to not stop at every single bridge and take photos. This particular one was non-optional though. It, for me, epitomized the quintessential Venetian canal scene: warm red buildings, cool green water, a quaint little bridge, flowers in windows, and a gondolier with a red-striped shirt and blue ribbon hat. This photo is now the desktop wallpaper on my computer.
Basilica San Marco corner angle
The current Basilica San Marco dates back to the mid-11th century, though there were 2 previous versions of the church that date back to 832. In the 1000 years that the Republic of Venice existed (697–1797), the church was never the city's official cathedral; it wasn't until 1807 that it earned that designation. During its lifetime, the Basilica and its surrounding Piazza have undergone many changes, fires, and enhancements. When I first saw the Basilica in 2010, I had never seen such a beautiful building anywhere in the world. Since literally thousands of photos are taken of this building every single day, I wanted mine to look a bit unique. Using my wide-angle lens, I was able to capture this interesting perspective, which highlights the intricate details and awesomeness of St. Mark's.
Palazzo Ducale corner angle
The Doge's Palace, located right next to St. Mark's Basilica, was the residence of the ruler of the Venetian Republic during it's existence from the 7th century through 1797. Like most other buildings surrounding the Piazza San Marco, it has been changed and expanded many times over its lifetime. There is no better example of Venetian Gothic architecture than this amazing Palazzo. As you can see in some later photos, the interior is even more amazing than the outside. I tried to capture it from the same sort of angle as the above photo of the Basilica.
Pigeons on a lamppost in the Piazzetta San Marco
The Piazza San Marco is obviously full of hundreds of tourists every single day. But the other lifeform in this Square that easily outnumbers human beings are the pigeons. There are probably 3 pigeons for every 1 human. This area in front of the Doge's Palace where the Piazza meets the water is called the Piazzetta. The two columns at the southern end of the Piazzetta feature statues of the Lion of St. Mark and St. Theodore (who was the patron saint of Venice prior to St. Mark). For many years gambling was permitted in this area, and public executions sometimes took place between the two columns. Today, it is a beautiful area filled with souvenir vendors, outdoor cafes, and hundreds of humans and pigeons.
San Giorgio Maggiore seen from the Piazzetta San Marco
The Piazzetta of St. Mark's is fronted by the Bacino di San Marco, which is part of the Laguna Veneta, which is part of the Adriatic Sea. Across the Bacino from St. Mark's, you can see the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore, which is adjacent to the larger island of the Giudecca. Despite San Giorgio Maggiore's proximity to the Giudecca, it is part of the San Marco sestiere, whereas Giudecca is part of the Dorsoduro sestiere. The edge of the Piazzetta San Marco along the Bacino is sometimes called "The Molo," which is part of the much longer Riva degli Schiavoni, which stretches all along the southern border of the San Marco and Castello sestieri.
Santa Maria della Salute
At the Art Institute of Chicago, there is a painting by Michele Marieschi from 1741 titled simply, "The Church of Santa Maria della Salute" (you can see it on their website here). Although it's not always on display, it's Amanda's favorite painting of all-time. So when we came to Venice, I wanted to take a photo of the church that evokes Marieschi's painting. The Basilica is situated at the eastern-most tip of the Dorsoduro island, where the Giudecca Canal and Grand Canal meet and feed into the Bacino di San Marco. Since the area across the Canal from the Basilica is mostly private patios and restaurants, this little dock was the best angle I could get for my photo. The Basilica was constructed in the mid-17th century, as an offering to help deliver the city from an outbreak of the plague.
Sunset glow along the Grand Canal
At the end of our first day in Venice, Amanda and I sat along the Grand Canal—not far from where we had lunch earlier that day—and ate gelato. There is a term in photography known as the "golden hour" where the sun is redder and at an angle, right before sunset. This photo perfectly captures that moment, as the sun illuminates the warm colors of the buildings across the canal, and creates cool, contrasting shadows. When I look at this photo now, it almost brings tears to my eyes as the place almost doesn't look real, yet I remember sitting in that spot like it was yesterday.
Beautiful morning walk to the Rialto Market
On our second day in Venice, we decided to walk down to the Rialto Markets—not to actually buy anything, but just to look and smell. It was a beautiful and very hot day and, even from the distance in this photo, I could already smell the fish. Venice has always been known for its markets and merchants and, in the days when Venice was accessible only by boat, this was the only place to get fresh meat and produce.
Inside the Campo della Pescheria
When you enter the old Fish Market at the Rialto Market, the smell is overwhelming. Fresh fish of all shapes and sizes, caught that same morning, lay on ice on long tables throughout the room. Venetians have been shopping at the Rialto Markets since the year 1097, and it is still where many of the chefs in town get their fish. The fish barges start delivering their stock at dawn, and the vendors start selling around 8 a.m. By noon, everything has been sold and most of the vendors have already cleared out. In this photo, you can see Amanda off in the right-hand corner.
The Giants' Staircase in Palazzo Ducale Courtyard
Inside the Doge's Palace, there is a large courtyard with a huge staircase leading up to the museum exhibits and old council chambers. At the top of the stairs are statues of the gods Mars and Neptune (a bit odd considered the Venetian Republic was ardently Catholic), which represent the Venetian Republic's power on both land and sea. When a new Doge was elected, the coronation ceremony took place on this staircase. The staircase was built in the late 15th century and is so massive that this photo doesn't do it justice.
Sala del Collegio in Palazzo Ducale
Most would agree that Titian and Tintoretto are the two greatest Venetian painters in history. The latter's work is featured quite prominantly in the Doge's Palace. This particular room, the Sala del Collegio, features Tintoretto's painting "Andrea Gritti, assisted by St. Mark, in front of Mary and the Saints Bernardino, Luigi and Marina" (above the door at the end of the room). Andrea Gritti was one of the great Doges in the early 16th century. The Sala del Collegio was the room where foreign delegations and important persons were received by the Doge and his six councilors.
Amanda with 'Il Paradiso' in the Great Council Chamber of Palazzo Ducale
The Sala del Maggior Consiglio, or Chamber of the Great Council, is not only the largest room in the Doge's Palace, but one of the largest rooms in all of Europe. This is where meetings were held by the Doge and the Great Council, the most important political body in the Venetian Republic. When a fire in 1577 destroyed part of the Palace, an old 14th-century fresco painting in this room was lost. To replace it, Jacopo Tintoretto and his son Domenico created, "Il Paradiso," the massive painting you see on the wall in the back. It is, in fact, the largest canvas painting in the world, and is truly awesome to behold. In addition to Tintoretto's masterpiece, there are dozens of amazing paintings all throughout the room, and the golden ceiling is simply beyond description. I thought it would be fun to have a photo of Amanda with this massive painting inside this massive room.
San Giorgio Maggiore seen from Great Council Chamber of Palazzo Ducale
Also inside the Great Council Chamber of the Doge's Palace is what I've personally deemed "the Best Balcony in the World". It looks out the south side of the Palace on to the Bacino di San Marco, with San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance. Given that the balcony is several hundred years old, it is no longer safe for people to stand on and is roped off. Nevertheless, I could've stood there all day staring out at that amazing view.
Amanda overlooking Palazzo Ducale Courtyard
One of the windows of the Great Council Chamber looks out on the courtyard of the Doge's Palace. Although I have other photos of this courtyard that were taken with my nicer camera, I love this photo best because the look on Amanda's face seems to say "this is all too beautiful to be real." In the lower right corner you can see part of the Giants' Staircase also shown in a photo above.
View of the Bacino di San Marco from Palazzo Ducale window
Here's the view out another window of the Doge's Palace. You can see the southern edge of the Castello sestiere of Venice stretch down to the far eastern edge. The large area of trees down at the very end is the Giardini, which is where they host the Biennale Art Festival. I love all the boats going in different directions and how incredibly blue the water and sky are.
View of San Giorgio Maggiore from inside Bridge of Sighs
Few people may realize that the famous Bridge of Sighs was actually part of a prison. It connects the Doge's Palace to the Prigioni Nuove, or New Prison. The name "Ponte dei Sospiri" was created by the famous poet Lord Byron in the 19th century, from the idea that prisoners would sigh at their last view of Venice before going into the prison. On the bridge down below, you can see the multitude of tourists taking many photos, probably not realizing there are people like myself inside the bridge taking photos of them, as well.
View of Bridge of Sighs from Riva degli Schiavoni
Here is the view of the famous Bridge of Sighs that most people are more familiar with. You can see the tiny holes in the bridge from where I took the previous photo above. The bridge was built of white limestone in the early 17th century, and passes over the Rio di Palazzo canal. I was fortunate to capture this photo right as a pigeon was flying right over the Bridge and several gondolas were passing underneath. You can also tell it is nearing sunset at this time: a legend suggests that if you kiss on a gondola at sunset while passing under the Bridge at the same time the bells of St. Mark's are ringing, you will be granted eternal love.
Rio del Mondo Novo Canal
After leaving the Doge's Palace, we continued to explore the Castello sestiere. A lot of this involved getting lost and then refound again. The getting lost was, however, somewhat on purpose; many people will tell you the number one thing you need to do in Venice is to simply let yourself get lost amongst the canals, campos, and calles. The best thing about getting lost in Venice is that, no matter where you end up, everywhere is beautiful and you won't care how long it takes to find your way again.
Arsenale di Venezia
The Arsenale is a major tourist attraction in Venice that is often overlooked. It is, however, arguably just as important as the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark's Basilica. If the Rialto represents the Venetian Republic's economy, and St. Mark's represents its religious traditions, then the Arsenale represents an equally vital part of its history: the building of warships and maritime trading ships. The present structure was built in 1104, though there's evidence that ships were built in this area as early as the 8th century. At one time, it spanned 110 acres (about 15% of mainland Venice) and was the largest industrial complex in Europe until the Industrial Revolution. Although Henry Ford is often credited with inventing the modern assembly line, the process was arguably in practice for hundreds of years through the Venetian Republic's mass-production of ships. This photo depicts the entrance and Porta Magna. You can also see a kayaker going by near the entrance.
Rio dei Greci
In the Castello sestiere is the Chiesa di San Giorgio dei Greci, a church that, from the 16th through 19th centuries, was the cultural and religious center for the Greek community in Venice. In this photo, you can see the belltower on the left just past the bridge. Alongside it runs the Rio dei Greci canal. This region of Castello became known as the Greek area, where the Scuola dei Greci confraternity thrived, until the fall of the Venetian Republic.
Selfie near bridge with flowers
Amanda and I took this selfie on a bridge over the Rio de la Procuratie, which runs just north of Piazza San Marco. In fact, right after you cross this bridge, you are basically entering St. Mark's Square. The bridge with the flowers behind us is a private bridge owned by a nearby lace shop. There are many different paths that lead into St. Mark's Square, but we found this one to be less congested. The bridge we are standing on is also a "love locks" bridge, which are common throughout Venice and all of Europe.
Enjoying a lovely, peaceful gondola ride
Our first gondola ride of the trip was like a dream, and easily my favorite of the 3 total Venetian gondola rides I've taken in my life. The gondolier actually had his young son with him and told us that the gondolier tradition has been passed down from father to son in their family for generations. He took us from Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini out onto the Grand Canal, then back down the Rio del Megio, which connects to the Rio del Boldo. Both of these run very close to Ca' San Giorgio, our hotel, in the peaceful Santa Croce sestiere.
Portrait with our gondolier
Here we are with our gondolier at the end of our gondola ride. His son took this photo of us (their idea actually, not mine). You're really not supposed to tip gondoliers, but I gave him an extra €2 "for your boy," which he seemed to appreciate. He was truly a seasoned expert in the gondolier tradition, and a very polite and pleasant gentleman. He would sing and whistle as we slowly glided through the very quiet canals, and would make a sortof "oi oi oi" call before turning a blind corner. I am not exaggerating when I say that this particular gondola ride was one of the best experiences of my whole life.
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
This Basilica, commonly known as "The Frari," is in some ways even more impressive than St. Mark's. It was built in the 14th century in the San Polo sestiere, and is the final resting place of many famous Venetians, including: 4 Doges, the great 17th century composer Claudio Monteverdi, the great neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, and, last but not least, the famous 16th century Venetian painter Tiziano Vecelli, better known as Titian. While inside the church, Amanda and I saw a woman laying flowers and crying at Monteverdi's grave. While the exterior of the church is a fairly simple plain brick in the Italian Gothic style, the interior is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Tomb of Titian in the Frari
Thousands of people died when a plague ravaged Venice in 1576, and the government had a law that the bodies must be dumped on to an island or into the sea. However, they made one exception to this law when the plague took the life of the great Venetian painter, Titian, who was interred in this great tomb in the Frari. Titian's birthdate is unknown, but when he died he was somewhere between his late eighties and 100 years old. In the top middle of the tomb you can see an engraving of Titian's most famous work, "The Assumption of the Virgin," which still hangs in the high altar of the Frari.
Ponte dei Pugni Fruit Market Boat
One of our goals on Wednesday was to explore more of the Dorsoduro sestiere of Venice. There were several churches in that area we wanted to see, but we also knew it would be less crowded than the San Marco or San Polo sestieri. Walking through the area, we noticed a lot more of what looked like locals and people who were just going to work and running errands. We also ran across this neat little fruit boat, parked along the Rio de San Barnaba canal. In the distance you can see the Chiesa di San Barnaba.
Northwest view from Ponte dell'Accademia
Many people seem to regard the Rialto Bridge and Scalzi Bridge (the one by the Santa Lucia train station) as having the best views of Venice. In my opinion though, the Ponte dell'Accademia has by far the best views. It connects the Dorsoduro and San Marco sestieri near the southern end of the Grand Canal. This is the view looking northwest from atop the bridge.
East view passing under Ponte dell'Accademia
Whereas the previous photo shows the view from atop the Ponte dell'Accademia looking northwest, this view is from below the bridge looking the opposite direction. The yellow-ish building on the left is the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti (a 16th century palace where cultural events are now held), next to it the Palazzo Barbaro (a 15th century palace where American artists would meet in Venice), and in the distance is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I took this photo from the back of a Vaporetto heading up the canal.
Selfie on Ponte dell'Accademia
Here's another photo looking east from atop the Ponte dell'Accademia. At the time of this writing, this photo has become my profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and is the featured image on the homepage of this website. It's one of my favorite photos of Amanda and I have ever taken in Venice, and captures a moment when we were right in the middle of our honeymoon, and happier than we'd ever been before.
Walking up Granviale Santa Maria Elisabetta on the Lido
On Wednesday afternoon, we took the Vaporetto out to the island of the Lido, which is a 7 mile long sandbar located southeast of Venice. It is quite different than mainland Venice in several ways, not least of which is that there are cars and roads. The main artery of the island is the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, which leads directly from the vaporetto stop on the Laguna Veneta side of the island, over to the beaches on the Adriatic Sea side. There are many shops and hotels along this street and, while it feels more like an American beach town than an island in Northern Italy, it is just as beautiful and fun.
The beach on the island of the Lido
Going to the beach on the Lido was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Mainland Venice is obviously amazing and full of history and beautiful sights, but sometimes when you're on vacation you just want to sit in the sand, put your feet in the water, and relax. While there are many private beaches and resorts, the most popular are of course the free public beaches. The Adriatic Sea was the warmest water I've ever experienced (although not nearly as clean and clear as the Mediterranean). The island has a lot of history also: in 1177 the Treaty of Venice was signed here by Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick I; in 1202 soldiers from the Fourth Crusade covered the island waiting for their ships to be built; and in the mid-19th century it became one of the first-ever "sea bathing" beaches in the world.
San Marco seen from Vaporetto
I took this photo on the Vaporetto ride back from the Lido. It was interesting to see St. Mark's Square from a distance on the water, rather than from on land. I remember thinking, what if this was my very first view of Venice? Whereas most people nowadays arrive on the north side of Venice via train, car, or plane, hundreds of years ago many visitors would have likely arrived by boat from the south and seen this view first. It looks surreal to the modern eye, like a city conceived in a dream.
Gondola with accordion player seen from Vaporetto in early evening
This is another photo I took on the Vaporetto coming back from the Lido, as we were passing under the Rialto bridge and the sun was setting. What's significant here is that it isn't just another gondola: they have also hired an accordion player to ride with them. We saw a few like this on our trip and it always made me smile. Venice is a pretty quiet place, even on the Grand Canal, and the accordion music is easily audible from a distance. I also think that Venice looks its most beautiful in the early morning and just as the sun is setting.
View across the Grand Canal of Ca' Vendramin Calergi at night
This was one of the photos I shared on social media while we were still in Venice. It was taken just a few steps away from our hotel, where the Salizada del Fontago dei Turchi (the street our hotel was on) ends at the Traghetto di San Marcuola dock along the Grand Canal. This photo was taken in the late evening, before it was totally dark, as we were headed out for a walk. It received a very positive response from my Facebook friends, as it captures Venice at a special moment, with the dark blue sky and yellow lamps reflecting on the water. The palace across the Canal, Ca' Vendramin Calergi, is now home to both the Venice Casino and Wagner Museum. The famous composer Richard Wagner died of a heart attack there in February 1883. We would walk down and look at this view every evening before we retired to the hotel for the night.
Long Exposure: Late night walk through Cannaregio
When we first visited Venice in 2010, we took a walk through the Cannaregio sestiere at night and I took several long-exposure photos (between 30 and 60 seconds) from bridges. I decided to attempt this type of photographic experiment again, and had even better results. This one was taken on the Ponte delle Guglie, which is the first bridge you reach as you walk northeast from Santa Lucia station. As I was taking the photo, a police boat with its lights flashing sailed underneath the bridge and afforded me this cool shot. The photo is tilted at an angle because there was no level surface on the railing of the bridge. On the top of the building in the middle of the photo, you can see a big private altana. On the left you can see a red awning over an outdoor cafe, which is where we ate dinner on our last night.
2016 vs 2010 Long Exposure Comparison: Campiello Agusto Picutti
As I attempted to take some late night long-exposures walking through Cannaregio, I also tried to take the same photos in the same locations as I had in 2010. This one was the most difficult location to find, as the alley was somewhat hidden and unmarked. We actually passed by it several times before finally noticing it. On the bottom you can see the original photo from 2010, and the new one from 2016 on top. You can see the graffiti on the left wall has been painted over and covered up by theatre advertisements. It also looks like a section of the cobblestone bricks was patched up with actual bricks. The photo is tilted because I had to rest my camera on top of a phone booth with a rounded top.
2016 vs 2010 Long Exposure Comparison: Hotel Antico Doge
Of all the late night long exposures I tried to recreate, this was one was the most difficult to capture—not because of the location, but because getting the right exposure/lighting setting was quite tricky. The canal is very dark except for the limited lighting in the outdoor seating area behind the columns. The 2 photos look somewhat different due to my use of a wide-angle lens in the 2016 version. The boat in the lower right corner looks blurry as it rocked back and forth in the water during the exposure time. For all these comparison photos, it's easiest to compare the two versions by clicking the photo and opening it in the lightbox viewer.
2016 vs 2010 Long Exposure Comparison: Ponte degli Scalzi
For most people, this is their first view of Venice. It's the same bridge where the first and last photos on this page were taken, right by the Santa Lucia train station. Of all the late night long exposure comparison photos I took, this one was quite difficult because it was taken in the most crowded area. Even at night, there are dozens of people just hanging out on this bridge. The church on the left is San Simeone Piccolo, which had a giant illuminated advertisement on its front in 2010. In both photos, there was a boat passing underneath us, which is no surprise given there are many boats navigating this area at all hours of the day.
Rainy morning walk through Dorsoduro
When we woke up Thursday morning, it was raining. This threw our plans off a bit, but we eventually decided to just make the most of it. Our hotel provided us with free umbrellas and we walked off towards Dorsoduro. As you might imagine, even the rainy days in Venice are lovely in a unique way. The water on this canal was so amazingly still, and the colors of the water and the architecture took on a different tone in the rain. We were fortunate this was the only rain we saw on the trip, but I'm happy I was able to see Venice in this conditions.
Exploring the amazing Ca' Rezzonico on a rainy day
Given the rain on Thursday, we decided to go visit Ca' Rezzonico, a beautiful old palazzo in the Dorsoduro sestiere. The building began construction the mid-17th century, but was not completed until over 100 years later, due to the death of the original architect and bankruptcy of the original owner. Although it is now a museum, it doesn't really feel like one as the furniture and art are organized to give it an authentic palazzo feel. The building has a lot of history: Carlo Rezzonico (of the namesake family) went on to become Pope Clement XIII; the late 19th century painter Robert Barrett Browning owned, restored, and lived in the palazzo for about 20 years; and American composer Cole Porter once rented out the whole place for a month in the 1920s. While there are many beautiful rooms in the house, I chose this one as it was one of the first rooms we saw and really shows the grandeur of the home.
Charlie having a drink at Osteria da Toni
After we left Ca' Rezzonico, we were amazed to find that not only had it stopped raining but had become a beautiful, sunny day! We walked south through Dorsoduro from Ca' Rezzonico down to the Rio de San Trovaso canal. By that time we were ready for lunch and found a nice, outdoor cafe called Osteria da Toni. The buildings in this area were especially colorful and the water seemed to have a bright green glow. We sat by the canal and I enjoyed una pizza e una birra.
Amanda having a drink at Osteria da Toni
While eating lunch at Osteria da Toni on Thursday, Amanda enjoyed one of Venice's signature drinks: the Aperol Spritz, which is prosecco, a bitter liqueur called Aperol, and soda water. This particular meal ended up being one of our happiest moments of the whole trip, as the rain had cleared and we found a lovely cafe with very tasty food and good service. The area around this canal was so quiet and peaceful that you could hear a boat coming from a mile away. I love this photo of Amanda so much that I now have it hanging up in my cubicle at work.
Pizza Magherita at Osteria da Toni
No collection of photos of a vacation in Italy would be complete without one of pizza. This particular pizza margherita, at Osteria da Toni in the Dorsoduro sestiere, was probably among the best I've had in my whole life. There are obviously a broad array of pizza toppings you can get in Venice, but sometimes the best way to go is just classic margherita style.
Colorful houses in Burano
Thursday afternoon, we took the Vaporetto out to the island of Burano, which is about a 40min ride northeast of mainland Venice. Burano is primarily known for 2 things: the lace-making, and brightly colored houses. The city itself it kindof like a smaller version of Venice. A common thing I found here is doorways covered by a blanket or thick drape, instead of an actual door. It was nice to come here and see some of the rest of the Veneto region.
Vineyard and Campanile in Mazzorbo
Burano is connected to the neighboring island of Mazzorbo by a footbridge. Compared to Burano or mainland Venice, Mazzorbo is very rural, with much more trees and grass. It is a very sleepy island, with vineyards and orchards separating scattered, old houses and stores. We decided to walk through the island and catch the Vaporetto back to Venice here instead of Burano, which allowed us to get a quick glimpse of it. As we were heading to the Vaporetto stop, I noticed a break in a long brick wall and sneaked through to find this beautiful vineyard near the island's large campanile. The late afternoon sun was brutally hot when we were in Mazzorbo, otherwise we may have stayed longer.
Old Venetian Violinist
Several people have already told me this is their favorite of all my Venice photos. After we arrived back in Venice from our trip to Burano and Mazzorbo, we walked from the Fondamenta Nove Vaporetto stop, along the Salizada dei Spechieri. As we passed through the Campo dei Gesuiti, I noticed an older gentleman beautifully playing the violin. I gave him €1 and took this photo, with the late afternoon sun shining down the intersecting streets. You can barely see the blue water off in the distance. What makes the photo so beautiful is not just the warm lighting and colors, but the sense of peacefulness and simplicity.
2016 vs 2010 Comparison: Chiesa di San Geremia Portrait
On Friday, there were two important photos I wanted to take, which were both recreations of photos I took in 2010. This one was especially important, because the original photo has been framed on my desk at work for 6 years since our 2010 visit. It was taken on the Fondamente Riva di Biasio, not far from our hotel, with the Chiesa di San Geremia and Canale di Cannaregio in the background. Amanda is wearing the same dress in both photos, although I no longer own my shirt from the original. It's too bad that green, red, and blue boat had to be there, but it does add a bit more color to the photo. It's amazing how much has changed between these two photos: in the 2010 photo, we had been boyfriend and girlfriend for only a year and a half; in the 2016 photo, we had been married for one week and together for 7½ years.
2016 vs 2010 Comparison: Amanda bridge portrait
When you spend every day of your life with someone for 7½ years, you don't always notice how much they grow up over time. When I edited together this last 2016 vs 2010 comparison photo, I was amazed at how much Amanda had matured, as well as how much she still looked the same. She's standing on the same bridge, wearing the same dress, and still wearing her glasses on top of her head. Yet one photo is of a 23 year old girl only out of college for a year, while the other is my wife, with whom I have shared many adventures and experiences. I love how, in the 2016 photo, the morning sun is highlighting her hair, making it look like almost a different color than it was in 2010. One thing that hasn't changed: she's still the same beautiful woman I love!
Rialto Bridge and Hotel Rialto
Of course I had include a photo of the Rialto Bridge, as it is to Venice what the "Mag Mile" is to Chicago (i.e.: the most popular place that people buy overpriced stuff). However, the Rialto was unfortunately under construction during our trip, meaning the sides of the bridge were closed to pedestrians and there was a lot of construction equipment in the area. I chose to use this photo because it doesn't show much of the construction and captures some of the beauty most people know of this famous bridge. Similar to Chicago's "Mag Mile" I am not a huge fan of this part of Venice, as it becomes so congested that you almost cannot move. It is quite beautiful, however, to see it from down on the water.
Wide angle view of Piazza San Marco
Although this photo was taken on Tuesday, I moved it toward the end of the page to create a contrast with the panorama photo below. This one is taken from the far western end of St. Mark's Square, with the Basilica and Campanile in the distance, whereas the one below is taken from on top the loggia at the Basilica looking the opposite direction at the whole Square. I like this photo because it has fewer people than what you'd normally find, which allows you to focus better on the architecture. Hopefully this photo captures how truly enormous the Piazza really is.
Piazza San Marco Panorama
One of the main things we wanted to do on our last full day in Venice is something we had sortof been avoiding the whole week: go inside St. Mark's Square. The lines to get in had been horrendously long, but the lady at our hotel informed us of a special pass that allows you to skip the line. We toured the amazing interior of the Basilica and were finally able to go out on the Loggia dei Cavalli, which is an exterior balcony-like area on the upper level of the front of the building. "Cavalli" refers to the 4 horse statues that grace the front of the building. The view from up there was simply breathtaking, and a great opportunity for a panorama.
Portrait on the Loggia dei Cavalli of Basilica San Marco
While we were up on the Loggia at St. Mark's Basilica, we were asked to take a photo of another family who was up there. They then returned the favor for us, which resulted in this great portrait of us, with the Doge's Palace and Bacino di San Marco in the background. That day I learned that seeing St. Mark's Square and the Bacino from the ground is not the same as seeing them from up above. When you're not surrounded by the crowds and pigeons that crowd that whole area, you get a better sense of how perfect of all looks. While we were touring the inside of the Basilica, there was an area where no photography is allowed and is strictly for people to pray. I gave an offering and went in this area and prayed that Amanda and I's marriage would last forever.
Last selfie before leaving
As I said at the beginning, we knew we would cry 2 times on this trip: once when we first arrived, and again right before we left (which was true). But what we didn't know is how truly hard it would be to leave. The week we spent in Venice wasn't just our honeymoon, but easily the best week of our entire lives. It was a week full of love, beauty, relaxation, fun, history, amazing food, and so much more. We took this photo on the Scalzi Bridge right before heading back into the Santa Lucia train station. While we may be smiling in the photo, inside our hearts are breaking and we are trying to contain our emotions. We tried to tell ourselves how fortunate we were to have had this incredible experience, and that we still had another day to enjoy in Milan before flying home, but the simple fact is that we would have stayed in Venice forever if we could. It is the greatest and most beautiful place we've ever been, and one of the most important and unique places in world history. While we will surely return to Venice many times throughout our lives, there will never be another trip like this one, because it was our honeymoon, and it was absolutely perfect.