Camping Village Venezia, VeniceApril 20, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C
Will had been dreading visiting Venice ever since we entered Italy back in late December. We almost made it in January but had to call it off at the last moment because Vicky wasn't well. As it stood, this famous island city was the last on our route before we moved on to Slovenia.
For €24 we booked into the Camping Village Venezia site, one of many within 7km of the city centre. We'd planned to cycle in but when we asked reception they told us it was a dangerous route and it would be better to get the direct bus for €3 return, details of which were on the map they presented us with.
Having bought our tickets at the site, we boarded one of the frequent buses and before we knew it we'd been driven over the sea on the long low bridge and were in Venice city centre! As we scaled the shallow steps of the gleaming white stone bridge and came to its crest, the view revealed was breathtaking. The waves stirred up by the relentless activity on the wide Canal Grande glistened in the sun. Plush black gondolas, sleek wooden speedboats, water taxis and larger tour boats zipped back and forth and forged ahead at a speed so much faster than seemed safe given how close they came to each other.
If the waterways were busy, the streets were even more so. In Venice waterways replace roads so the only two ways of travelling are by boat or on foot. Consequently there were porter trolleys carrying suitcases or shop deliveries being pushed amongst the awestruck tourists who were wandering or sticking the metal pole of a selfie stick out into the thoroughfare.
We found the delightful narrow backstreets were less busy and some shops sold genuine handmade items such as the lace shop displaying baby booties, tablecloths, camisoles and coasters. We discovered the quality of ice cream was good too, with surprisingly tasty scoops of turmeric, rose, tiramisu and ginger.
In contrast to Canal Grande, the small link canals were quiet and enchanting. Houses rose right out of the water and they were criss crossed with little arched stone or wrought iron bridges from where you could smell the sea that flowed underneath. Looking down from one of these we were surprised by the speed of water as it eddied around stone and wooden bollards.
It was difficult to find a route from one place to another because many of the pavements led to houses but not alongside them, meaning we were frequently doubling back on ourselves when we hit the dead ends.
We finally reached Piazza San Marco with its stunning basilica of the same name. We waited in line for quite a while and were taken in an elevator to the viewing platform of the 99m high tower. For us, part of the fun is being able to climb so we were a bit disappointed there weren't stairs. However, the view from the top was a good one, if a little chilly in the wind. We looked out over the sea to a few islands that seemed very angular due to the fact they were so built up. It was odd that due to the height of the buildings, we couldn't see a single canal, despite knowing there were dozens down below.
The queue for the basilica was shorter. It was one of the most 'over the top' buildings we've encountered on our travels. Outside clusters of pillars supported five intricately carved arches, topped by semicircles of golden mosaics, delicate steeples and statues. Inside, the gold theme continued with the complete upper floor and ceiling covered in it. The floor was decorated in ornate coloured marble designs. It was a large building with few windows so there was little light, making it seem a rather oppressive despite the opulence.
On our way back to the bus station we walked through the fish market area. The stalls themselves had been packed up for the day but the clear space allowed Will to see a gondola moored up at the canalside. The fancy gondolas that offered tours of the city cost €80 a time- a little on the expensive side! This however, was one of the trabocchi, basic service gondolas ferrying people from one side of the canal to the other. €2 each for visitors and 70 cents for residents. We were only on there for about 3 minutes, but it proved to be the highlight of Will's day! It was something real and useful, not for show like so many of Venice's attractions.
Back at the Camping Village Vicky was walking over to inspect the showers when she heard someone calling her name. It was fellow travellers the Grey Gappers, whom we'd met on Sicily. We knew from their blog they were in Slovenia and after a few messages back and forth we'd discovered they were going to be in Venice at the same time as us at a site just a few kms away. We invited them to meet up for a gelato but ran out of connection before hearing back. It was a brilliant surprise to find they'd changed their site plans and we caught up on the last month or so over drinks.
Later, Vicky took advantage of the handwashing facilities and we each used the site showers. The quality of showers at a site makes a big difference and these were better than the one we left behind at our house, with good heat and pressure, a properly separated section for changing and no push button taps - a real treat!Read more