Ciao Bella Venezia
Being married to an Italian has many benefits, the first is they don’t judge you for gaining about 10 pounds a week with an excessive diet of carbs, it’s all about pizza and pasta when you’re with an Italian. All the rage! Another plus is that I regularly get to visit my adopted hometown, Venice.
Two Reasons to Pack Light
I suggest you pack light and only bring hand luggage as once you’re in Venice, you’ll find there are a lot of beautiful bridges with steps you’ll need to cross and you don’t want to be hauling a heavy suitcase while you’re walking to your hotel. Another good thing about packing light is that you can visit the local PAM supermarket and stock up on all the local treats such as fresh Nutella breads, Gocciole Italian biscuits, Baci chocolates and copious amounts of pasta of all sizes and varieties. Trust me, an Italian supermarket is an experience all foodies will enjoy.
My Venice Must-Sees
Take a stroll around and visit the many different cathedral churches, take a few snaps on the Rialto Bridge, sip champagne with your lover on a gondola floating along the Grand Canal or breeze around San Marco Square and have an Italian espresso at the very famous hotspot Hotel Danieli. See if you can spot Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, they’re rumoured to be regular visitors to this hotel.
If you have time, take a day trip and visit Murano, Burano and Torcello, the three small islands off the Venice coast. The views of Venice are breath-taking.
If you’re visiting in winter, pack your wellies. When the water rises, business does not stop in Venice. The shops place metal bar gates in the front of the stores and the local council erect wooden boards and with that life goes on. Whether you travel to Venice in summer or winter, the city is by far one of a kind and you will fall in love from your first visit. I am lucky enough to have visited Venice on a number of occasions and nearly 10 years on since my first trip, the magic of Venice still excites me.
Sottomarina and Chioggia
If you have time and the sun is out, take a bus or rent a car and visit the beautiful coastal town of Sottomarina and Chioggia. They’re two of Venice’s best kept secrets. With barely any tourists visiting from the continent you can get to experience life in a real Italian town. To keep the little ones quiet there’s a small toy village called Astoria with a few amusements and a small water park. Typical prices for entry run between €5-€8 euros per child. Have dinner in one of the many pizzerias around the town or try the most famous pizza in the Veneto region from Pizzeria da Leo. You need to pre-order and can queue for up to 1 hour for your pizza, but trust me you will never ever eat pizza as good as pizza from Leo’s in Sottomarina. Take a walk across the bridge separating the two towns and grab a vino and chill in Barrufino bar in Chioggia. Sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere as the locals carry out their day to day routines.
Take a Boat Cruise
If you’re lucky enough to be around for sunset I strongly recommend you board the Motonave boat cruise. Tickets cost €10 each and the journey lasts around 1 hour. The boat slowly tours both towns and the lagoon area before stopping mid-way and turning around so you can see the town from one side and the sun setting over the Lagoon from the other. Having my hubby from this town, I am spoilt rotten that I have seen it all and done it all and I could not recommend Venice, Sottomarina and Chioggia any more highly.
You can’t beat Venice for a romantic break away with fine wine and food and you will most definitely come home relaxed and chilled.
Travel Tip: Fly into Venice Treviso airport and once you arrive, avoid the queues and jump straight onto the waiting coaches that will take you directly to Piazzale Roma, the last stop before heaven. If you don’t want to waste time at the airport you can buy your tickets on board.
Brian is a base supervisor in Ryanair’s Dublin base