Our Italian escapade… the ‘good to see’ when in Venice…

Venice truly is a beautiful and magical city. It would have been nice to take our own sweet time to really explore the city if we had more time … but still … we did manage to cram quite a lot of sight-seeing during our 3 days stay there.

Even though it was interesting to visit the famous Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge … it was the walk through the many streets and alleys and footways along the narrow canals that really fascinated me … and made Venice a magnificent place to visit … as far as I am concerned!

Although … I have to confess that without the hubby… I would have got lost in the myriads of narrow alleys and canals and bridges that we had to go through during our walk … even with a map on hand! Yes … I am not ashamed to admit that I am hopeless with directions and map reading. Thankfully the hubby is not … otherwise we would have been lost every so often … if both of us had been map blind! hehehe … 🙂

So while the main tourist attractions are of course a must see … we decided not to limit our visits to such places (nor to do any museums – to the hubby’s dismay our trip to Italy this summer did not include any museums at all … hehehe … :)) … and chose to explore other parts … further away from the hustle and bustle of these highly touristy part of Venice.

From the busy and crowded Piazza San Marco, we walked further to the other side towards the public gardens where most of the main exhibitions for the Biennale were held. The area is quieter and less crowded … but just as beautiful and interesting.

So I hope you will enjoy the following photos of some of the less iconic spots of Venice … which include some shots that I think only I would bother to take … since I loikeee the things I saw! hehehe …

Near our hotel … in fact just across the narrow alley … is the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti … which is housed in the beautiful palazzo Ca’d’Oro.  We did not have time to go in and check out the gallery (it is not free, by the way) but from what we could see from the open door next to our hotel … the place looked really beautiful and would be worth it to check out if you have the time!

The Palazzo Santa Sofia, but more popularly known as palazzo Ca’d’Oro meaning ‘golden house’ (with part of our hotel seen just next to it) … with its ornate and intricate design architecture in the style called Flamboyant Gothic … is a sight to see not only from the alley outside … but also from the waterbus!

This palace was built in 1421-1443 and was seriously altered during transformations undertaken by an unscrupulous foreign proprietor in the early part of the 19th century (‘once superb in general effect, but now destroyed by restorations’, John Ruskin). Fortunately, it was purchased by an Italian baron (Giorgio Franchetti)  in 1896, who undid many of the ill-fated restorations and then bequeathed the palace to the state in 1916.

But if galleria is not your kind of stuff … a walk to the far end of the San Marco basin towards the public gardens will bring you to an area which is less crowded … but just as interesting!

Along this stretch of Riva dei Schiavoni … you will find the naval museum, big ships … as well as …

…  this quiet but nice area at the corner. On the wooden bridge in front of the two towers of the Arsenale (bottom left picture) I saw many locks! Not sure what these locks were meant for originally … but … they were certainly interesting to see.

Just slightly further … there are some free exhibits in a container called First Pavillion of Haiti … which are part of the Venice Biennale. Quite interesting  …  but kind of scary looking, no?

Continue walking … and after crossing several bridges (from St Mark’s Square) …

… you will arrive at the public gardens (Giardini Pubblici in Italian).

… where most of the art pavilions of the Venice Biennale are held.

The ticketing booths on the left … and the entrance into the art exhibition area inside the garden on the right. Unfortunately, since our time there was short … we did not go and see the exhibitions. But the hubby still intends to catch it before it ends on 27 November … so guess what does this mean? hehehe 😉

Not far from the public gardens is another quiet quarter, that of Sestiere Castello (sestiere = the Venetian word for district) … 

which was quite pretty and interesting.

Here, you can see clothes line with clothes hanging across narrow streets and canals … and even fruit and vegetable market on a boat … so quaint! The beautiful colours of the building here are another attraction of the area.

I certainly enjoyed our walk through this area. Hmmm … maybe we might consider staying in this area for our next stay in Venice. 🙂

For many visitors to Venice … a side trip to one of the neighbouring islands is another good attraction to go for… if there is time, i.e. The favourite choice is usually the island of Murano … famous for Venetian glass making. Or … there is also the island of Burano which is quite colourful and pretty.

However in our case, since the hubby and I had already visited the island of Murano and Burano (during our earlier and separate trips to Venice) … we visited another island instead called … Lido di Venezia.

Well … actually we did not intentionally plan to visit the island of Lido. But … as we were taking the waterbus to go to the public gardens located further east of Piazza San Marco from the train station … we decided to stay on aboard and take it all the way to Lido instead. Remember the hubby’s flexible itinerary? 😉

Venice: the islands of Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore (left), the area around Piazza San Marco (middle) and Sestiere Castello (right) … as seen from the jetty at Lido.

Not far from the jetty we saw many many many bicycles parked in one area … incredible! The first thing that came to mind when we saw sooo many bicycles was … that Lido must be an island of cyclists just as Venice is a city for gondolas! hehehe 🙂

In fact, for those who wish to do so … they can rent bicycles or versions of it (for 1, 2 or 4 people) to ride around the island. But since we did not intend to stay long on the island, we did not do so and instead walked around the area not too far from the jetty.

We saw a Greek cruise liner ‘Olympia Palace’ passing by while we were sitting down on a bench having a quick lunch and enjoying the sea view. And as you can see … more bicycles here!

Some of the nice buildings in Lido. Check out the white columns on the apartment building on the left and top right. Can you remember where you might have seen them before? 🙂

The free public beach in Lido … which was quite popular as it was such a hot sunny day when we were there. It is very easy to get there: follow Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, the main road also known as Gran Viale, which crosses the whole island until you reach Piazzale Bucintoro, a roundabout just in front of the beach. However, unless you are particularly fond of crowds … September is probably not the best time to go to Lido … because this is when the famous Mostra internazionale d’arte cinematografica di Venezia normally takes place … so you have been warned. 🙂

So there you have it … some of the places that you can also consider visiting if you have the time for it when in Venice. We certainly enjoyed visiting these places.

Other entries related to our trip to Venice:

Other entries part of ‘our Italian escapade’:

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