First Trip to Venice: When riding Gondolas and eating Getalos was the only thing on the itinerary

Venice or Venezia in northeastern Italy, the capital of the Veneto region sits on the marshy Venetian Lagoon.  It is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and artworks. A must-do here is a gondola ride with a gondolier on the Grand Canal and feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco.  We didn’t make it to the colorful islands of Burano and Murano, instead took the Vaporetto around town… trying to get lost walking down different alleyways and bridges stopping only for Gelatos and taking in the sights and sounds.

We brought back home some Venetian masks to wear if we ever make it to the Carnival of Venice on our next trip.


We loved Piazzo San Marco also called St.Mark’s square. This square is the central point of the city, the place all tourists arrive at at some point during their stay in Venice. The square has been a focal point of the city for centuries and is the only Venice “piazza”; the other squares are called “campi.”

The square has buildings on three sides and the fourth side is open. The square is a gathering place for both locals and visitors and is a pedestrian-only zone. Visitors can enjoy the open space, which is lined with pleasant outdoor cafes and restaurants and stores beneath the surrounding covered arcades. One of the most famous cafes on the square is the Caffe Florian. It is also known for the many pigeons, but it is now illegal to feed them. Venice’s main street, Merceria, leads onto the square through the arch in Saint Mark’s Clocktower and at the end of the square is the Grand Canal and the mooring area for Venetian gondolas.

Surrounded by some of the must-see sites of Venice like the Doge’s Palace where rulers lived and ran their court; the Basilica San Marco; the basilica’s free-standing campanile (bell tower); the Procuratie Nouvo (designed by Jacopo Sansovino) which now houses a museum; a small Loggetta next to the Campanile which was also built by Sansovino; the Library of Saint Mark’s and St. Mark’s Square Clocktower. The small Piazzetta di San Marco separates the palace and the library building, and here two columns stand, facing the canal, commemorating the city’s patrons – Saint Mark and Saint Teodoro of Amasea. One of the column statues is of the Winged Lion of Venice.

Originally the square was the front courtyard of a small chapel (now the Basilica) and the Rio Batario ran between the square and the Doge’s Palace. In 1174 the canal was filled up and the square repaved with a beautiful herringbone pattern almost 100 years later in 1267. Andrea Tirali came up with a more complex pattern for the square paving using natural Istrian stone in 1735. The square was used by traders as a convenient marketplace. The square is adorned with three tall flagpoles with bronze relief bases designed by Alessandro Leopardi (1505), the Italian flag flies here above the beautiful and constantly busy square.

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We stayed at a beautiful boutique hotel Hotel Antiche Figure right across from the train station with beautiful views of the Grand canal. This hotel is absolutely beautiful, we had one of two rooms that have a little balcony and great views looking out at the grand canal.

We arrived at the train station and just across from it was the hotel. Just a walk over the bridge on the left and we arrived. The staff is incredible and friendly. We sipped on some Bellini while we were there watching the gondolas, which is a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach purée or nectar. This cocktail is said to have originated in Venice, Italy.


Have you been to Venice, what is your favorite memory of it?  What other trip ideas do you have for a Venice trip with the family? Is it on your bucket list?


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