Venice has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time and I was thrilled to finally visit a few weeks ago. It. Is. STUNNING. Seriously, everything you see is a photo opportunity and so beautiful!
Our hotel was right in the centre, and we had the most fantastic view from our room of the gondola’s waiting to collect customers. There were some real characters, and it was so fun to hear them singing along and talking to each other so animatedly!
If you’re thinking of going to Venice, I have a spot of advice for you – don’t bother trying to rely on Google Maps. I literally have NO sense of direction, so tend to use the app pretty frequently, but with all the teeny streets and countless bridges, we were better off using a paper one – thankfully Mum is much better at reading maps than I am!
There’s plenty to see in this gorgeous city, so it’s wise to make a list of where you wish to head. Of course, how much you do depends on how long you’re there for. We spent 3 nights here, so were keen to fit as much in as possible.
Make sure you:
Go up the Bell Tower for fantastic views of the city. I recommend going there late afternoon to beat the queues.
Visit the Basilica of San Marco for breath-taking architecture both outside and inside. We bought an advance ticket online so we skipped the queues (which can take a very long time!) and it was pretty cheap to do so.
Take a tour of the Doge’s Palace for Venetian history and background. I totally recommend the ‘Skip the Line: Doge’s Palace Secret Itinerary Tour’ – it certainly isn’t cheap but if you want to learn some secrets and go behind the scenes of the palace (that are inaccessible to other visitors) then book it! Our guide was so funny and really knowledgeable – we even got to see where the infamous Casanova was imprisoned!
Ride in a gondola to experience more of the city than you ever could on foot. We enjoyed a group serenade, where we shared the gondola with 4 other people and travelled through the city (en masse with a few other gondolas) as we were serenaded by such a sweet, older Italian man whose voice was exquisite! The ride was magical, and not to be missed!
Take a speedboat to the airport and feel like James Bond! We made our way into Venice on a vaparetto, which was fine, although it took quite a while. However, due to timing and… erm … well we just really fancied it, we booked a speedboat to collect us from our hotel and take us to the airport. It was amazing!
We used http://www.viator.com to book everything and had no issues at all.
It really wasn’t too hard being vegan in Venice. Although I’ve been to Italy a few times, this was the first trip as a vegan, so I was a little nervous as to what I’d be eating for 4 days. But, I survived the South of France (easily) and thought Italia would be fairly similar.
Breakfast in the hotel was fine, plenty of fruit, baguettes and crisp breads – and I made sure I packed my mini soya milk pots too. I’ve always enjoyed milky (yet strong and mighty) coffee, and am just not quite at the stage where I can drink it black, sans milk. I really like espresso though – but have to have it with two sachets of sugar – shhhhh, SO not chic, I know!
At every place we went to eat, the waiters knew what vegans ate, which I was quite surprised about, but very happy nonetheless. I love Italian food, so was quite happy eating cheesless vegetarian pizzas and spaghetti. On the occasion I didn’t want a stodgy meal, I just had roasted (olive oil) veggies with some bread which was delicious!
A word of warning however, you might get given breadsticks in paper packaging with your bread basket – don’t eat them! They have pork fat in! Why, I just don’t know, but I’m thankful I looked at the ingredients first!
My favourite place was a cute little resto which we stumbled upon when we were lost (isn’t that always the way?) called Trattoria Al Gazzettino. I asked the waitress (who saw us peering in through the window) if they could make anything vegan and she popped inside to check. The owner said I could have spaghetti with vegetables and he would do me a big green salad to go with it. The meal was THE BEST pasta I have ever had in my life – in fact it is one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I don’t know what they did to it, but it blew me away. When I return to Venice I’ll be heading right back to this amazing little place. The atmosphere was great and we enjoyed grappa and limoncello at the end of the meal. Seriously, what a sublime meal.
(I hardly needed to speak Italian, but it’s good to know some emergency basics – just in case!):
Io sono vegano/vegana : I am vegan
Without cheese: senza formaggio
Without milk: senza latte
Without meat, poultry or fish: senza carne, pollame o pesce
Do you have soya milk: avete latte di soia
Please use olive oil and not butter: Si prega di utilizzare l’olio di oliva e non burro
Italy is such a beautiful country, offering so much to tourists and locals alike and Venice is defiantly one place I hope to return to.