Venice, Italy  Map

After Florence, our next stop is Venice: We had decided during our trip planning that it would be logical to turn in the rental car in Florence, and take the train to Venice. This is because cars are not allowed in Venice, and the only place to park is on the mainland and no parking anywhere else.

Venice was historically an independent nation and the capital of the Serenissima Venetian Republic for more than a thousand years and known because of this as the "Serenissima". ​Venice is world-famous for its canals it is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon.

Due to Venice's "pedestrian only" environment, you will have to move about by foot, gondola or "water taxi". Because there are also other islands located nearby that you may want to visit, you will need a book that details how to get around the area and how to do it. Go to Amazon and search for books that describe exploring Venice.

Parking: As I mentioned above, no cars are allowed in Venice, so if you drive here you are going to have to solve your parking challenge. Click here to go to a page that will give you a good list of all the parking lots that are available. Good luck !

A few interesting facts about Venice
  • Venice is known for its bridges. There are 417 bridges in Venice, and 72 of those are private.
  • Houses in Venice are numbered according to districts, not streets, making it difficult to find addresses, even for postmen. The rule of thumb is to look for a monument, shop, or landmark in close proximity.
  • There are about 350 gondolas and 400 gondolieri in Venice. On average, gondolas are 11 meters long and weigh around 600 kilos.
  • In 1608, the Council of Ten approved wearing masks only during the carnival. Those who broke the law were heavily punished. Punishments ranged from two years in prison to public beating and binding to the pillar of shame.
  • There are 177 canals in Venice. The S-shaped Grand Canal is the biggest and splits the city in two.
  • The San Marco bell tower, or campanile, was built in the 12th century and collapsed in 1902. The tower was rebuilt to be exactly the same as the previous one. It is 98.6 metres tall, making it the fifth tallest bell tower in Italy.
  • Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year.
  • The population of Venice has decreased from 120,000 to 60,000 in the last 50 years. Some experts believe Venice could be a ghost town by 2030 with only tourists visiting by day.
  • The first woman in the world (Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Loredan Piscopia) that graduated from college, was born in Venice in 1646.
  • The first public casino in the world was opened in Venice in 1638.
Florence: Stazione di Santa Maria Novella

We are waiting for the train to Venice to be ready to board, we got here a bit early because we turned the rental car in and then had to get ourselves over to the train station.
Firenze Santa Maria Novella (in English Florence Santa Maria Novella) or Stazione di Santa Maria Novella (IATA: ZMS) is a terminus railway station in Florence, Italy. The station is used by 59 million people every year and is one of the busiest in Italy.

Venice: Santa Lucia Train Station

The travel time from Florence to Santa Lucia station was just a tick over 2 hours, in distance it is 160 miles and the train has to slow down as it crosses the bridge into Venice. This is much simpler than a car would have been !
Image Credits: Image # 1 (left) is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC. Image # 2 (right) is the property of MJJR via Wikimedia Commons.

Exploring Venice   Map
Ponte degli Scalzi

The train pulls into the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia in Venice, and our B&B was just a block away from there, so we were out and about pretty quickly exploring.

The Ponte degli Scalzi; literally, "bridge of the barefoot [monks]"), is one of only four bridges in Venice, Italy, to span the Grand Canal.

The bridge connects the sestieri of Santa Croce and Cannaregio. On the north side, Cannaregio, are the Chiesa degli Scalzi (Church of the Barefoot or Discalced Monks) and the Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station. The south side is the sestiere of Santa Croce.

Venice Canals

A very typical set of "canal scenes" as we walked through Venice. As you walk about Venice, you will pass by scenes like this everywhere you may go. Venice has approximately 26 miles of canals, so these types of scenes can be found around every corner!

Our Local Wine Shop

This wine shop was located on the Rio Terà Lista di Spagna (in the Campo San Geremia) just down the street from our hotel. Celeste and I would walk down here for an adult beverage before dinner time.

Are You Done Yet?

Our kids, waiting for us to finish our adult beverages. OK, this really didn't take that long, but in this case, they were hungry and wanted to go get some dinner!

Grand Canal Water Taxis

Canal water taxi on the Grand Canal. This is a great way to get around, and cost effective as well.

Murano Faro

We took a water taxi over to Murano Faro, and visited this glass blowing factory. Touristy? Yes, but it was an interesting exhibition.
Click here to visit their website.

Rialto Bridge

This is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Connecting the sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo, it has been rebuilt several times since its first construction as a pontoon bridge in the 12th century, and is now a significant tourist attraction in the city.
Click here to view the Wiki page.

Saint Mark's Basilica

This is the plaza in front of Saint Mark's Basilica ("Piazza San Marco"). There has been an "open space" in front of a church here since 819AD, however, the plaza was constructed by Sebastiano Ziani during his time as Doge of Venice 1172 - 1178 and completed by his son Pietro Ziani when he became Doge in 1205.

Saint Mark's Basilica Pigeons

The birds in this plaza have learned that the tourists will feed them, so they flock here in the hundreds! The bird population is thought to be over 100,000 which is larger than the human population of Venice! The city of Venice has made it illegal to feed the birds to try to reduce the bird population.
Post Edit: Venice Security officials are on the lookout for tourists who attract pigeons - with food - and could come up with anything from a verbal warning to a €700 fine, for the violator. The huge fines have been effective in discouraging the people from feeding the birds. The ban on feeding the pigeons was forced in 2008.

 Quick St. Mark's Basilica History Lesson 

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark commonly known as Saint Mark's Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It lies at the eastern end of the Piazza San Marco, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has been the city's cathedral only since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, formerly at San Pietro di Castello.

The Maltese Falcon

We had walked down to the where the private yachts tie up (along the Saint Mark's Basilica) and discovered that the "Maltese Falcon" was there. It is famous due to it being one of the first computer controlled sailing vessels in the world. The Captain tells the computer system what he wants the sails to do, and everything is done by remote controls & sensors.
The ship has won a number of awards, and has an interesting story about how it was built. To read the full story Click here

Scenes of Venice

As we walked about the city, we were able to see various aspects of life there that have to be seen to fully comprehend. Take a look at our Venice Image Gallery to see all of our other images.

Open Air Market
Walk there or Gondola?
Side-canals from the Grand Canal
Our Gardaland Adventure   Map

Gardaland is an amusement park located in northeastern Italy. Opened 19 July 1975, the resort includes Gardaland Park, Gardaland Sea-Life, and the Gardaland Hotel. It is adjacent to Lake Garda, but does not actually face the water. The entire complex covers an area of 445,000 m2 (4,789,940 sq ft), while the theme park alone measures 200,000 m2 (2,152,782 sq ft). Sporting both traditional attractions and entertainment shows, it attracts nearly 3 million visitors every year.

Gardaland Amusement Park

We surprised our children by declaring one day in Venice a "fun day" and we took them by train (we had turned in our rental car in Florence) to Gardaland from Venice. This is an easy train ride from Venice, and it is adjacent to Lago di Garda.

Word of caution here though; you need to be able to translate the Park signs from Italian to English, otherwise you will have no idea of what the ride is about, etc.

Read the Park Signs

Remember what I said earlier about being able to read the signs? We kept our "Italian Phrase Book" constantly at the ready as we walked about. So unless you just happen to have an Italian speaker in your group, get yourself a phrase book!

Park Grounds

The entire park was beautifully maintained, with many ornate flower beds and sculpted bushes & trees. The park is 64 acres in size, and everywhere we went the grounds were immaculate. There were park personnel everywhere making sure that debris was picked up and disposed of.

Some of the Gardaland Rides

The park has a total of 32 rides, including seven roller coasters and three water rides. The following are some of the rides we enjoyed.

The Blue Tornado

Image property of  Sarion  via Wiki

Fantasy Kingdom

Image property of  Maza89  via Wiki

Escape from Atlantis

Image property of  Basilico  via Wiki

Pirate Ship

Image property of  Geobia  via Wiki

Shaman Loop Coaster

Image property of  Sarion  via Wiki

The Raptor

Image property of  Basilico  via Wiki

Beach day at Lido di Venezia   Map
Image property of Gary Houston via Wikipedia.
Lido Beach Day

We caught one of the Venice Vaporettos ("water taxis" - there are numerous stops all along the Grand Canal) and headed over to Lido di Venezia for a day at the beach.

Lido is a 11 kilometer long and narrow barrier island which gets wider in its northern tract. At least half the seaward coast has sandy beaches. Much of the beach at the town of Lido belongs to various hotels. There are large public beaches towards the northern and southern ends.

The Lido is Venice’s relaxed seaside resort. In winter, this thin strip of land has a quiet, workaday vibe, while the population swells in summer, with visitors and day trippers relaxing on the beach and children playing in the shallow water.

Lido is home to the Venice Film Festival - an annual festival that aims to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. For more information click here to go to their Website.

Some Useful Links
  • The 2007 Italy Trip Overview & Guide We started in started in Rome, took a train to Florence where we rented a car to see more of central Italy, then took a train to Venice. Click here to read more.
  • Rome, Italy Rome was our first stop on this trip, and it is a historic and fascinating to explore, click here to read more.
  • Florence, Italy We took a train to Florence from Rome and then explored Florence, Sienna, Livorno, Pisa and Maranello & the Ferrari facilities there. Click here to read more.
  • Venice, Italy Turned in the rental car in Florence and took the train to Venice. Click here to read more.

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