We were into our second week of staying in Torreglia in the Veneto region of Italy. We had a fine few days of sunshine during the first week but limited funds. Then, when we had more money to go and do things, the rains came. After four solid days of rain and storms came the sunshine. And with that came a long-awaited visit to Venice!
The skies were a brilliant blue – cloudless and lit with the beaming sun. The drive to Venice took an hour or so. It was quite a novelty for us to catch sight of the Orient Express on our way:
We arrived at Venice and the ritual of searching for suitable parking began. We drove to a signposted park which was already packed with vehicles, and so we had to drive out of Venice and back again where we found an outdoor parking area by the Tronchetto Car Park which was divided into parking for cars and also for coaches and caravans.
The toughest challenge of the day over, we set off to visit car-free Venice!
The original plan was to walk over to St Mark’s Square and perhaps hire a gondola for Mike and the older children whilst I waited at a cafe with the younger children. As we walked around from the car park we realised that the walk was possibly quite a bit further than we had anticipated!
There were several river taxis waiting on the water, their pilots often waiting at the side of the water to offer you a price for taking you across the river. We refused the first two prices and began our walk when we were called back with another reduced offer – for €60 they would take us all over to St Mark’s Square.
We piled into the little boat and I quickly realised that I do not possess sea-legs as I wobbled and buckled my way on, struggling to keep upright as Mike passed along each young child to me. The water was calm so I could only imagine how I would be if it were any choppier. Imagine Julie Walters’ character ‘Mrs Overall’ on a boat. That was me.
The boys were thrilled to be riding on the water taxi. They had no worries at all and were loving the rocking and splashing as it bounched its way over the river. They craned their necks to look this way and that, marvelling at the views all around them.
Occasionally they would joke about the boat sinking and roar with laughter at my unimpressed expression. Or perhaps it was fear?
The views were simply stunning to say the least.
The further into the river the boat travelled the rockier it became. Having said that it was still extremely calm but yet, it still rocked a little too much for my liking. I resisted the overwhelming urge to Google ‘Venice water taxi accidents’ on my phone.
Unlike their wimp of a mother, the children loved it. So much so that they’ve asked for a boat. Put it on your Christmas list, kids.
As we approached our destination we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the buildings lining the river. The brilliant blue sky and sparkling, glistening of the water showed them off beautifully. This was picture postcard Venice and we were seeing it for real. It was really quite magical.
Everywhere we looked was a medley of simplicity and splendour rolled into one. The streamlined apartment buildings mingled with great, majestic designs should have looked mismatched in any other time and place but today – here – they were perfect.
We arrived at the harbour and debated which direction to set off in.
It turned out to be the wrong one.
Had we turned right we would have arrived directly at St Mark’s Square. Instead we took a left.
It was okay though, because we got to see canals…
Lots and lots of gondolas…
We walked through the narrow streets, safe from the worry of cars careering around the corner. We were fascinated by the narrowness of the streets. The one in the photo below is one of the wider ones. Some were barely wide enough to allow our twin buggy to pass through…
As we wove our way through the winding maze we could barely see the skies above us as we looked upwards. Some streets tapered as you made your way along them, thinning down further and further until you would suddenly reach an unexpected exit, only to turn the corner and begin again.
Eventually, we found our way…
The magnificence was breathtaking. Our eyes were instantly fixed upon the Basilica at the end. Even the scaffolding couldn’t detract from the grandeur it possessed…
As we walked onto the square the bells from the campanile were ringing out. The campanile was originally built in 1156 and rebuilt in 1912 after the original campanile’s collapse in 1902. Measuring 323 feet tall it towers over the square. You can climb to the top to experience the far-reaching views of Venice but we didn’t do this.
The architecture all around was absolutely amazing. There is such great detail in every little thing that it would be impossible to take it all in. One thing I realised though, was that no photograph in the world can truly do it justice. This is somewhere you would have to visit to appreciate the craft, the workmanship, the creativity and the all-round brilliance of those who built it over a thousand years ago.
I am positive that we missed so much – there is far too much to take in and see during one, single day. The magnificence surrounding us was not lost on the children, who were all in awe at everything around them. The cries of ‘Look at this!’ were constant, and the more they saw the more they wanted to find out.
We learnt about the statues on the pillars…
The intricate designs of all the buildings were incredible! I know I have already said it but, the detail!
Each structure possessed such elaborate features…
Eventually, it was time to stop for lunch. The restaurants in the Piazza were not extortionate but neither were they cheap. Of all our travels in Italy, this was to be the most expensive for the most basic of meals. Still, it was something we didn’t expect to do again – at least not for a long while – and since we had not yet visited or eaten out anywhere during the previous two weeks of our travels we were quite happy to treat ourselves!
As we ate we were aware that we were being watched. Not only were we sight-seeing ourselves, but we were also being ‘seen’ by others. We were followed and stopped regularly by other tourists who were captivated by these two parents ushering along their larger than average family. Add a cute, chubby cheeked, beaming baby and two cheeky yet amazingly adorable twin girls to the mix and the requests for photos were unnumerable! We lost count after the first eight or nine requests! We were photographed whilst we ate, while we walked, whilst we stopped to look at something or to talk. We would often turn around to see a camera pointing in our direction and happy faces chattering to one another in languages we didn’t know. It was quite surreal, really!
We sat beneath the towering campanile as we ate and accepted photo requests, and then we continued our visit, only to be passed by a man with the Google Earth cameras strapped to him! How we laughed at the prospect of our visit being captured on Google Earth!
It was finally time to take the river taxi back again…
… tired, but with wonderful memories…
… of a stunningly beautiful place.