Of the three cities we visited (Rome/Florence/Venice), this one was definitely my favorite. With its endless bridges, cobblestone alleyways, and boats, it seemed to me as if it were a city designed just for photographers. I could never make it more than a few blocks without pulling out my camera again. And the real-life moments were just as magical! Nothing could ever capture the way the emerald water sparkled in the sunlight, or the regal sound of the church bells amongst the hum of the crowds. It seemed as if the city were stuck in time; it was a strange cross between past centuries and the hippie culture of the 70s in America. Venice was the perfect place to end our honeymoon, although it was hard to leave after experiencing its charm!
From what I understand, Venice was built by driving thousands of wooden tree trunks into the ground, then laying the building foundations on top of those poles. The sea water protects the wood from rotting since it’s never exposed to oxygen, and the sediment and clay from the water has helped to petrify the wood over time. Although many buildings now have modern septic systems, the older buildings still dump their sewage out into the canals, where the water is flushed out with the tide twice a day. This could explain the…interesting smells that we sometimes experienced. 😉 Although it’s pretty to look at, I would not touch that water in a million years!
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Airbnb during our stay in Venice. Our host was an interior designer, so the apartment was immaculately decorated! The place was flooded with natural light and a nice breeze coming off of the Spanish-style rooftops. I couldn’t help but take a million photos! Here’s the link to our Airbnb if you ever find yourself in Venice!
The view from our Airbnb…sigh!!
Never in my life have I felt more lost than I felt in Venice! The whole city is a maze of tiny alleys, bridges, and dead ends. Even with GPS, sometimes we had trouble navigating our way from place to place. We looked at getting lost as part of the adventure and allowed lots of time for wandering.
One of the only solo pictures of me from our entire trip! I’m so glad to have an image to remember how my wanderlust heart felt during our honeymoon!
One of the places I looked forward to the most from our entire trip was the small island of Burano, located a short ferry ride away from Venice. The island is known for the vibrant colors of its buildings, which were supposedly painted so that boats could see the island more clearly from the sea. The residents of Burano take their colors very seriously — you have to get a permit before you can even paint your house! As a result, the whole island looks like a crayon box blew up. As a lover of bright colors, I was absolutely in heaven wandering around and snapping away.
One of our wedding gifts was a guided photography tour in Venice, which was such an interesting way to see the city! Our guide, Simone, showed us a different side of Venice — free of tourists, quiet and reflective, and filled with local people and culture. As a photojournalist, he knows Venice and its stories like the back of his hand. He encouraged us to feel the emotions of the places we visited and to take time to observe before picking up the camera. I really enjoyed seeing the city through the eyes of another photographer, and I know I will carry his reminders with me into my portrait work.
The island of Venice is actually made up of 118 tiny islands which are all connected by canals and bridges. The electricity lines travel across the bridges just like people do. The buildings’ foundations are protected by brick barriers, which guard against erosion from the sea. When the brick and/or mortar becomes worn down, sections of the canal are dammed and drained in order to repair the underwater structure.
After seeing how crowded the Rome tourist destinations were, we decided to take a different approach for the main spots in Venice by visiting them at sunrise when all of the other tourists were still sleeping. I would highly recommend doing this at least once during a trip to Venice, as the city was simply magical in the first hour of the day! It felt so surreal to wander the alleys with nobody else around, and to see the calm water underneath the bridge taking a rest from the daily parade of power boats. During that hour, it felt like the city existed only for us.
Our first stop was St. Mark’s Square, or Piazza San Marco. It’s the only true square in Venice; all the other “squares” are called campi (fields) because they used to be covered in grass in the early days of Venice.
Right next to the Doge’s palace is the Bridge of Sighs. According to legend, the bridge got its name because it was the passageway from the palace to the jail, and prisoners on the way to their execution would sigh at the beauty of their last view of Venice from the small keyholes in the bridge. Instead, we viewed the bridge from the outside looking in, but we thought it was just as beautiful!
Venice has many stray cats which calmly observe the residents from the streets. Apparently there used to be a lot more, but the majority were collected and delivered to an island sanctuary. The few left in Venice loved to pose for my camera!
On a mission to find the best gelato in Venice, we discovered Gelateria Il Doge in the tucked-away neighborhood of Dorsoduro. My favorite flavor was Crema del Doge, which is vanilla, chocolate, and orange all mixed together. I tried to eat it from a cone like all the Italians do, but tragically, my scoop fell on the ground. The whole experience was quite comical!
Venetians are very proud of their “cicheti”, or what we call tapas. You can find adorable cicheti bars scattered all over the city. When we found one we loved, we ordered two Bellini, which were invented right outside of Venice.
There are no cars in Venice, so your choices for transportation are walking or taking a boat. Even the public bus is a boat! We enjoyed riding the vaporetto back and forth to see the Grand Canal and its elegant buildings from the water.
The local mascot of Venice is a winged lion. I learned that when Napoleon conquered Venice, many of the iron lion heads were chiseled away. I read that many of them were never repaired, leaving a reminder of Venice’s history behind.
Gondolas are the biggest tourist trap of Venice, since they exist purely for touristic purposes and cost a pretty penny. However, riding a gondola in Venice was one of only three items on my life bucket list, so I decided to take the plunge with E and experience the city with the help of a gondolier. We requested to ride in the tiny canals instead of the highly-trafficked Grand Canal. It seemed like we just glided peacefully along the emerald water, and it was one of my favorite experiences. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I’m really glad we did it!
We ended our last night with a delicious meal at La Zuppa followed by one last visit to our favorite gelato shop, Venchi!
SO, that concludes our honeymoon adventures! As much as my husband and I loved our trip to Italy, we are equally enthusiastic about the joy of just being HOME and the glory of Netflix + pajama pants. We couldn’t love our tiny little Boston apartment any more!
Thank you so much for reading, friends…I have loved reading all of your comments on social media and hearing your own Italy stories! If you enjoyed what you saw and would like to work together, please feel free to reach out!