Discovering Venice on a free walking tour

EXPERIENCE

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venice

A breathtaking city of canals and bridges filled with endless art and architecture to admire

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Venice in brief

Rising from the waters of Venice Lagoon, is the Italian city of Venice. With its incredible rich history and wealth, this city of Venice has been long hailed has one of the most breath taking city on earth, there is no deny that sometimes Venice can be overwhelming by admirers but if you take your time and treat it gently, this city will reward you with moments of profound beauty and place. 

Come, join me and find out why Venice is a popular and most breathtaking tourist destination in the world. Many travel enthusiasts visit this city every year for number of reasons.. There are abundance of must-see and do attractions in Venice which can mesmerise people. Whether you’re going there for romantic destination or simply travelling with your best friends, there is always something for everyone. Many think that Venice is a congested cruise destination and a city of sorts but after visiting Venice, you will be enthralled by the charm and passion of the city. If you cross the Grand Canal in Venice and walk lazily through the Dorsoduoro and the San Polo neighbourhoods, you will be able to see the real Venice. The stress free, slow, Venetian lifestyle will entrance you completely and you will fall in love with Venice. The authentic beauty of the city lives in its intricate alleys, bridges, canals and its elegant architecture.

Venice: View of buildings on water

Why Go?

Venice is a special place and a place that a lot of people want to go. It is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on the planet. I am privileged to be returning to this city again. I have to say, Venice is my favourite place in Europe and my passion for this city is contagious. I cannot say, it is the most beautiful but something about it is just absolutely breathtaking. They say Paris is the city of love but to me, Venice is the most romantic. The fact is that, the city is built on water makes it the most unique and admiral city in the world. I have never seen anything like this in the world.. Coming back from my second trip to Venice, I would say I am now more than charmed; I may be in love with this city. Yes, if you only stop for few hours in the city while on a coach tour or on a cruise, chances are you will only see the bad sides of Venice: the suffocating crowds, the cheap souvenir carts, the pushy vendors, the bad restaurants and you won’t meet the locals who stay away from Venice’s main sights to avoid these nuisances. I have returned to explore and enjoy more of the city and the surrounding areas.  

With its gondolas, canals, amazing restaurants and unforgettable romantic ambiance, Venice is definitely a city for one’s bucket list. To really experience, I ventured off on my own with challenge and what a thrilling adventure it was. Most of the activities begins in the centre of the business district of San Marco, where you will find one of the world’s greatest squares – St Marks.

St Marks Square

I tried to keep away from the central and over crowded tourist spots and found myself places in Venice where I really enjoyed. Despite that, just within 5 minutes walk from the hotel where I was the Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square. This is the principal public square of Venice. The square is a tourist favourite, mostly because it is enclosed by famous Venetian landmarks, such as St. Mark’s Basilica and the tall Campanile tower. On the smaller Piazetta extension, you can find the beautiful Doge Palace. I was quite intrigued by the fascinating history of the place and discover what it is like to live in this unique city. Walking around in this open air museum took me to the external sights of St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, the Sansovino Library, the Bell tower, the incredible legends of the Clock tower and the Bridge of sighs and its adjoining prisons.

The more I explored the place, more I appreciate the place and it was well worth the time I spend on this city of canals. Some of my favourite highlights and pastime experiences while in Venice were:

Trying something new away from tourists:

Venice, like much of Italy has become very popular with tourists and as a result, many of the restaurants cater for foreigners. To have a feel of real part of the traditional culture and way of life, I ventured into the areas of the city with less tourist attractions where I discover some very interesting restaurants which are very popular among the locals. I tried to order the same dishes the locals order and try something that is a bit different. This was an amazing way of trying some local food.

Markets:

Few people who visit Venice intend to visit the markets and they are a great way to explore some of the culture of the city. I found the markets to be very bright and vibrant place to visit. The smells, sounds and colours make the city come to life. I must say, it is amazing to see how many different things are grown in Venice and the surrounding areas.

Getting Lost:

Venice is a city rich with lots of history and abundance of attractions to visit. Before I went to Venice, I was told that “When in Venice, you have to get lost”. I have found out that, one of the best way to explore the city was just simply walking around until I got lost. Unfortunately, I didn’t even have to get lost on purpose, it all happened by itself. Yes, getting lost in Venice is fun because you just walk around like you are in a big big maze and it is nice to see different areas of the not-too-big city. At first, lots of different parts of Venice looked the same, every bridge over the canal looked identical and confusing when I first started to notice them. The longer I stayed and explored more, I soon started to realise that each has its own unique charm. In getting lost, I can enjoy the city at its best. What’s more, it was a cheap way to view the city since there is no need to purchase any tickets or hail a taxi. 

Venice Traditions: 

Most of Venice is awash with millions of tourists. I wanted to experience the real genuine Venice, so I decided to take a bit of walk. I visited the Ghetto, which is a small area of the town which is more traditional than the rest of the city. here I saw the locals going about their daily routine as they always have done. What a thrill it was and a great way to see more than most tourist ever see.

Canals

Venice, also known as the “Floating City” has no road accessible by car. It has lots of narrow alleys and walkways for pedestrians but lacks wider streets, so cars are a rarity in the city. This city relies almost solely on boat transportation through the many canals. It is an archipelago of 118 islands connected by numerous canals and bridges. Therefore, ferries and boats are the means of transport around the city. The main artery of Venice – The Grand Canal is the major waterway of Venice. It is 3.8 kilometres long and sweeps through the while city. The canals are beautiful and the single best thing about this city. I really loved strolling through the canals of Venice and I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I totally mesmerised by looking at the canals and they’re one of the best reasons why I went back to Venice and experience it more it by myself.

Venice by Night
Alone, sitting by the way at night, looking over Venice at night was just magical and it just felt very special and a great feeling to it. It was beautiful and feel the sense of calming. I just found myself to a lines of cafe close to the water, sipping my coffee and enjoying the sunset.

Gondolas

Gondolas are major attractions for the tourists. Although, they’re for touristy experience, taking a ride in one of these long, slim boats was a memory one never forgets; especially if the gondolier sings a song or two. Yes, I don’t think there is any reasons to pay big bucks to go on your own sailing trip in one. Though they are fun to look at and just the essence of Venice but if your in Venice, you must take a ride on one.. I jumped on one, with leisurely pace, the gondolier maneuvers through the quaint canals of Venice, gliding by historical sights and buildins. 

Arts and Architecture

There are lots of things to do in Venice, besides just walking. After taking a visit to Piazza San Marco, Basillica Di San Marco, Guggenheim Museum and Palazzo Ducale, I seen that there are multitudes of cultural treasures and pieces of evidence of city’s glorious history. No wonder, Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The sites are beautiful, colourful and breathtaking.

Where to stay?

There are various types of accommodations in the Venice, so there is something to suit every budget. Venice, has a whopping 2,000 hotels, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one that suits your budget. Like any other destinations in the world, the closer you want to stay to the centre, the more expensive it gets.

However, my personal recommendation would be Hotel Do Pozzi, a romantic and comfortable 3-star hotel located in the heart of the old town centre. Few hotels in Venice can boast such an ideal location. Just 5-minutes walking from St. Mark’s Square and 2-minutes walking from La Fenice Theatre.

Popular Attractions

This area is home to many iconic buildings. Walking around in this area is possible if you have the time and want to see more of the area on your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s attractions, I’d recommend just walk around and get lost and meet the locals. Undoubtedly, this is where the true heart of the area shines.

Exploring the area

It is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area by foot. However, I highly recommend to go on a guided tour to avoid headaches and with less stress, when it comes to knowing your places, where to go and what you want to see and do. Venice is really a magical city where one loses track of time

ABOUT ME


icgolina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Visiting Rome’s Heart of Art and History

Rome’s attractions date me back to Historical Ancient Times

After spending an adventurous week in Paris, it was time to visit one of the greatest city in Europe – Rome. This city is one of the most beautiful cities not just in Europe but probably the entire world. A city packed with thousands of years of art and ancient history, tempting shopping arcades to endless list of attractions. The city of Rome with an irresistible charm has been on my dream to-do list for decades.

With its rich ancient history and culture intertwined with today’s modern Rome I was bound for confusion but at the same time with great exhilaration of seeing and feeling this great city. Flying over Rome, I was totally amazed and at the same time mesmerised with what I have seen from above and land as I have made my way to the hotel. This city is certainly vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time.

Brief History of Rome

Rome was formerly the capital of the Roman Empire but today it is the government seat and the capital of Italy. This vibrant city of Rome is best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City. It has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important centre for culture, power and religion.

The city of Rome has the most ancient attractions like the Colosseum, the Forum of Augustus, Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum. Further away on the outskirts of the centre is Old Rome which features the Pantheon, stunning cathedrals, plazas and Renaissance architecture. The Vatican is also well known for St. Peter’s Basilica, the Apostolic Palace and Sistine Chapel. With so much Monuments and museums to see, such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum which are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations. These two locations have millions of tourists visiting the sites annually. Yes, there is so much to see and do in Rome and would take months or years to see it all. I am here for a treat in history and the list is endless.

A Taste of Ancient Rome 

No amount of time can be ever enough but my mission was to be able and see and explore as much as possible and at the same time making enough time to sit down and enjoy Rome by night with a scrumptious meal and a glass of exotic Italian wine. One of the most significant site that I wanted to see in Rome which has been on my mind in planning my time is Rome was to visit the Colosseum. 

My first day began in Rome with my “Italiano” breakfast – an “expresso and a pastry” before making my way to the first sight of the day – Colosseum. The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an over an oval amphitheatre build of travertine, tuff and brick-face concrete.  Dating back in history, it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. Today, it is protected and a very popular site for both the tourists and locals. Although, it is partially ruined because of damaged caused by earthquakes, stone-robbers and other unexpected natural disasters, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of the Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and it also has links to the Roman Catholic Church. It holds many outdoor style seated concerts for outdoor orchestra, singing concerts by world famous tenors and many more.

Yes, to be standing there inside this old ancient ruined arena certainly took be back in time visualising what it was like then. Been inside the heart of the Colosseum, I now can see why Colosseum continues to be the leading attraction for tourists from all over the world. It is just absolutely breathtaking to see it in person and standing there gives you a different perspective on how you view and understand history.


Vatican City

On my second day, I had the tour of the Vatican city. A visit to the Vatican city should be one of the first on the list to do in Rome for any visitors. This is a city built within a city and it is the world’s smallest state which fits snuggly in the centre of Rome, consisting of the St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum. It is also the home of the Pope and about eight hundred other souls, mostly clergy and Swiss Guards. Also, it is home to one of the most famous art collections in the world, as well as an enviable library.

The day involves a visit to the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and you don’t need to be religious to visit this little country and neither do you require a visa – This means no border formalities, no luggage searches, no sour and dour looking custom officials either. You simply cross the white line separating St. Peter’s Square from the rest of Rome and you’re there. There are no hostels or hotels in the Vatican City, so no-one can’t spend the night there, unless of course if you’re invited by the Pope. Neither is there much of a public transport, everything is basically in walking distance.

Prior to entering the Vatican city, I was required to go through a very sophisticated and tightly monitored double security system. Once inside, it was unbelievably amazing. Strolling through this incredible cobblestone streets with centuries of history behind them was just fascinating. There are wonders of religious art and architecture around every corner, the flowering of a European culture formed largely by Catholicism, and its view of the beauty of creation and the dignity of man. If your lucky, you will be able to see monsignors and bishops and cardinals, dashing about their clerical robes flying, the occasional red hat bobbing along. Yes, most importantly, I felt there is the presence of the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth. It is incredible that you feel the sense of something when entering a scared site or building.

Finally, I made it inside the Sistine Chapel, which is probably the most famous site in Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, with more frescoes, a magnificent dome and many more. Sistine Chapel is famed for its incredible frescoes on the ceiling painted by famous Michelangelo.

As I made my way outside, I then headed over to St. Peter’s Basilica – regarded as the world’s largest church and one of the holiest. To go there, you have to dress conservatively – meaning that your shoulders and legs have to be covered at all times for both men and women. The entrance to the church was free. Since I was racing against time, I didn’t had the chance to climb the magnificent cupola, at a cost. You can climb the entire 551 steps to the dome or take a lift that will leave you with only 320 steps to the dome. It is such a fascinating art of work

As I stood there, looking at St. Peter’s Square, I just could just visualise thousands and thousands of people gathering at this very place for their annual pilgrimage in Catholic’s Holly calendar year. In exploring this tiny territory, I have found out that one-day is not enough to visit this world’s smallest city.

After an eventful morning, it was time for a quick late lunch break at one of the many restaurants, making room for a gelato. I made my way back to the city to view the night life of Rome with a nice dinner at a local restaurant relaxing and seeing the crowd go by.

To spend few days in one of the most beautiful cities that I have come across, not just in Europe but probably the entire world is something that I will take home with flashbacks in years to come. Rome is a city where it is packed with thousands of years of art and history, a plethora of wining and dining hub but also the home of one of the world’s biggest religion – Catholicism. Rome has it all on every dreamers to-do list and it has too many incredible sights to see and experience. 

From personal perspective: In visiting some of this historical sites not only brought enjoyment to me personally but I have profoundly learnt, discover and explore what it was like during those ancient times. It has truly opened my eyes, ways of thinking and understanding. The knowledge I have gained through travelling is just been phenomenal. This is why I love about travelling because it certainly opens up our minds.

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© akamau.org. (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material (photography and writing) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to akamau.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.