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2-day Venice itinerary - need help with ordering my list

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This is a first-draft of upcoming Venice itinerary for my husband and I. Will be our first trip to Italy (we're doing 8 days in Rome after Venice). We're in our 50's. Love art, architecture, history, museums, exploring (especially off the beaten path), and being travellers as opposed to tourists.

Could someone please suggest when/where items on the MUST list should be placed and - if they are doable - items on the MAYBE list as well?

Thank you!


6.30pm Arrive - Train from Rome (after flight from UK)
Vaporetto Line 1 to Galleria Hotel (Accademia Bridge area)
Check-in hotel
Walk around Dorsoduro/eat
Piazza San Marco/ Torre dell’ Orologio

Breakfast at hotel
9.55am Doges Palace Secret Itineraries Tour/pre-booked
9.00pm San Vidal Church/Interpreti Veneziani Four Seasons Concert/pre-booked

FRI 26 APR (heard there will be 6 cruise ships in town today)
Breakfast at hotel/Check-out (they will hold our luggage)
Rialto Market
4.25pm Depart – Train to Rome

Basilica di San Marco/will pre-book entry – illuminated hours?
Café Florian
Gallerie dell’Accademia
Scuola Grande dei San Rocco
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
Scuola de San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
Scuola Grand dei Carmine

San Giorgio Maggiore Church
Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Santa Maria della Salute
Ca’ Rezzonico
Church of Grande Zaccaria

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    Here's my best attempt, though I doubt I would include all the scuole beyond San Rocco in so short a time. I included some of the maybes to get you wandering to other areas. The real problem is having to get back to your hotel to retrieve your luggage and then go to the train station. You might begin the day by dropping your luggage at the train station so you don't have to backtrack across Venice to get it. Or move Gallerie dell’Accademia to your final afternoon.

    WED 24 APR
    6.30pm Arrive - Train from Rome (after flight from UK)
    Vaporetto Line 1 (LINE 2 is FASTER) to Galleria Hotel (Accademia Bridge area)
    Check-in hotel
    Walk around Dorsoduro/eat
    Piazza San Marco/ Torre dell’ Orologio
    **Café Florian (weather permitting)

    Breakfast at hotel
    *Church of Grande Zaccaria
    9.55am Doges Palace Secret Itineraries Tour/pre-booked
    **Basilica di San Marco – illuminated hours = 11;30-12:30L
    cross Accademia Bridge to . . .
    **Gallerie dell’Accademia
    *Santa Maria della Salute
    **Scuola Grand dei Carmine
    9.00pm San Vidal Church/Interpreti Veneziani Four Seasons Concert/pre-booked

    FRI 26 APR (heard there will be 6 cruise ships in town today)
    Breakfast at hotel/Check-out (they will hold our luggage)
    Rialto Market
    **Scuola Grande dei San Rocco
    **Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
    **Scuola de San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
    *Santa Maria dei Miracoli
    4.25pm Depart – Train to Rome


    *San Giorgio Maggiore Church
    *Ca’ Rezzonico

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    I’d add the church of San Polo to your list. This is extracted from a long trip report that I wrote about our time in Venice a couple of years ago. If you click on my user name, you’ll find it. “a sort of trip report”.

    …. the Church of San Polo. The church is pretty dim, and when inside you can see people put their noses in, and decide that they’ll maybe spend their three euro on a coffee and brioche rather than yet another church. In the church proper, there is an OK Tiepolo the elder, and after that the usual group of dark oils showing various saints having a rough time of it.

    The treasure of San Polo is in the sacristy. There is a Stations of the Cross, the story told in fourteen frames, almost like a documentary. This group of paintings did not find favour when Tiepolo the Younger painted it around 1750, and I think that the style would have cut across the conventional view of the crucifixion. Tiepolo painted no calm, placid, self-sacrificing demi-god, there’s no Father, Son and Holy Ghost in evidence here. We have a tortured, agonised man, being done to death for upsetting the Roman order of things, threatening the status quo, that “Render unto Caesar” phrase would certainly have threatened the taxation revenue, and overturning the tables of the money changers would knock a hole in synagogue revenue. Those moneychangers paid for the table concessions, were licensed, and entitled to make a buck on the exchange.

    That Tiepolo painting, that first Station, sets the scene of what is to come, and outlines the way the narrative will be told. And so asking the mob, “What should we do, what’s a fit punishment” was always going to have the mob baying for blood, “yeah, let’s have a crucifixion, haven’t seen one for weeks”. Nobody was going to suggest a period of home detention, an ASBO, or a fine. And no magistrate was going to lose favour by asking the mob – every election campaign, 2000 years later, still brings up law and order as a issue. “Let’s get tough on Crime!” I’ve read an account of the municipal authorities of a fourteenth century Italian town paying for the right to disembowel, hang, draw and quarter a criminal from a nearby town. Getting tough on crime has a long history.

    So there is no “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” portrayed in these Stations. It is all a very human story; I think not the way the people who commissioned the work expected the story to be told. They were not expecting a political statement to hang in the church, and so the paintings languished, unhung, for decades. The same goes for the ascent to Heaven. Mostly one see a most serene portrayal, Jesus ascending, maybe standing on some sort of little cloud, a bunch of angels in attendance, being drawn up to the light. Not in Tiepolo’s version. He has Jesus literally jumping towards the heavens, ascending completely under his own steam, a most athletic Jesus.

    So the San Polo church may not be for everyone, but the Tiepolo works make it pretty special for me.

    Also on architecture – maybe have a look at some of the work by Carlo Scarpa – he did the interior of the Olivetti showroom, which is on the north side of the Piazza. It’s been recently restored, a fine 1950’s interior. I like Scarpa – he shows touches of Frank Lloyd Wright, prairie architecture in down town Venice. He also did a couple of rooms in the Gallerie dell’Accademia

    We visited the Foundazione Querini Stampalia, near Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252. It was a total knock out. The building is the old family home of the Querini clan, and when they moved out, a lot of their furniture got left behind. They also left behind some works of art, notably a Bellini, a Tiepolo, works by Longhi and a heap of others. Maybe they could not find people and boats to transport their stuff, and their misfortune is our good luck.

    The building is on three levels – or three levels that are accessible by the public.
    The ground floor sees a bit of aqua alta, and Scarpa had this in mind when he was invited to re-work the ground floor in 1960. The architecture is fifty years old, and is as crisp and sharp as if it had been designed yesterday. The ground floor accommodates the inevitable flooding by inviting the water to enter, and suggesting that when the tide drops, then it ought to kindly depart. Raised walkways allow circulation even when the ground floor is under water, and one of the walkways is shaped like a trough. A contradiction – troughs are meant to contain water, but this trough keeps your feet dry. The tide was low-ish when we visited, and I’d love to see it when the tide is high, to get a getter idea of what Scarpa was on about.

    When you stand in the main reception room or hall, there’s a brass line on the wall at eye height, which establishes an horizon. But the way the paving on the floor has been laid, bands of stone breaking up the washed concrete paving, creates a strange optical illusion, reinforced by the horizon line. You could swear that the floor was stepped, looking like the typical Venetian bridge. But it is dead level. I had to walk the length of the room a couple of times to realise that my eyes were playing tricks. The door to the right is worth opening and closing – a door leaf made of stone, on massive hinges, but to a slightly less than human size, a small door.

    The room opens onto a lovely garden, lovely even in winter, where there are a pair of miniature fountains, connected by a long lily pond. Water trickling, with trench details that reflect the water ingress and egress that you’ve passed as you walk in. The stone detailing is worth a look, as in many places the stone has been scribed to create an interlocking, dovetailed or mortise and tenon appearance. Stone, but talking about carpentry.

    Decent bookshop and bar on the ground floor as well.

    Ascend to the first floor, and go back in time by about three hundred years, when you enter the library. The library is modern, a reference library, but contained in rooms that still retain their décor from about 1700. Frescoed ceilings, a place of serious academic reference, and well populated by students. Stroll around – the parquetry squeaks horribly – and that’s the loudest noise you’ll hear. Chandeliers the size of a tractor wheel.

    You’ve maybe ridden the No 1 vaporetto down the Grand Canal and looked up into the palazzi, those big rooms, chandeliers, decorated ceilings, and wondered what they look like from the inside. Go up to the second floor of this building, and you will find out. The second floor contains the rooms and furniture of the family, still in the rooms that were meant to contain it. A bedroom, ladies boudoir, dining room, drawing rooms (walls lined with red silk fabric, the original fabric). A display of a porcelain dinner setting – well, some of the setting, as it contained some 450 pieces, none of which have gone missing. The family paintings, commissioned to enhance the collective family ego, fresoed ceilings, several globes, one of which shows a rough approximation of Australia. Mirrors that were silvered in 1650, “through a glass, darkly”.

    All this for ten euro. Can’t complain about that.

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    ABRAM: Thank you - very helpful. I will get a map and mark everything out.

    PETER: I will take a look at the Church of San Polo but ... wow ... Foundazione Querini Stampalia sounds fascinating!!

    ELLEN: I will look at a map to see why you suggested dropping our luggage at the train station so we don't have to backtrack across Venice to get it, or moving Gallerie dell’Accademia to our final afternoon. Having never been to Venice before, we don't understand its layout yet. Thank you, too, for the itinerary help.

    Mr. Tealover just informed me that he thinks he'd like to visit Murano. We're not into touristy-cheesy shops, but we are great fans of glass art (i.e. Dale Chihuly) so he thinks we would enjoy some time in Murano. If we did that, where would be the best place to insert that (I realise that something else would have to be sacrificed).

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    Flee Flee Flee for your life when you see the tsunami of cruise ship tourists descend on the area between St.Mark's Sq. and the Rialto Bridge!

    These people will push and shove you just to get a photo. They don't care anything about Venice, they just want photos and t-shirts, cheap Murano glass.

    Go to the Frari Church, Ca Rezzanico, Campo Giacomo dell' Orio, and the Jewish ghetto area to escape these horrid insects.

    What a nightmare these cruise ships are for Venice!


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    I would visit Ca' Rezzonico rather than so many scuole, but don't bother with the paintings on the top floor, the Tiepolo frescos are the main attraction.

    The Querini Stampalia is definitely a second tier place except for the Carlo Scarpa designed garden which you may be able to enter from the cafe, which does a good spritz by the way.

    I love visiting Murano but doubt that you will have time this trip. If you do, there are some Chihuly-esque pieces of glass exhibited around the island.

    You could take the traghetto between Dorsoduro and San Marco to avoid the tsunami of cruisers on the path between Rialto and San Marco. They are indeed frightful, but I would be with them if it were my only chance to see Venice.

    PS - Do you know which room you have booked at The Galleria? Some are TINY but they do nice breakfasts in your room.

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    My only suggestion would be on the morning you do the Rialto Market wake up REALLY early and go see Venice without the crowds. On our last day in Venice we walked to Rialto and got to the market just as the sun was coming up. There was practically no one out except for delivery boats and street sweepers. The vendors were just setting up their booths at the market as we got there. On our walk back we took pictures (without 1,0000 people) on the Rialto Bridge and watched the city begin to come to life. It was magical and a great goodbye to Venice.

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    I would definitely skip Murano. It will take almost half a day to go, look around and come back. Murano, in my opinion, is not very charming and is like Venice, but smaller with less to see. I saved Murano until my third visit to Venice, if that tells you anything, and in hindsight, think that was a great decision. You will miss too many of your "must-sees" if you go there. If you want to buy glass, you can find it just as easily in Venice. (Burano, the lace-making island, is very charming, but I would not try to visit on my first trip, especially with such a short time.)

    I would also take steviegene's advice about going to the Rialto Market very early. I would then try to squeeze in San Giorgio Maggiore. It is a short trip on the vaporetto, and you can take the elevator(much shorter line than in Piazza San Marco) up to the top of the campanile for sweeping views of Venice and the Lagoon (much better views, in my opinion, than San Marco's because you can see all of Venice too).

    I like Caffe Florian but prefer to sit outside Caffe Lavena because you can hear their orchestra as well as that of Quadri. Whichever one you go to, save it for later in the evening, when it is dark and the daytrippers have gone. The Piazza is wonderful then.

    If you want to take a gondola ride (I'm pro-gondola, others not so much), do it around dusk one evening (and be sure to go into the back rios, not just the Grand Canal). The light is wonderful, and you won't be taking up your prime sight-seeing hours.

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    This place near San Marco has glass designed by Carlo Moretti:
    It is about 5 minutes walk from the Piazza. The shop interior was designed by Carlo Scarpa, so it's a bit of a favourite for me. The photo on their web site is a real photo, taken from inside the shop, looking at the adjacent church.

    Moretti's glass is very modern, unlike the typical "Venetian" glass.

    We've bought glasses there - which are not cheap, but are pretty special. It's a bit of fun to have glasses with the makers name etched in the bottom. As you walk there, you'll pass on your right a shop selling Venini glass, again not cheap.

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    I also agree that Murano is not in the stars for such a short trip.

    However, do note that there are at least a dozen incredible glass shops right around the square of San Marco. There are a couple on the very northeast corner, a few on the north side and at least 6 or 7 on the west side of the square.

    Trust me, you can see all the incredible glass you want to see just in these stores, including chandeliers that will blow your minds. :)

    Have a wonderful trip. And remember that Italy lives on Italy time. Meaning slow meals, slow walks and sipping wine or spritzes at an outdoor table- watching all those "insects" go by. (thin- you slay me! haha)

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    Thanks to everyone's help, here is the Venice itinerary I've put together.

    Would appreciate any comments/suggestions/tips, especially from ellenem whose info was so helpful - you mentioned something about taking our luggage to the train station on Friday morning before we start our day?

    I've marked everything on these Google maps but having never been to Venice before, am not quite sure which direction we should be moving in every day - other than Friday when 6 cruise ships will apparently be in port.




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    In my proposed schedule, I put them in the order I thought they fit. I also thought that if you connected sights in that order, you would have the chance to walk through different areas. Try connecting the dots on your maps.

    I suggested that if you follow my Friday itinerary, your afternoon might visit Castello (Scuola de San Giorgio degli Schiavoni) and Cannaregio (Santa Maria dei Miracoli), areas you would not have been previously. One could even walk to the train station from Santa Maria dei Miracoli, seeing a different neighborhood on your way to the train. As you can see from the map, your hotel is not along the way. Therefore, if you liked this plan, you might begin the day by taking your luggage to the train station and check it in the Deposito Baggagli (baggage checkroom for a fee) so you would not have to backtrack to the hotel from wherever you are on Friday afternoon.

    Part of this proposed schedule is difficult to predict since I have no idea how well you will be able to navigate in Venice. Some people walk quickly. Some meander. Some need to add extra time to their estimates because they are constantly going the wrong way. It may be a bad idea to do more than one thing the afternoon you leave--I don't know you, so I can only guess. You may also tae more or less time to view all the art you hope to see than I might.

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    I don't agree that Palazzo Querini Stampalia is second tier.

    There are some absolutely smashing Pietro Longhi paintings and gorgeous Meissen in this palazzo.

    I work for a major American auction house and I was impressed.


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