Four beautiful days in Venice

Old Jun 24th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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Four beautiful days in Venice

We arrived in Venice on June 19 and got home yesterday, June 23. We gained some valuable insights from this forum, and hope to perhaps help others in the same way.
We travelled on a Monarch flight from Birmingham and, despite a pretty long queue at Marco Polo Airport, we sailed through, with a very laidback official barely glancing at our passports at Passport Control.
We had booked Alilaguna return tickets and exited the airport building, turned left and walked along a walkway for seven minutes (following the water taxi signs) to reach the water. It was only at this point that we saw the Alilaguna signs, but we assumed they would be in the same area.
Luckily, we didn't have long to wait. We handed over our reference number, picked up the tickets for both journeys and boarded a couple of minutes later.
We were asked about our stop (Zattere - we were staying in the Dorsoduro) by the staff - they load the luggage accordingly, and took our seat. It's not a short trip (90 minutes for us) but it was a fantastic introduction to Venice. I don't regret it.
It was just a short walk from the Alilaguna stop to our hotel, the Hotel American Dinesen on the Dorsoduro. We were greeted by friendly staff, received help with our bags (the hotel doesn't have a lift) and arrived at our room. Thankfully, the airconditioning was on, which was welcome because it was beautiful day, and we weren't really dressed for sunny Venice yet and, of course, had been transporting our luggage.
The hotel is a three star. The rooms are compact, but the Tripadvisor comments about it being spotless are accurate. The bathroom has a shower and bath, which we were glad of at the end of long, hot days sightseeing in this stunning city.
Before we left the UK we went onto the Venice Connected website and booked our St Mark's museum pass (which meant we didn't have to join a long queue at the Doge's Palace and got us a discount on the Klimt special exhibition at the main museum), the Aliglaguna pass and three-day vaporetto ticket. These were all very useful but perhaps less so with the vaporetto pass because when we activated it we were not aware of the Friday 24-hour strike action. This meant we weren't able to use our tickets for a trip to Murano - we had to buy Alilaguna tickets to visit the island because we only heard about the strike the day before. The hotel did have a notice up earlier apparently, but we did not see it in time to change our plans. Anyway, proof you can't plan everything.
The best thing we did in advance was to book our visit to the Basilica on the Basilica website. For a couple of euros we were able to book the first entrance (9.45am) and saved ourselves from a very long queue indeed.
Piazza San Marco took my breath away. We were there early, so it wasn't terribly crowded at this point.
Just a point about the Basilica. If you have a backpack, large day pack or big camera bag (we had the latter) you may be asked to hand it over to the free luggage check-in which is down a side street to the left of the Basilica - there are maps and various warning signs concerning this at the entrance but some people missed it and were turned away inside which must have been frustrating.
On day one we wandered around the Dorsoduro and, as recommended, enjoyed getting thoroughly lost for a time and this was an incredible experience. We were so pleased to be staying in this area, which made us think that surely Venice is so much more romantic a city than Paris? Just our opinion.
We stumbled across the Santa Maria Della Salute church, and the opera house La Fenice, by wandering through the Dorsoduro, coming across beautiful squares and bridges. It was an enchanting first day.
We also stopped at Cantinone – Già Schiavi (Dorsoduro 992, Fondamenta Nani) for a spritz. This traditional wine bar was recommended in a piece in The Telegraph and was very atmospheric.
Wednesday was our early start for the Piazza San Marco and this was the day we took our gondola trip which took us under the Bridge of Sighs (which we walked over during our visit to the Doge's Palace earlier in the day). We paid 80 euros for 40 minutes.
Thursday was spent visiting San Polo and Santa Croce. We started the day with a visit to Rialto Market, which was pretty impressive but not as bustling as we expected.
We got properly lost trying to find Scula Grande di San Rocco and the Church of Santa Maria dei Frari. We got to both in the end and were in awe of the beauty and magnificence. At the Scula Grande there are mirrors in the centre of the room in the hall upstairs which make viewing the ceiling Tintoretto masterpieces much easier. The wood carvings in this room are just remarkable, as is the goldsmith work one floor up.
Friday was spent on Murano. We loved walking around the island and visiting the striking church. We saw some incredible craftsmanship, but a fair bit of tourist rubbish. Many shops had signs proclaiming Murano glass, as opposed to Chinese imports. We considered visiting Burano but, with the strike, there were fewer crossings and the whole business seemed a little uncertain. There was a large crowd waiting at Faro on Murano, hoping to get across. So we headed back to the Dorsoduro and explored the area around Campo Santa Margherita. Just stunning and many inviting places to pause and enjoy a prosecco.
Saturday was a short sightseeing day for us. We had to return to the hotel for our bags by 2pm, so we enjoyed another fantastic hotel breakfast (delicious fruit salad, cereals and pastries) and got the vaporetto at Ponte dell'Accademia to travel up the canal for a final day of exploring.
During our four-day visit we enjoyed gelato at Gelateria Nico (Fondamenta Zattere 922) and Majer, a chain which had friendly helpful staff and a great selection of baked goodies.
The pizza at Pizzeria ae Oche (Zattere and Santa Croce branches) was very good and we enjoyed meals at Al Nono Risorto (Santa Croce 2338, Sotoportego di Siora Bettina), amazing tiramisu at Al Casin dei Nobili (Zattere), lovely seafood risotto at La Piscina (Zattere) and lobster spagetti at Busa Alla Torre.
It was a really memorable trip and the sunny weather after a cold, rainy UK did wonders to lift the spirits.
We only had four days in Venice and saw a great deal. At times I thought this a pity - it would be better to have longer to digest the stupendous art and natural beauty, but I guess such is the lot of the tourist and it was a privilege to experience it at all. It's good when you can stop, sit down (in a church or museum) and perhaps see fewer 'sights' but experience more. That said, most of us are, I suppose, wondering in this economic climate when we will have the opportunity to return and don't want to miss a thing.
uklisa is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2012, 05:33 AM
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Good for you.
You have seen and enjoyed one of the wonders of this world--not everyone has been so lucky.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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Great report! Once again, I'm torn with adding another night back to Venice for my upcoming trip. Like you said, such is the lot of the tourist...
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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Sighing for Venice. Lovely TR. Hope you make it back for longer savoring.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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Yours is a very nice report, and I'm so happy to read one that isn't full of complaints. Lovely, and I too love Venice.

We don't get much vacation time, but did once spend a Biennale week in Venice, where we had a ball.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 04:48 PM
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Love Venice!
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 10:45 PM
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Loved revisiting Venice through your report! Thank you.
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 03:10 AM
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As I prefer Dorsoduro for hotels, I was interested to hear about your stay at the Isak Dinesen - will look it up now.
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Thank you. It was a wonderful trip. We loved the Dorsoduro location - close to major sights for convenience sake, yet far enough away to enjoy exploring away from the really mad crowds. And the hotel was really good - clean room, helpful staff, good breakfast. These are important factors for us, a large room isn't a deal breaker. The hotel was the Hotel American Dinesen.
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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yes, lovely, thanks for posting, lisa.

nice to know that Venice is still enchanting people.
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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 12:30 PM
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Hello uklisa, I know this trip report was from last year, but your post came up as I was searching on info for taking the Alilaguna to the airport from Dorsoduro. We are staying at the same hotel you stayed at (Dinesen) and wondering what the Alilaguna was like, how long the trip was back to the airport, etc. Thank you so much for your input, if you see this!
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Thanks to curlygirl for topping this. Great report!
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Great to read this report, I will be in Venice May 2013 ro 4 days and enjoyed your comments
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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Excellent details---thanks for posting
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 03:40 PM
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Thanks for a great report. We live in the UK and will be going to Venice next month, our first time. Staying in Dorsoduo, as well (Hotel Galleria). Can't wait!
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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Great report!
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 05:10 PM
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Thank you. Enjoyed this so much. Our first trip to Venice isn't until October of this year and am fairly salivating. I have the highest hopes thar our trip will be as lovely as yours.
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