Although I don’t live by a church in England, I’m sure the bells do not ring very often. In Venice, however, they not only ring on the hour, but on the half hour, and sometimes at random times for about 5 minutes. They ring early in the morning, and even as late as midnight. Luckily, I put it down to being part of the charm of the city, though I may not have enjoyed it as much if I didn’t possess the ability sleep through basically everything.
Thankfully, the bells did serve to remind me that time was ticking on the Venice leg of my trip, and we were soon on our way to San Marco Square again to kick start our day. As we crossed a charming bridge close to our hotel, we saw a gondola bobbing about on the canal, with a striped-shirt-wearing man standing close by. While not something at the top of my list, it was the one thing my boyfriend had repeatedly said he wanted to do while in Venice.
Apparently you can’t go to Venice and not take a gondola ride? Which I’m sure is the reason they charge a shocking €80 for a 30 minute ride. Although I did enjoy the experience and can happily tick it off any future bucket list, I spent a fair amount of time worrying we were going to crash or experience a Titanic-like collision with the corner of a building. I should have relaxed a bit more and trusted the gondolier, but I’m not good with boats. However, as negative as I may sound, the perspective from the gondola is so different to the one we had walking around, and it was really interesting to see how the canals are used and the doorways which back right on to the canal. Flooding must be a nightmare for so many people!
Once safely back on Venice’s version of firm land, we made our way to Palazzo Ducale, which I’d read about and was high on my to-see list in Venice. What initially seemed as a steep entrance fee of €19 each, it soon became apparent that we got to see quite a lot with our tickets. As well as getting to see the old legal rooms with huge, impressive paintings, one of my favourite parts, if not a bit creepy, was the tour of the old prisons. After walking across the famous Bridge of Sighs, we wandered among the old prison cells, fascinated by the conditions. It felt super eery there, so while I found it really interesting, I wasn’t keen to hang around too long.
Leaving the palace, we braved a walk along the waterfront, fighting our way through the throngs of tourists to catch a glimpse of the Bridge of Sighs from the outside, before admitting defeat and retreating once again to the maze of side streets. All this walking had, yet again, worked up an appetite, so we attempted to wander in the direction of a funky deli we’d spotted yesterday. Venice has this amazing ability to allow you to find something, and then never find it again, so I didn’t hold out much hope. In fact, we had to walk for quite a while before we stumbled upon it again, but I am so glad we did. The food there was delicious and we were able to watch them making fresh pizzas in front of us. If there’s one thing I love watching, it’s how people make food!
Watching other people work was actually really tiring – along with all the walking we’d done so far – and so we had to make a pit stop at the hotel for a quick nap before getting ready for dinner. As we had family also on a city break in Venice, we’d made plans to meet for dinner on both of our last nights. After a few drinks at their hotel, we made our way for one of the back streets, searching for a restaurant away from the tourist trail. Stumbling upon Pizzeria Birreria Barbanera, it turned out to be one of the best meals of my entire trip. The place wasn’t rammed with tourists, the food was delicious and the bill was half of that in the tourist hotspots. After finishing the night with some gelato and a cannoli, it could not have been a better end to our last night in Venice!