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A Trip to Venice

A timeless city, unique and enticing

By Rachel DeemingPublished 12 days ago Updated 12 days ago 9 min read
A Trip to Venice
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

I was lucky enough to be in Venice a few weeks ago. It was booked by my husband as a birthday present, part of an extravaganza of treats arranged without me knowing. I am a lucky girl.

Who doesn't want to go to Venice? A completely unique city of history and fancy that has to be seen to be believed. Separate to the mainland, it looks like it is perched on the water. The association that it has with romance and passion has been perpetuated throughout the ages through associations like the legend of the lothario, Casanova and the decadence of its masked balls, popularised by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. It was a seat of power, with waterways lined with palaces that show this past, marble edifices that reflect the hot Italian sun, contrasting with the jade green of the lagoon.

Now a tourist bucket list destination, I was intrigued to see how it would live up to the idea that I had of it from books and travel programmes.

I was about to learn that nothing really prepares you for a trip to Venice.

It is truly unique.


We were met at the airport by a water taxi, a motor boat made of golden wood which raced between posts across the lagoon to the city. It had an air of the adventurous to it; I was reminded of 1960s' James Bond in a high speed chase.

Our wake - photo taken by autho

I felt the anticipation of the inexperienced traveller encountering a new city, seeing it emerge on the horizon, unknown: a little intimidating as it stood waiting, confident in what it could offer you: it was never short of visitors, it knew its attraction. Campaniles reach for the sky and mysterious domes squat beside them. Venice knows that you, the visitor, had only heard stories, fragments of others' memories and perspectives, and have no idea really of what is in store.

Crossing the lagoon, Venice tantalising on the horizon - photo by author

The boat was an extra special something organised by my husband, rather than taking the water bus and it started my rendezvous with Venice with exactly the right tone - exclusive but a bit racy with an air of the traditional.

Our hotel sign - photo taken by author

We pulled up at the hotel, the former house of an artist called Favretto, located on the Grand Canal. Pulling alongside the deck, our driver opened its gate and we hopped out. The hotel was not big, not a palazzo but it was central and it had marble and chandeliers. And we were not here for the hotel. This was our sleep base and haven for air conditioning.

Pulling up to our hotel in the water taxi - photo by author

We were here for Venice.


We left the hotel out the back: the land side. There was a courtyard and a tall gate and then we were in the street. Except Venetian streets are not wide, open walkways but narrow alleys, sheltered and dark, the tall buildings of many storeys blocking out the bright summer sun and channelling you like a labyrinth of stone. There is age here, from the narrowness that is present in lots of European towns and cities; it encloses you on all sides and wills you to sense the history in its bricks and pave stones and its grilled windows and ornate door knockers.

The courtyard at the hotel on the land side, taken at dusk - photo by author

You need to experience this for yourself.

It was disorienting at first - where were we going? Would we find the hotel again? Best advice I can give is get an app: a map app. Then you can pin your location and as long as there is no lag, return safely to your hotel. But I'd also bought a vintage map which we consulted for an overview when needed. It cost 99p in a British charity shop and would have languished there still if I had not selected it. It was from the 1960s (like our boat ride) - Venice hadn't changed. I wondered about the people who had used it before - had they had a good time?

By TE LUN OU YANG on Unsplash

The alleys would open up into piazzas or market places. It was like you had stumbled across these open spaces, that they appeared by accident. I remember this from a trip to Rome some years previously; the excitement of turning a corner and a whole new space appearing that was filled with tables of people, supping coffees or cocktails and soaking up the atmosphere; or a fountain of classical figures, with blue water and white marble.

Quiet and then, life. One minute, dark stone and echoes: next minute, light and bustle.

Wider spaces where the light was allowed - photo taken by author

The streets obviously get more crowded the closer that you get to the main tourist attractions with stalls of souvenirs and designer shops offering luxury goods through well-staged windows. There are places to eat, hatches with pizza and gelato, restaurants with outdoor tables although piazzas are contained so there are no great views to drink in.

But that experience of fluctuating between dark and light, enclosure and space, quiet then busy was a key feature of our visit to Venice. And views appeared through chinks in the architecture; where one palazzo ended and another began, a canal intervening, a bridge traversing and a glimpse of a building across water, a gondola drifting past or a boat with supplies, boxed to the hilt, wake-creating as it pursues its delivery path.

Bustle and busyness on the canals - photo taken by author

Our hotel's deck had a few tables and chairs outside where you could sit and watch the Venetian world pass by. Because it was on the Grand Canal, this meant that there was always water traffic. I love to people watch. I think most writers do.

Next to our deck was a small pontoon that was separate to our seating area but it provided a viewpoint for walkers to see the canal. Occasionally, a new person would pop out from behind the wall, having been drawn by the opening between the buildings to this point, enticed by a photo opportunity, their phone in hand. And some people would arrive there, Venetians who would kiss their loved one before hopping out of the boat, hand bag slung over shoulder before heading off inland.

By Anna-Philine on Unsplash

There is something far more glamorous to me about a water taxi than a normal cab. I would imagine for most Venetians it is just a practicality but it does have more of a romantic air, more so than climbing out of a car. Is this because it is unusual or is there something intrinsically more attractive about travelling on water, open to the air? Maybe it's just Venice...

Across from our hotel deck was a small canal with a bridge crossing it. Tourists went to and fro as we sat there, small figures in the distance. When looking back at us, they would have seen a building smaller than the palazzos either side of it, squatter and busier. I found this bridge tantalising - what does the hotel look like from there? How do we get to that place? It was my mission to find it, the thrill of seeking it out more than remarkable religious frescoes or monuments.

By Diego Gennaro on Unsplash

And what about a gondola ride? No trip to Venice would be complete without this. It's tacky, it's expensive but it's essential. And I loved it. It is also a way of seeing Venice which is more tranquil. You escape the hoards, the heat. An Italian in a stripy top with broken English points out sights. The heights of the buildings are more pronounced as you ride the water beneath them.

Under a bridge on a gondola - better not to be tall - photo by author

You see ancient doors where Venetians would have alighted onto a stone dock and then entered, their weathered wood and hinges having absorbed years of secret visitors and festive masqueraders, cloaked and mysterious.

By Martin Widenka on Unsplash

You see unusual graffiti or artwork depending on your view, hidden unless you're drifting past. Who is this mystery girl?

Artwork or graffiti - photo taken by author

The steady slosh of the water against the gondola and gentle clunk as the gondolier uses his punt to propel you through the water is an experience not to be missed.

The Grand Canal - photo taken by author

Don't see it as a waste of money - a tourist trap. It is a way the Italians can take too much of your tourist currency but it is worth it and it is exceptional. The Bridge of Sighs (below) needs to be seen from the canal and from a gondola, even better.

Everyone knows the main attractions of Venice: St Mark's Square, Ponte Rialto, the Bridge of Sighs, the Grand Canal. And Venice is easy to walk - it's not that big really and whilst it's higgledy piggledy in a lot of ways in terms of accessibility - everything feels a little indirect - you can explore it easily wearing comfortable shoes.

Ponte Rialto - photo taken by author

But I would urge you to go out when the streets are empty and walk it on your own without the crowds. We caught the water bus to the airport and our flight was early morning. We left the hotel while it was still dark and made our way to St Mark's Square. The streets were deserted, not even a cat.

Venice in the dawn light - photo taken by author

It was eerie and yet, tranquil simultaneously. We trundled our suitcases down empty streets, passing the fish market where the buzz of people talking and the slightly pongy smell of fresh fish previously permeated the air, now just a covered space by the water.

Walking the streets of Venice at dawn - photo taken by author

Stalls were shuttered, no gaudy masks or t-shirts and caps on display. Up and over the Ponte Rialto, no-one to jostle or dodge past, and the canal still.

You could almost imagine that it was just you there.

When we arrived at St. Mark's in record time, it was a marked contrast to when we had been there in the heat of the day. The throngs that we had competed with were still tucked up with only a bare handful of deliveries being made. It was too early even for pigeons and gulls.

St Mark's at dawn - photo taken by author

Deserted, you could take in its size and absorb the atmosphere of its past, still standing and inspiring centuries later. The lighting also lent it a romance not present in the glare of the sun; muted somehow, more majestic.

St Mark's Square at dawn - photo taken by author

This was our last experience before leaving Venice and I loved it, seeing Venice bare, without its adoring flocks.

And so, it was time to go.

I think this is it, Venice. I don't know when I will see you again, maybe never. Your beauty and your quirks will last in my mind forever. It was a joy to see you, at last.

I suppose you want to know if I ever made it to that little bridge that I so wistfully viewed from the deck. Well, I may have...

Photo author's own


Thanks for reading about my short break in Venice. I hope that it inspires you to see it for yourself or if you have already, that my story has allowed you the means to revisit happy memories of its unique qualities.

I have provided a link below to a short story that I wrote which features Venice in it. Please comment if you read it. I was lucky enough to be placed as runner-up for my submission, the first time my work was applauded with a placing.

If you liked this, you may like this poem I wrote about Portmeirion:

This was another birthday surprise and equally as beguiling.

Thanks for stopping by!

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About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.

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Comments (9)

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  • Naveed10 days ago

    Absolutely amazing! And you are so beautiful....😍😘🥰

  • I love to people watch too! Also, that mystery girl, I'd like to think of it as an artwork rather than a graffiti. All your photos very stunning and you're so beautiful! 😍

  • Hannah Moore12 days ago

    It really is like nowhere else. Or rather, a bit like several places, yet nowhere is quite like it.

  • I think you should talk to Condé Nast about writing articles for them! This was absolutely amazing!

  • I skivved off work early so I could read this! And, it wa so worth it. Brillianlty written, whimsical, informative, descriptive.All the things! Brilliant! And I so glad you had such a lovely time-I now want to visit! 🤍

  • Great writing 📝 I'm glad that you had a jest Time❤️🎉✌️

  • Andrei Z.12 days ago

    Venice is indeed a lovely city!

  • That graffiti photo of the woman in the hat is brilliantly composed! I loved all of these photos but that one in particular. This was a wonderful read… Thank you so much for sharing this trip with us! I was there once but just for a few hours and it was soooo hot … I remember spending longer trying to get back to my motorbike than enjoying 🙈🙈🙈 So I very much enjoyed being able to see it again through your lens ✨

  • Great work! Beautiful pictures! Did you find the identity of the mystery girl?!?!??

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