A Week in Venice, Italy
Venice was absolutely magical. We had the best time. I still think about it now, over a week after getting home, and am just like, “I can’t believe that place exists.” It is one of the most unique and special cities I’ve visited. There is truly nothing like it. I’ve never seen anything like it, been anywhere like it… it’s really just such a distinctive, one of a kind place.
This is probably obvious but I didn’t know: there are no cars on the island! The island is very small and relatively easy to get around but you will either be on foot or by boat. The vaporetto (public transporation/water bus) is very easy to navigate. There are no real “roads” in Venice, all just little alleyways (with bridges every few minutes). It’s very picturesque and beautiful but you are going to want to wear comfortable shoes (and get really familiar with the vaporetto — I highly recommend buying a pass for the days that you are there… we rode it 5 or 6 times a day, it was worth it!). Private water taxis are available but they are very expensive. Think 90 euro for a 15 minute ride home from dinner.
I got asked if Venice would be good for a solo trip. Maybe? I think it depends on your personality… I found it a bit hard to navigate, and for activities you’ll probably be bored after a few days. Personally I think Venice is best done for a romantic vacation or possibly with a small group of friends. But that’s my take. When I travel alone I want there to be a lot to do and I personally think it would get old after more than 3 days if you were alone. I also would have been nervous getting around at night as all those little alleys can be a lot to navigate (and would probably feel dangerous to me if I were alone).
I would totally go for the art biennale by myself, I just think I’d be nervous getting around at night. Again, everyone is different but this wouldn’t be my first choice for a solo trip. I would come back with girlfriends, and it’s very romantic — perfect as a romantic getaway!
I flew to Atlanta and then had a direct flight to Venice. There are a lot of direct flights out of Atlanta. From the airport, I recommend taking the vaporetto. It will require a little research as to what stop to get off at, but it’s truly so easy. You can take an uber but cars can only go so far so they will drop you off at a boat terminal where you can either take the vaporetto or a private water taxi. Just take the vaporetto from the start.
Our friends told us that the best way to end the trip is to take a private water taxi to the airport from your hotel. We did this and it was amazing. It was about a 30 minute ride and such a special way to end the trip. It’s expensive (140 euro) but hugely convenient and a special, romantic way to end the trip.
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at Ca di Dio which was absolutely perfect. There are not enough words for how much I loved it. This came highly recommended by a few of you and it was just the best little spot. Every single thing about it.
Our room was beautiful. Murano glass lamps, a pink marble bathroom, a big fluffy bed, etc. It was a great location too; especially for the biennale as it is super close to the Giardini. They have a beautiful courtyard where you can sit and have a drink before or after dinner, and this may sound silly and you may be jet lagged DO NOT SLEEP ON THE FREE BREAKFAST. We woke up very hungry and were amazed by the bountiful breakfast. Pitchers with every sort of juice you could ever want (I loved the green juice). Piles of croissants and pastries. Freshly cooked scrambled eggs. I could go on. We loved it.
The staff is also super attentive (shout out to Giada!); they were great at helping us with reservations for our meals, and every day they have a free boat ride to Murano where you can visit their glass factory (definitely recommend doing this!)
Where We Ate:
I am someone who travels to eat. It can be a huge pain for whoever I am traveling with (I agonize over where to have each meal, and what to order!) but it’s also fun. I am not sharing every single place we ate at as some weren’t really worth talking about.
Ristorante da ivo
This was far and away the most recommended restaurant when I polled you. And for good reason, it has a celebrity following (George Clooney had his bachelor party there, plus photos of various celebs line the walls). That being said, the food was good but not great. I randomly loved the stuffed squash blossoms (they were stuffed with mini shrimp) but I would say everything else was pretty medium. Not bad but not worth the hype in my mind. I will say that dessert was excellent – probably the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. I am happy we went (so that we could see what the hype is about) but I wouldn’t go back). You can make a reservation online which is nice.
Trattoria Da Jonny
We had an amazing (long, leisurely) lunch here! It was a quick walk from Ca di Dio and came highly recommended by the hotel’s team. It was delicious. The bacon wrapped fish was especially good. We ordered a bottle of wine and they coursed everything for us. No one was in any sort of rush for us to leave, the staff was all very friendly (my boyfriend and the bartender ended up trading dad jokes).
Ristorante Osteria Da Fiori
I am so glad we went here. It was a splurge but it was the best meal of the trip. We did the tasting menu and it was absolutely incredible. It has a Michelin star for good reason. Creative and special. Highlights for me were the calamari pasta and the spider crab. Also the lemon merengue for dessert. The wine list was great too! You can make a reservation online. My friend Holley had the pro-tip of asking for the romantic table by the canal. I loved the vibe — really amazing service, white linens, Murano glass tumblers of every color adding a bit of fun to the tables. I will be thinking about this spot for a long time.
We went to lunch with our friend here and wow, it was special! The hotel is on its own little island so you take a boat from San Marco. We sat outside, right on the water and every bite was perfection from the asparagus and shrimp tempura to the linguini with clams (my entree). Even the marinated anchovies (I was hesitant about this!) were delicious! Both of the guys had fish and they were delicious.
We went here for casual pizzas after biennale events and it was SO GOOD. Just really delightful, easy, yummy pizzas. The wine list is decent and it wasn’t expensive at all. The perfect easy no fuss meal. (This was the night that we closed down the bar at the St. Regis Hotel so I am glad I’d eaten some carbs first!).
This is actually the oldest restaurant in Venice. Our menus indicated that it was established in 1500… can you even imagine!? It was incredible. It even has its own private bridge. We had the sole (just okay), the seafood assortment (really good), and the lobster spaghetti (out of this world, I would eat it every night if I could). A really special meal.
ciccheti and/or street pizza on Via Garibaldi
This street (very close to the Giardini and Arsenale — both venues for the Biennale) is lined with little restaurants and bars. You cannot go wrong. We had great pizza + snacks here several times. Just stroll the street, see what looks good, and wander in. Such a fun way to spend an hour or two in between the biennale.
What We Did
glass factory tour in Murano
One really cool perk of staying at Ca di Dio is that every morning (at either 10 or 11am), they offer a complimentary trip (including transportation) to Murano, to the glass factory they work with (Vetreria Artistica LP). We got to see how the Maestro makes glass vases (and a horse figurine — he made it in just 90 seconds) and then do a little shopping afterwards. This was really cool, I would highly recommend it. The trip all in all takes about two hours so it is not a huge time commitment.
Have a bellini at Harry’s
Harry’s is an iconic bar from the 1930’s on the corner of San Marco. They actually invented the Bellini! These are so good. I would recommend going for just one as a) this place gets PACKED and b) you are paying more for the experience than the drink. One (very small) bellini will run you a cool 22 euro.
visit the Peggy Guggenheim collection
This was my number one favorite thing that we did. I am a big art lover and researched Peggy Guggenheim before I left but just fell in love with her and her art collection while we were there. The museum is in her old home which is really special. She has an incredible collection of modern art. Lots of Jackson Pollock (she really is the one who discovered and “made” him), several Kandinsky pieces (he’s a fav of mine), gorgeous Picassos (all currently on display to commemorate 50 years since his death), tons of surrealist pieces… I could go on!
get gelato at suso
Our friend told us that Suso is THE spot for gelato and he was not wrong! It was SO delicious. I highly recommend my combination: one scoop passionfruit, one scoop greek yogurt with fresh passionfruit seeds. I will be dreaming about this for a long time!
Spritzes on the Square
If you walk along San Marco Square there are zillions of cute spots along the perimeter. This was a must for us most nights on our walks to dinner. Stop, have a spritz, continue the walk to dinner. I am pretty sure my blood was at least 5% Aperol by the time we flew home.
Libreria Acqua Alta
This is a bookstore with gondolas and cats! It is very charming but it was very crowded and the cats were all hiding. Also, it’s very instagrammy so just be prepared for long lines of people wanting to take their photos in the gondola with stacks of books. Cute spot but I would say to avoid it if you dislike crowds or can get claustrophobic. (Me.) I would have liked to stay longer as they had an incredible selection of old books.
close down the bar at the st. regis
…Why not!? This is a fun, fancy bar and they stay open later than most of the bars in Venice. A great cocktail list, delicious wine, and fun little snacks. You don’t have to be a guest to go to the bar, but our friend had stayed there before and knew the ropes.
shopping at fondaco dei tedeschi
Admittedly I didn’t buy anything but I wanted to, we were just in a rush. This is one of the coolest department stores I have ever visited… up there with Liberty of London. I could have spent all day here but we only had about 30 minutes. The building has a lot of history (at one point it was the Venice headquarters for the Italian postal service. In 2008 it was reimagined into an incredible department store (designed by Rem Koolhaas!). The store itself is pretty amazing, so many fav (and new) brands, loads of fashion, beauty, + design-y houseware type things. I’ve heard that eating lunch on the terrace is pretty dreamy!
The best way to end the trip: taking a private water taxi to the airport.