Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016
Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016

The magic of Venezia

Close-up of the zodiac symbols on St. Mark's Clock Tower

Close-up of the zodiac symbols on St. Mark's Clock Tower

Venezia is unlike any other place on the planet. 

Venice is one of our all time favorite places to visit.  So many wonderful churches, museums, and so much history packed into 2 square miles of land interspersed with narrow alleys and canals. 

A special treat during this visit was visiting the inside of the historic  St. Mark's clock tower, which dates from the 15th century.  Seeing the intricate inner workings and Piazza San Marco from the clock tower was something we will never forget. 

We also took the "Secret Itinerary" tour of the Doges Palace, which takes you behind the scenes into offices and dungeons not normally open to the public. The tour ends when you unexpectedly emerge from a wardrobe into one of the many ornate courtrooms in the palace. The best part of the tour was seeing the attic supports for the magnificent ceiling painting below.   

Selfie on the Giudecca

Selfie on the Giudecca

The key for the adventurous tourist is to wander. Don’t worry about getting lost. In fact, get as lost as you can. Keep reminding yourself “I’m on an island and I can’t get off.
— Rick Steves
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Outdated tour books are just one of the treasures awaiting you at the Aqua Alta Bookstore!

The importance of planning ahead. 

Impromptu travel decisions can be some of the most memorable! However, it's important to research and plan ahead to make the most of your time. We were able to see the inside of the clock tower and hidden gems of the Doges Palace because we booked far in advance.

One mistake we won't repeat...not checking the calendar for holidays! We realized upon our arrival in Venice that it was Easter, the holiest day of the Christian calendar, and everyone wanted to celebrate in Venice! When we think Easter, we think April, but it was unusually early this year in March.  Lesson learned.

Aqua Alta Books

Another highlight was visiting Aqua Alta bookstore.  It has various boats filled with books, stacks of books, and even a staircase make of books that take you to a view of the canal behind the store.  A man in a tri-corner hat and several cats are there to greet you. (The cats seem to own the store!)