Sitting in the outside deck seats at the front of the vaporetto on the No. 2.1 route, the sun shining down on us as we slid under Rialto Bridge down the Grand Canal, I thought how lucky we’d been to have escaped the terrible wet weather in the UK. Admittedly it wasn’t much warmer than at home but the light was magical, as it nearly always is in Venice in October/November, every view like a Canaletto painting. This was our eleventh short break in Venice, more often than not we go there in late October or early November when our hotel is cheaper and there are fewer visitors in the city but this year we were a week later than usual (13 November) but were having a really good time: our early EasyJet flight from Gatwick had been relatively cheap and the outward flight had left only a little late; the reception manager at our usual 3 star hotel not far from Rialto had welcomed us like old friends and upgraded our standard double to the largest room he had available. We were back in a city we love and had two more days to see a few more things we’d not seen before.
On this visit our plan was to see the interior of Teatro La Fenice, Scuolo di Grande Rocco with its collection of work by Tinteretto, San Michele (the cemetery island), Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Campo Santa Maria Formosa plus a few churches that my husband hadn’t yet managed to see inside: there are 100 churches in Venice and although he is not religious he loves to see the works of art by famous artists such as Bellini, Ttitian, Tinteretto and Veronese – in situ in the churches for which they were painted. He will never get to see them all as some of the churches are hardly ever open now, if at all. I also wanted to find my favourite place to buy clothes and accessories; Banco Lotto, a shop that has moved from Castello to San Silvestro and sells things made by women in the prison on Giudecca who are being trained as seamstresses.
Instead of our usual vaporetto pass for 2 or 3 days on this visit we only bought a 24 hour pass but planned to make good use of this time, and we did; the time starts when you tap in at the start of the first journey and you can get on your last trip just before the 24 hours is up. On all but one journey we managed to get front seats on the deck at the front so had wonderful views while sitting in the sun.
We always walk a lot in Venice and now rarely get lost. Exploring on foot is a wonderful (and free) way to discover this beautiful place and a good way to walk off the excesses of eating. Eating and drinking is always good in Venice, especially if one avoids the obvious tourist spots and a few cicchetti or a tramezzino with a glass of wine or spritz is all we need between a good breakfast and our evening meal. Our hotel is 3 star on a bed and breakfast but the restaurant is very good and reasonably priced so on this visit we ate there every evening from the a la carte menu, usually just 2 courses, but with half a litre of house red every evening.
By the end of the week we had done everything we hoped to do, and more, and I will do separate reviews of some of them. The one disappointment on this holiday was our favourite evening walk to St Mark’s Square which is usually atmospheric but on this occasion the whole area resembled a building site; we hadn’t realised so much work was being carried out and I feel sorry for anyone who was seeing it for the first or only time – at least we’ve seen it many times and hopefully will do so again when the work is finished.
Throughout the week my husband kept a record of everything we spent; obviously our incidental costs and entrance to museums etc. would be different from other peoples expenditure and some people might eat in more expensive restaurants than we did but it does give some idea of how much things cost in Venice. Please note that some of the entrance fees are reduced for over 60’s and an even bigger reduction for over 75’s at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia – but you do need to show proof of age. On this trip I only bought a silk scrunchy and a lovely large scarf from Banco Lotto, rather than a coat or dress. The only other gifts we bought were Italian biscuits and coffee, purchased in local supermarkets.
Breakdown of transport and hotel costs
EasyJet flights from Gatwick including one case in the hold (£158), off airport parking (£34.38) transfers to and from Marco Polo Airport to Rialto on Alilaguna (54 Euros), 4 nights bed and breakfast at 3* hotel plus a la carte 2 course evening meals there with half litre of house red (£575.57). Local tax that had to be paid in cash at the hotel (28 Euros).
Breakfast at Gatwick, snacks and water at Marco Polo airport, entrance fees to museums/galleries, reduced entry to Teatro La Fenice (18 Euros), 1 Chorus churches pass (12 Euros – valid a year), 24 hour vaporetto passes (50 Euros) lunches, snacks, icecreams, spritz and hot drinks, public toilets when necessary (generally 1.5 Euros), donations in churches and to an Italian charity, tips, booklets, gifts to bring home.
OVERALL TOTAL IN STERLING:: £1,253.32 for the two of us, so a reasonable £626 .66 per person.