Italian road trip – Day 3 – Venice – Part 1

On the third day of our Italian road trip, we left Florence and started on our way to Venice.

This post contains 50 photos, so get ready to spend about 15-20 minutes here. You can see a slideshow below, or you can scroll down to see each photo alongside my thoughts.

First, we needed to find a place to stay for the night. We kept driving and driving, through Modena and on to Ferrara, but no decent hotel or pension presented itself to us. We veered off the highway, hoping to find a nice, quiet pension in the countryside, but we couldn’t see anything. It was getting darker, and we were getting desperate. We were tired after a long day of walking and driving, and we wanted to rest.

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On the outskirts of Ferrara, a little 2-star hotel appeared on the left. During our road trip, we tried our best to stay at 3 or 4-star lodging, because of various bad experiences we’ve had in the past, but we hadn’t seen a hotel for miles and miles, so we thought we’d give it a try. We stopped and asked to see a room. What a pleasant surprise awaited us!

The rooms were clean, the furniture was virtually new, the bathrooms were wonderful, and the water was incredibly hot. This was really a 3-star hotel, newly furnished, but they didn’t have an elevator, so they didn’t get the extra star. The price was right, breakfast was included, so we quickly unloaded our stuff and jumped into a nice, hot shower. Afterward, I snuck out onto the balcony and took night shots of a few factories outside the city.

In the morning, we arose well-rested and got on our way through the Emilia Romagna countryside, toward Venice.

The sunrise was beautiful, so naturally, we stopped so I could take photos. In this next photo, a bird flies right over the morning sun.

A barbed wire fence laid around the perimeter of a farm, coupled with some beautiful shrubbery and the morning sun, made for an interesting photo opportunity.

One beautiful aspect of the Italian countryside, particularly in the flat regions, is the trees planted here and there to give the landscape some relief.

That particular morning, a thin but visible layer of frost had formed on the fields, and a beautiful, thin fog filtered the sunlight nicely.

With the photo-taking break over, we got back in the car and drove straight to Venice. There was no more time to waste if we wanted to see the city. One thing people who haven’t visited Venice may not know is that no cars are allowed in the city. There really is no room for them. First, the only “roads” in the city are the canals, where cars just won’t do unless they can float and maneuver on water, and most of the alleys and passageways in the city are too narrow for cars. So we did the only thing we could do: we parked our rental car in a huge parking lot, and took a water taxi into Venice.

As you can see from the photo above, and the next ones, we weren’t the only ones who needed to take a boat to get there. Virtually all goods that arrive into the city (food, merchandise, etc.) have to be brought in by boat.

Even the police has to get around in boats. Boats are the cars of Venice.

I love these wooden boats. I think they’re incredibly classy.

As we rode the water taxi, we began to enter into the heart of Venice, and the buildings began to show more character and color.

We stayed on the water taxi until the Ponte di Rialto, where we decided to take a gondola ride.

If boats are the cars of Venice, then gondolas are its limousines, and we weren’t about miss the chance to ride in one. The price was definitely right: about €80 for five people, for a half hour’s ride. It can go up to €200 per half hour during the summer months.

Our gondolier soon turned off the Grand Canal, into a narrow side canal that squeezed its way past old buildings, some better maintained than other, all of them standing proud, having seen time itself flow past them.

Water damage was clearly visible on the once-majestic doors that led into the villas of the Venetian merchants.

We visited during the time of the annual Venice Carnival, when masked participants parade through the city, competing for prizes for the best costume.

The bulk of the costumed paraders was in the Piazza di San Marco, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Our gondolier soon returned to the Grand Canal, signaling the end of our ride. We got out and stepped into an unassuming pizza place across the sidewalk from the gondola station. That pizza was the best we had in Italy — better than the pizza at a fancy restaurant right on the Grand Canal — and quite possibly the best we’ve had in years.

After a delicious lunch, we headed toward the Piazza di San Marco. On the way, I saw another absolutely beautiful wooden boat. I’d love to have one of these boats someday.

We soon arrived in the piazza, and started to see more costume-wearers like these.

This kid was wearing a costume, too. And some pigeon thought it’d be really funny to sit on his head. What made it hilarious is the kid knew something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Make sure to stay tuned for the second post with photos from Venice, as well as the rest of the posts from the Italian road trip series. If you’d like to license any of the photos you saw here, they’re all available in the Venice gallery of my photo catalog. Till next time, I leave you with a photo from Piazza di San Marco.


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