On our one completely free day in Venice, we woke to rain. The sight of cloudy skies and drizzle made us jump back in our beds and try to drift back to sleep. Our efforts were unsuccessful, and why would you want to sleep in when you have a stunning city like Venice to explore? It’s amazing in any weather!

After breakfast, we took the the vaporetto (water bus) from outside our hotel on Giudecca island over to Zattere, which is in the Dorsoduro district, close to the Accademia bridge. This area is a lot less crowded than the San Marco Square and Rialto bridge areas. It was lovely to walk through quiet laneways until we reached the Accademia bridge.

Accademia bridge, Venice backstreets, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

The bridge had hundreds or maybe thousands of padlocks on it, where lovers from all over the world have declared their love and tossed their key into the Grand Canal below. Apparently they have to regularly remove the locks, as the weight becomes too heavy for the bridge’s structure.

As we wandered on to the area north of the bridge, the rain returned. Squeezing beneath one umbrella was fine while it was drizzling, but as the rain got heavier, we really needed a second umbrella. When we entered the next Piazza, there he was, an opportunistic Venetian selling cheap crappy umbrellas for 10 euros each! I couldn’t argue – I needed an umbrella, so I paid the price and we continued walking. Needless to say, the umbrella only lasted until later that afternoon, when a gust of wind blew the fabric from the frame and it ended up in a litter bin! Still, it sheltered me from the rain for a few hours.

Having been told it’s very easy to get lost in Venice, we took our map with us, but we only had a vague notion of where we were going. We just wanted to stroll and explore the back streets away from crowds like this…

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Just near San Marco Square, with the Doge’s Palace in the background. This is a relatively quiet time, probably due to the rain. We were there another day and you could hardly move for the people! It’s a pickpocket’s paradise!

We meandered through the narrow streets until we came across Campo di Maurizio, where we found a bronze statue of Daniele Manin, sculpted and erected in 1875 by Luigi Borro. Manin was a Venetian patriot and he is accompanied by the winged lion, which is the symbol of Venice. The lion was particularly interesting and some passing children were fascinated by him.

Manin, Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

We found more beautiful buildings and interesting sights as we continued our stroll. I’m still not really sure of the route we took, but I didn’t feel lost at any time.

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

We stood and watching the garbage boats going about their business. I hadn’t really thought about the rubbish removal until we saw this.

Everyone was rugged up due to the rain …

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Every time we crossed a bridge, we enjoyed a different view of the pretty little canals.

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

There were beautiful moorish-inspired buildings…

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Ornate wrought iron bridge to a private home’s entrance … isn’t it special?

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Beautiful wrought iron gate to a private courtyard

 

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Papa watering the garden

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Gorgeous violets in a window box

Venice, backstreets, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Gondolier on the canal

As we moved closer to the Rialto bridge, the crowds began to grow. We wanted to walk down one side of the Grand Canal to get a photo of the bridge, but it was just too crowded – and we visited in April, which is not peak season at all!

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

View of the very busy Grand Canal from the Rialto bridge

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Gondolas awaiting the tourists near the Rialto bridge

As we had intended to explore the less busy areas, we wandered across the bridge and headed west toward the Frari church. By this time, we were feeling like some refreshment, and we needed to go to the toilet. The previous day, out of necessity, we had visited a public convenience which cost us 4 euros EACH (about $6 AUD) to use! This was a very expensive comfort stop. When you purchase food and/or drinks from a cafe, you can ask to use their toilets, so when we came across a little cafe in a small side lane, we popped in. The Caffe del Doge was full of locals who looked us up and down, probably wondering how we’d stumbled across their local retreat. We ordered a cappuccino and a tea to warm ourselves up. I drink black tea, and it was served in a plunger pot (not that unusual), but it was accompanied by a glass of crushed ice. I’ve never seen this before, but it was a great idea. Because I don’t take milk, I sometimes have to wait 10-15 minutes before I can drink my tea. The ice solved that problem! There was a range of pastries on offer, as well as lots of pizza, which is sold by the piece. You pay more to sit down and drink (locals stand at the bar), but we were happy to pay the price to rest – and use their bathroom!

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Morning tea at the Caffe del Doge, Venice

Water fountain, Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

While we had to pay to go to the toilet in Venice, the drinking water was free. There were a variety of fountains dotted around the city. You just need to carry a bottle, and you can refill it any time. Although we were unsure about these fountains at first, the water is clean and fine to drink.

Gondolier, Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

We spotted this young gondolier, with his cool stance, dressed in the traditional striped shirt – albeit beneath the rain jacket – and boater hat.

After a while, we came across a street food place which looked good, so we decided to have some lunch there. The calamari was delicious and so was everything else we chose. Quick, friendly service too!

Street food, Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

Venice, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project

And before we knew it, we had to turn back towards San Marco Square, where we were going to climb the Campanile (tower).

I highly recommend going for a wander around the streets of Venice. Sure, you risk getting lost, but you just keep walking until you reach a canal. Remember, it’s an island – or rather, a series of islands, so you can’t go too far! We found the locals helpful when we asked the way back to San Marco – we only got one bum steer, and I was able to work out where to go using the map.

Have you visited Venice? Did you see more than the usual tourist sights? What was your favourite part? Please let me know in the comments box below.

The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone!  Read more posts in this fascinating series here:

 Some Enchanted Evening in Venice – Eternal Rome: I only just met you, but I think I love you –  A trip to Villa San Michele, Anacapri – Cooking up an Italian storm in Roma – Finding the best gelato in Italy

Linking up with A Brit & A Southerner for #WeekendWanderlust Weekend-Wanderlust-Logo-V21

…and Contented Traveller for #WkendTravelInspirationweekend-travel-inspiration-600x600