Venice: A solo trip
January 1, 1970
by Inês Mota
As everyone knows, Venice is a truly unique city enchanting its visitors with water streets, great history and culture. It’s also very romantic – tempting nocturnal strolls, providing amazing views at every corner and some quiet little streets to roam about. So, being there on my own, I was expecting to feel a little like a candle in the middle of somebody else’s dinner. Yet, it only made me fall more in love with the city itself. Obviously, I still plan on visiting Venice with my loved one someday, but this quick solo visit was very liberating and artistically fulfilling. In a way, this freed me up from the need of seeing all the main touristic attractions. Thereby, when I revisit, I’ll be able to simply relax and enjoy the city for its beautiful singularity.
Arriving in Venice
I’m currently living in Brescia, in the North of Italy, as an Erasmus student, so I was able to visit Venice using Flixbus. In my experience, Flixbus offers excellent services. Very cheap prices and many connections throughout Europe. Also, you have free Wi-fi on the bus, very spacious seats, power sockets and even a microwave! So it was a very pleasant 3 hour ride.
I arrived in Venice Tronchetto. From there I went to Piazzale di Roma (about a 20 min walk) and took a vaporetto (number 2) to get to my hostel: Generator Venice. I bought a 3 day pass to use the vaporetti – it cost me 22€ and was absolutely worth it. Half an hour later I got out at Zitelle stop and the hostel was right next to it.
Generator was also a great choice. Amazing location overlooking the Canale della Giudecca with views to Piazza San Marco at a very low price for Venice. Although, breakfast wasn’t included – it was 4€ and there wasn’t much variety – the beds were very comfortable, the Wi-fi worked very well and there was a really good vibe between people in the common area. However, to light sleepers like me, I would advise to bring some ear plugs and a blindfold if you stay in a shared room. It gets a bit noisy in the morning with loud opening and closing of doors starting at 6 am.
Despite some rough waking up everything would be compensated when I first stepped outside. I stayed in Venice in the end of March and every morning, the views were just breathtaking. Everything was covered by a dreamy fog combined with some rays of the rising sun. It was one of the most amazing and magical views I’ve seen in my life.
Usually, when I arrive in a city where I’m staying for more than one day, I start by wandering around, without some kind of purpose, just to get a sense of the place. In Venice it was no different. I came to understand that here there aren’t a lot of ways to get somewhere and if you want to get there fast, it’s either impossible or involves a boat (or both). So, if you are here for a short stay like me, there’s a choice to be made: either take your time and enjoy what you can while you relax and walk calmly through the city, or you need to prepare yourself for some serious planning of your day and quite some committed walking to get to see every main museum and attraction.
I chose the second option.
I arrived in Venice around 3pm so, by 4pm, the technicalities had been taken care of and I was ready to start discovering. The first thing I visited was a free entrance exhibition by Joseph Klibansky, Beautiful Tomorrow, in Palazzo Franchetti, that I discovered accidentally. Then I kept wandering and enjoying the scenery of Piazza San Marco and its surroundings until night came.
By then I started searching for some place to eat and I found a very charming restaurant called Ai Due Visconvi. I had a lovely, typically Italian, two course meal that I only regretted when the check came. The number it showed was as big as the receipt itself but at least the food was really good. After dinner I strolled alone a little more until I was too tired and went back to the hostel. By the way, taking a vaporetto at night is absolutely incredible.
My second day in Venice was the only whole day I spent there and I took the chance to be the typical tourist. I woke up early and caught the vaporetto number 2 to get to Piazza San Marco but I got out one stop before because of this intriguing church I saw on that island. It was the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore and, to my surprise, precisely in that deserted church, was Tintoretto’s Last Supper just casually hanging on the side of the altar. As an Arts student, being alone in that place with such an amazing work of art is unbelievable!
Eventually, when I came out, I continued my journey to Piazza San Marco and waited in line to visit the Palazzo Ducale. Since it was early in the morning, it didn’t take long to get in (for Venice standards). In about 15 minutes I bought my ticket that included all four museums of Piazza San Marco for just 12€.
In Palazzo Ducale, expect to be looking up at the ceiling almost every step of the way with your mouth open with amazement. The rooms are incredibly majestic and each one is even more elaborate and incredibly exuberant than the previous. Until you enter the absolute winner of all, the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, where Tintoretto’s Paradise (one of the largest paintings in the world) completely covers the eastern wall.
After Palazzo Ducale I visited the other three museums (Museo Correr, Museo Archeologico and Sale Monumentali Biblioteca Marciana) included in my ticket which are all in the same building in front of Basilica di San Marco.
The Basilica is free to visit, but if you want to go to the balcony with the horses and experience an amazing view of the Piazza, you’ll have to pay 5€. To be truthful the Basilica didn’t have much impact on me, I would willingly skip it and admire it only from the outside.
Next on my plans was the Accademia, but before getting there I made the terrible mistake of eating a slice of pizza in Piazza San Marco and the inevitable happened: a seagull stole it from me and it was so fast I didn’t even see it! So, if you’re eating, stay away from places with lot of birds or at least watch out! They are dangerous and hungry!
The ticket to the Gallerie dell’Accademia was the most expensive, 12€. In there I was able to enjoy the works of the Venetian School with Giorgione, Belini, Veronese, Tintoretto once again, and, outside this group, there was Visions of the Hereafter by Hieronymus Bosch.
Then, I wanted to see the Peggy Guggenheim Colection but it was closed on Tuesdays. So I strolled around some more, bought some postcards, visited some churches, did some vaporetto rides just for the scenery and, in the evening, I sat for a candle dinner outside in the Rialto area. I had some tasty gnocchi al pomodoro for the more reasonable price of 12€. This area is very alive in the night with many bars, music and joyful gatherings. This is the place to come if you want to socialise over a nice drink.
After exploring a little of the Rialto area I headed back to the hostel using the vaporetti.
The next day, my last one, my only goal was to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Colection. I arrived early and I didn’t have to wait to buy my 9€ ticket. In this museum my chin just dropped to the ground. I had never seen so many important and admired modern artists together in one place. There was Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Picasso, Marx Ernst, Man Ray, Balla, Magritte, Miró, Bernd and Hilda Brecher, and so many others! I had great expectations for this visit, but they were completely exceeded. I came out extraordinarily enriched and amazed.
For me, this was the perfect way to end this trip. I had an amazing time in Venice and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Even if there were a lot of tourists and a very commercialised side to Venice, my mind was elsewhere, enchanted by the views, the history and the works of art.