Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Venetian Birthday

I've now celebrated six birthdays since moving to Milan, and three of them have been away from the city. This year I decided that I'd hit my late twenties in one of my absolute favourite places - Venice.

I absolutely adore Venice. This was the fifth time I'd been to the lagoon itself since my first visit at the end of 2009. I always say that it's bonkers in the most wonderful way, there's nothing quite like it! Luckily it's easy to reach from Milan, taking around 2 and a half hours on the train. The day before my birthday we got on the Frecciabianca and arrived in Venice at lunchtime.

This time I stayed in the city for two nights, at a lovely guesthouse called Locanda Herion in the Canaregio sestriere (just off Strada Nova). The rules are quite strict regarding eating food in the rooms (you can't. Drink too), and washing towels and sheets costs extra, but the room itself was great value and the location was perfect. Andrea the owner (for some reason or other I've met more Andreas over the last week than I normally do in about a month) is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Venice, and very welcoming.

After we had lunch on the first day (at a pretty trattoria/pizzeria near the locanda called Le Campane) we headed over to the Rialto bridge - the view's always worth it! There are also some pretty shops and stalls on and around the bridge, so there's plenty to see. We then went for a long walk around the city for the rest of the afternoon. That's one of the things I like about Venice the most, it's an island so you can't get really lost!

I had a wonderful day on my birthday itself. The highlight was the climb to the top of St. Mark's Campanile - the bell tower. I'd done it once before but it took my breath away again. We were lucky to have a clear, sunny day, so we could see for miles around! Lunch was at a bar called AngiĆ², in the Castello sestriere, to the east of St. Mark's Square. We had a musical waiter called Andrea (see, another one!), and a lovely view out on the water where we could watch the boats and ferries go by. I had a very un-Italian but very delicious burger!

Breakfast wasn't included in the hotel, so for our two mornings there we had to venture out to get some coffee. The first bar we found was a lot less touristy than your average, and the second one just down the street was modern and completely different. Even though it was more like a coffee shop you'd get back in the UK I had one of the best brioches I'd ever tasted!

One thing I'd never noticed in Venice before was the amount of bag shops that there are. I don't know if things have changed in the last couple of years (my last two visits before this week were specifically for Carnival and the streets were packed!) but they were everywhere! Leather bags of all shapes and sizes. I bought a gorgeous little leather satchel with some of my birthday money. There are also loads of shops selling Murano glass, as you would imagine. And they make everything out of it! From pendants, to earrings, to little Christmas trees, to clocks... I bought some beads myself as I love making jewellery. And obviously there are masks, masks everywhere.

Every time I leave it always feels like I leave a part of my heart behind. Yes, it may be full of tourists with everything catering for them, but it's beautiful. The architecture, the colours of the masks and the glass, the water... Everything. I can't wait to go back!


rinaz said...

A happy belated birthday to you, Nerys :-)

Jenny P said...

Lovely photos and a perfect weekend. Thank you for the inspiration. We have been delaying a trip to Venice due to the wet, cold weather, but after reading your post I think we'll have to go, SOON! Would you recommend the place you stayed?

Nerys said...


Nerys said...

Definitely! It's just a shame breakfast is 7.50 extra each! said...

Happy belated birthday! Venice really is a marvel. I experienced its charme in a sunny February and crave to go there again. I was surprised how quiet this city can be.

Nerys said...

Thanks! Isn't it just beautiful??