Mike and I were in Venice over Christmas. The best way to describe Venice is beautifully melancholy. Venice can remember once being the most powerful city in the world, and knows how far it has fallen. Somehow though, that melancholy just adds to the beauty of the city. It is a photographer's dream - endless tiny streets and bridges and canals. It's like nothing else in the world.
Where to go
If you want to understand the power Venice once wielded this is the place to go - the palace of the Doge, who once ruled Venice. The receiving hall defies description, every surface is painted with astonishing frescoes and it is enormous. We walked through endless beautiful halls and even spied several secret passages (which naturally sent me into transports of delight). I didn't really take many photos because photos cannot capture it - you have to see it to understand it.
The history of Venice is one of sea faring, so of course it was incredibly interesting to check out the Maritime Museum. Mike gravitated to the weaponry and I drifted over to the letters and maps and paintings. It was really interesting - though Mike and I's attention flagged a bit around the turn of the 20th century.
Walking the backstreets
There is something around every corner of Venice, and a lot of the best bits are hidden away in little back streets. Aside from the Palazzo Ducale and the Maritime Museum Mike and I spent most of our three days walking through the streets - we crossed the Rialto Bridge, saw Piazza San Marco, we even stumbled on the Castello neighbourhood where most Venetians actually live these days.
It is a city of astounding beauty and the best thing you can do is to just walk. Plus it's strangely hard to get lost - we always ended up back at the ocean or the Grand Canal. One foggy night we went for a walk along the water and it felt like you were back in the 17th century, surrounded by the intrigue of the court with ladies in long dresses swishing past you on the arms of handsome gentlemen.
Where to eat?
Eating in Italy is a joy - Mike and I ate everywhere, from cheap cafes filled with older men having their lunch time pasta and wine to incredibly fancy restaurants. Aside from one slightly average pizza every meal - even the ones in the tourist areas - was delicious. The best thing I can recommend is to get out there, find the places near your hotel, order a spritz and just enjoy yourself.
This was our first meal in Italy and it was so memorable. We stumbled on it almost by chance, and actually went back on our last night as well because it was just that lovely. Let's start with the incredible wine list - wine varieties are very different in Europe compared to Australia (and possibly other places as well) so do not be afraid of asking for a recommendation - we did and we had the most beautiful bottle of red wine and for only 20 euros! When told the waitress that we were amazed that such a beautiful bottle would cost so little, she explained, as though this was the most obvious thing in the world, that the price of wine doesn't matter, the taste is independent of price. Suffice to say at that moment I fell in love with Italy. The food was beautiful - inventive but classic at the same time. Just thinking about it is making me sad because I would love to go there again.
Where to stay?
Hotel Al Codega is a fairly new hotel - and is styled as a boutique hotel with a nice little lounge for pre dinner drinks, breakfast in the morning and beautiful rooms. We had a lovely time staying there, they were so helpful and friendly. The only thing I will say is that because it's new, it felt like it hadn't quite relaxed into itself yet, the kind of service it wants to offer - but I think that will come with a bit more time and certainly didn't impact our stay. One thing I will say is they send you a map of the hotel location - you will absolutely need it - the hotel is down the most nondescript alley. You will never find it on your own. Also our rooms had shutters (as pictured) and it was probably my favourite part - opening those windows every morning.
Beth of Local Milk hosted a workshop in Venice and her photography is spectacular
Mimi & Alex Ikonn made a follow me around Venice video