Venice

A few weeks ago my mom and little sister Lindsey came out to Italy for Lindsey's fall break. I met them in Milan Thursday night for dinner and showed them a little bit of the city. We went to Eataly, one of our favorite spots back in NYC for dinner and Bruce Springsteen ended up being there for a little concert, so that was a nice surprise. After dinner, we went to the Duomo and the Galleria, and we grabbed some gelato at Venchi. The next morning, we took the train to Venice. Venice might be my favorite city in all of Italy. It was so magical and felt like fairy tale the whole weekend. Every street was so charming. Each square had a church, and each bridge was unique.

The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Splendid Hotel, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

When we got off the train in Venice, we took a little water taxi to our hotel. The ride was the perfect welcome to Venice because we got a little tour of the city. After checking into our hotel, we went on a walk over the Rialto Bridge to the Rialto Market and on to the Basilica Dei Frari.  

Oldest Facade in Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

This is the San Giacomo di Rialto, the oldest church in Venice. It's in the Rialto Square and has survived many fires throughout the years. It also has a 24 hour clock with only one hand, which we saw a few of throughout Venice. 

Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

Walking through the small streets of Venice was my favorite part of the weekend. Everywhere you look there was another adorable door or canal that looked like it could be a painting.

Canals of Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Basilica Dei Frari, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

Our walk ended at the Basilica Dei Frari. It seemed so big for Venice and was very pretty from the outside. We were too tired to wait in line to go in, so we took a different route back to the hotel before dinner. The area around the basilica had the cutest little squares that made the walk back enjoyable.  

Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Graffiti in Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Gelato in Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

We got dinner at a restaurant near the hotel which they recommended and then of course had to go get some gelato. (How cute is Lu?) My mom and Lu's jet lag was starting to set in a little so after gelato we went back to the hotel and went to bed. 

Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

The next morning we got up pretty early, grabbed some cappuccinos and breakfast at the hotel, and then headed to San Marco Square to meet up with a tour guide. Our tour guide was the cutest Venetian woman.

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

Our tour guide said that the day we were in Venice was the first day of fall there, because the fog had rolled in. We went back to the square later that day after the fog had cleared up a bit, and we could see two beautiful churches on islands near by. She took us through the Doge's Palace, Saint Mark's Basilica and to the glass blowing factory. 

Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

This is one of the many ceilings in the Doge's Palace that is covered in 24k gold. Its the Golden Staircase that leads to the Doge's private apartment.  

Doge's Palace Courtyard, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Doge's Palace Staircase, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

The courtyard of the Palace was beautiful. It is connected to Saint Mark's Basilica by a private entrance because it used to be the Doge's private chapel. It also is home to the Giant's Staircase, an entrance guarded by Mars and Neptune, to signify Venice's strength by land and sea.  

Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

The Doge's Palace is connected to the prison by the over romanticized Bridge of Sighs. Prisoners would have to walk through the bridge to the prison after their hearing. The prisoners got their last view of the outside world until the end of their sentence through the small holes in the bridge. 

View form the Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

The exterior of the Doge's Palace is filled with so much detail on every side. I love the pattern in the bricks and arches on the side by the water the most. 

Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

I know in my last post I said that the Sagrada Familia was the most beautiful cathedral, I had been in, but St. Mark's Basciallica might win. I mean just look at at the exterior, can you imagine this being your neighborhood church??

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy Samantha McNeil
Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

 You aren't allowed to take pictures inside, but I was able to get a few on my phone. The entire ceiling is covered in gold mosaic tile. Our tour guide told us that the mosaics took two types of artisans to create. One artisan to draw the pattern on the ceiling and walls and then one to follow to match the colors of the drawing with the glass. She also said that for every tile in and outside of the Basilica, the gold was created by first sticking a clear tile (1cm x 1cm) with special fish glue and then 24k gold leaf and then another tile. They ceiling also tells the story of the New Testament since many people that attend the church when it first opened could not read.  

Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil
San Marco Square, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

Just outside of the Basilica is the Torre dell'Orologio, another beautiful 24 hour clock with only one hand, but this one has a "digital" clock that shows the hour and minutes in increments of 5. After leaving San Marco Square, we went on to tour a glass blowing factory and grab some lunch at Rosso Pomodoro (owned by Eataly, and the best pizza I've had so far here in Italy). 

Gondola Ride, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil Blog

After lunch, we took a gondola ride around the city. It's so fun to see the city from the water going under every bridge and seeing all the small little streets from a different perspective. 

View from the Bell Tower, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

On our final day in Venice, we headed back over to San Marco Square, hoping there would be less fog, so that we could go up the bell tower and see the whole city. There was less fog than the day before, but still some fog. It was incredible to see the entire collection of islands from above. 

View from the Bell Tower, San Marco's Square, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

After the Bell Tower we headed down grabbed some cappuccinos and headed back to the train station. I went back to school and my mom and Lu went down to Florence and Tuscany for the week. It was hard to leave such a beautiful city knowing I had homework and laundry waiting for me in Castellanza.

Splendid Hotel, Venice, Italy, Samantha McNeil

Hope everyone had a good week! I'm off to Lake Garda and Verona this weekend! Then to Paris and Brussels in November, I couldn't be more excited! If you have any recommendations on where to eat and what to see let me know in the comments below!

Ciao!

Samantha