In early September this year, I was a mess.
After recently attending Dimensions Festival, a long weekend of dance, drink and sun stroke, I was burned out. Still, the opportunity to experience a fly-by visit of Venice on the way home was something I was never going to turn up. So, I travelled from Pula to Marco Polo airport and caught a boat-taxi to see if it was possible to see the Floating City in under 24 hours…
In the ghetto
Our Airbnb apartment was located in the Jewish Ghetto, a charming and peaceful area of Venice, free from the throng of tourists. The apartment was cosy, if extremely dark, the Venetian shutters on each window ensured a complete darkness. Perhaps we were just jumpy but later that night two of my friends woke up screaming thinking they were being attacked, and consequently started hitting each other in the dark. It was amusing after it stopped being terrifying. But I digress…
Breakfast is served
After dropping our bags off we headed off in the direction of the Rialto Bridge to find breakfast. Avoiding any restaurants with pictures of the food (note: excellent way to avoid pricey tourist traps) we stumbled across La Cantina. This authentic Italian taverna was the perfect place to duck in and relax. We ordered a distinctly un-Italian breakfast of antipasto platter of cheese and sliced meats and crusty bread paired which was simply delicious.
Note: To anyone looking to cross the Rialto Bridge in a hurry, forget it.
We learned our lesson the hard way, it is one of the most congested bridges I have ever been on, full of slow walking tourists, selfie sticks and generally the worst people. The Venetians tend to avoid these spots by sticking to the deserted alley ways, if this is possible, I recommend it.
After squeezing our way through the Rialto Bridge, we finally came to the beautiful open piazza, St Mark’s Square. Known as the ‘Drawing Room of Europe,’ this area is not to be missed, even with the high amount of tourists. In the square you have access to three of the most iconic buildings in Venice: the St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and The Torre dell’Orologio clock tower.
Painting a picture
The wonderful thing about Venice is that it’s a city notorious for producing artwork. Be it the insightful street art scattered across the city, to the many free and paid art galleries; you won’t be sort of artwork.
As the heat turned up, we ducked into a bar to quench our thirst. The cicchetti bar we found was called Osteria Al Squero. This quaint bar seemed to be a locals fave, and sold bite-sized tapas dishes called crostini as well as the ridiculously drinkable Venetian Aperol spritz. We spent an hour or more greedily snacking on the many different crostini, and sitting on the ledge outside the bar, watching the gondolas float by in the turquoise water.
All wrapped up
I was getting to the end of my fleeting visit, so we headed to the shops in search of some souvenirs. It may be touristy, it may be overdone, but getting a Venetian mask was still an excellent decision. Head further away from St. Marks square if you want a good deal, but either way there are an abundance of shops selling high quality chocolates, marzipan and intricate sculptures.
After less than 24 hours, I’d experienced the briefest of peeks into what a stay in Venice might entail, and I bloody loved it. In these colder months, the thought of relaxing by the Venetian lagoon with a drink in hand often fills my head. Can you visit Venice in under 24 hours? Yes, but only if you can handle the immediate infatuation followed by heart break as you sail away later that day. Venice, I’ll come back to you I promise.