Monday, 11 May 2015

Venice & Verona

The hubby and I took a very luxurious and romantic break to Venice, Italy. We booked direct flights from London Gatwick to Venice with Easyjet and then took a water taxi from the airport to our accommodation of choice, The Hilton Molino Stucky.

The hotel was beautiful and situated on the water front in a peaceful part of town. The hotel is clean with a large refreshing lobby and the rooms are spacious for Europe. Request a corner room as you get extra windows and light! The bathrooms are also modern here with all the usual's such as robes and slippers. Breakfast is excellent with every continental and cooked choice you could wish for with unlimited Prosecco and take away coffee. There is also a small rooftop pool with amazing views and a lovely bar and restaurant where we had lunch on the first day.

The hotel is on a separate island to the main tourist areas so you will need to take the free hotel shuttle across. There are around forty seats on each boat so make sure you arrive early to get in the queue as boats only leave every 30 mins. That said, it's always nice to be on the water and I liked the hotel because it was away from the main hustle and bustle of central Venice so I didn't feel hindered by being on a different island.

On our first day after lunch and a drink at the Sky Bar in our hotel we took the shuttle to St Mark's Square. We had a little wander around the square and took the lift ride to the top of The Campanile for some fantastic if not crowded and a little squashed views of the city. We then took a gondola ride. I know this is touristy and some what tacky but when in Venice and all! We managed to bump into a group of three women in the queue who were happy to split the 80 EUR for 40 mins price between all five us meaning the trip wasn't as expensive as it could have been. We really enjoyed the kitsch ride and would thoroughly recommend it. Next stop was back to St Mark's for a very overpriced coffee and ice cream in the sunshine whilst listening to the Orchestra at the famous Caffe Florian. I wouldn't recommend more than a drink as it is pricey but it's a lovely experience none the less.

That evening it was a romantic dinner for two at Lineadombra. What a beautiful restaurant. It's set on a veranda situated in the water with gorgeous views and amazing sunsets. Book early and ask for a table right on the waters edge for uninterrupted views. The waiters here are friendly and helpful and the menu is a delight. They specialize in fish and will bring the catch of the day around on big boards to make your selection and to be whipped up by the chef how you choose. This is definitely a treat restaurant but you cannot beat it for elegance and romance.

On our second day in Venice we decided to head out to the nearby city of Verona. We took the train from Venezia S Lucia to Verona Porta Nuov, which takes a little over 1 hr and then we walked down to Verona town center. We took a private walking tour through Juliet & Co and we had a lovely friendly guide who showed us all of the main sites. We held Juliet's breast for good luck and we wrote our names on the wall at her house! We saw the famous balcony too! Next up was an Al Fresco lunch in the main square before heading back to Venice. We are really glad we detoured to Verona as it's a beautiful city and well worth a day trip!

In the evening we took a Ghost Tour starting at the Rialto Bridge. It wasn't very scary and was in places a bit silly but we did learn quite a bit about Venice and all in all thought it was worthwhile. We then headed to the pizza take away Antico Forno for a very cheap dinner. The pizza slices here are amazing and we took our haul over to the canal and sat on the pavement eating our dinner with insane views!

For our final day in Venice we pre-booked the Secret Itineraries Tour at the Doge Palace. It was 1 hr 15 mins long and was excellent. We got to queue jump, which is a real bonus and then learnt all about this famous Palace. Afterwards we were given free time to wander the prison and walk over the Bridge of Sigh's. We then finished our cultural journey with a trip to St Mark's Basilica. You can pre book for a couple of EUR online, which we did and is well worth it as you can queue jump. Believe me, the queues here are absolutely insane so it's well worth taking advantage of this. After one more slice of pizza from our fav Antico Forno it was time to head home.

We took another water taxi from the Hilton to the airport. There are water buses available in Venice and also shared taxi options through the hotel. The water taxi's are incredibly expensive but very luxurious. You do feel as though you are in a James Bond movie and you can't quite beat zipping around the canals with the wind in your hair and the sun shining down.

We had an incredible time in Venice, everything we did was excellent and we cannot wait to come back for another visit. There is so much more to see and do here, I don't think you could ever get bored. The city looks exactly like the pictures and didn't disappoint us in any way!