Venice, Italy


From Bologna to Venezia

The landscape on the train is lovely, with many bright colored houses.

I would definitely stop and spend part of the day in Padova if my leg allowed for it, since my train stops there for a few minutes. Unfortunately I know it will ruin the rest of the day, so I stay on the train.

From the train, I can see the Foro Boario, an extremely weird building made of concrete and abandoned a few decades ago. It’s haunting and really catches my attention. We passe by it too fast, but a quick search on Kagi for « cement building abandoned Padova » gives me this blog post about Foro Boario which includes a history of the place and a few interesting photos. I don’t feel like this is Brutalist architecture (too many angles) but also all cement screams Brutalist at me, so I’ll let people who actually know something about architecture give me more info. The comments section is open, dear readers!

The train arrives to Venezia St. Lucia station through a narrow bridge and it really is gorgeous. Highly recommend this beautiful way of arriving – and really, between the gorgeous landscapes of the train rides and this short but sweet experience, I’ve had a deep feeling of « I never want to take a plane again ». (That would make my next work trip to San Francisco, or even to Dublin, very interesting, and by interesting I mean I’d probably get fired. Tant pis.)

Venice laguna when coming by train, with the tracks close to me and buildings far away on the shore.

Arriving from the train station is gorgeous. The second I step out of the train station, I get greeted by a gorgeous view (and a huge crowd). Here’s a view from the bridge next to the station:

View from the bridge above the water. There are several boats, including a classic gondola, a barge on the right that serves as a bus-boat stop and a church on the left.

I don’t know how to feel about this city, really. It’s gorgeous, but it’s also fairly repetitive: beautiful canal, small street, beautiful church, identical canal, small street, identical church.

I keep walking, because I’m not very smart and my knee isn’t yelling at me just yet.

A sunny canal bordered with buildings and boats.

The main question I ask myself is: is this city overrated?

Not overrated: it’s truly gorgeous.
Overrated: there are so many tourists (and yes, I’m aware that I’m one of them). Everything is so expensive – we’re talking 10 euro bus tickets here. There are so many hustlers and no, the gondolas are probably not romantic when everyone stares at you.

I expected to be disappointed and actually didn’t even plan to go through Venice in my original travel plans. In the end, I spent a day in Venice and removed a day from Trieste because I had a train change there anyway, so might as well.

I don’t regret it, because I never liked the idea of never having visited Venice, but I don’t think I want to go back.

But first: I end the day at a really fancy restaurant, Trattoria Antico Calice, where I pay a lot but also get very good food, so no regrets.

A big plate of fancy seafood.


From Torino to Bologna

Steps: 10 061
E-Bike: a couple of kilometres
Train: 2h04, express

Day in Bologna

Steps: 6 578
E-Bike: 12km
Pillow: good
Bed: bad

From Bologna to Venezia

Steps: 13 145 (rest day, they said…)
Train: 2h10, regional, for a total of 703km

A day in Venezia

I wake up and my knee has me yelping before I make it to the bathroom. It’s going to be a bad day.

Yesterday, my partner convinced me to get a museum pass and enjoy specific places rather than just walk around the city and never spend time anywhere. I’m even more thankful now that it seems I won’t be able to do my walking tour. I’m glad I got some done yesterday, including piazza San Marco, meaning that cancelling today won’t make me miss too many of the most well-known spots.

A giant tower made of brick. It's really really tall. Also the sky is very blue.

I stay in bed for another hour after my first attempt, then get up cautiously. This time, no complaints from the knee. I’m ready to go!

As I stroll through the streets of Venice at 9am, I realize that I should have gotten up earlier. Venice is extremely calm right now, people start emerging at 10am, and the city is really gorgeous when it’s still mostly asleep. (The fact that I steer clear of the most popular sites probably also helps.)

On a sunny day, green-ish water in the canals of Venice, bordered with yellow and orange tinted buildings.

One thought as I’m walking around: shop signs only in English give me anxiety. That works everywhere, and I remember being just as spooked when I used to go to Amsterdam. You’re in a country that doesn’t speak English – at least pretend you’re also talking to the locals?

This makes me thankful for the intense, but important, laws to preserve the French language in France and in Québec.

Anyway: museum time!

Ca’ Rezzonico

This is the first of the three Settecento (18th century) museums I visit, simply because it’s closest to the hotel.

I am given a bulky ipad when i ask for an audioguide. It’s worth it: it’s a high quality guide where you can select what you’re looking at, rather than inputting numbers, and that doubles as a map of the exhibition.

A very ornate chandelier hanging from a very ornate ceiling in an old-style palace.

The palace is beautiful, and I get back into the old habit of looking at the ceiling every time I enter a room.

I also get a bit of historical context: palazzos in Venice have two entrances, the regular one on the street and the one that guests used, which is the Water entrance (as in, people would take their gondola to the door and step onto the quay). Once you pass this water door, you end up in a giant corridor, which goes the entire length of the building, cutting it in half and with no ceiling at all. The sides are where you stay.

House of Carlo Goldoni

When I get out of the building, I realize my knee somehow doesn’t hurt at all. I still force myself to sit down for a lunch break (not great) and then make my way to the second museum, which is actually the birth house of Carlo Goldoni, a man I had never heard of. The house is not really a museum, it’s just a couple of themed rooms showing how puppets were made in Goldoni’s time. I consider it a nice bonus to the two main museums in the ticket (also, it’s right in the middle of the journey between them, so no time lost).

Mocenigo museum

Mocenigo museum is a museum of textiles and perfumes, and it’s wonderful. Its first few rooms recreate an 18th century noble house, complete with mannequins wearing real clothes from that time and with real furniture.

A couple of mannequins, dressed as Venetian nobles from the 18th century. The walls are very red and there's an old-school family tree on one wall.

The place also includes a perfume museum not unlike the ones I’ve visited in Grasse (it does tell us that the Grasse perfume makers stole their work from Venetian ones), and a small textiles collection with Settecento clothes but also a small collection of modern high couture dresses by Alberta Ferretti. If I understand well, she made this collection inspired from the museum and in partnership with it. (I’m not 100% sure, because I decided to only read the Italian signs, which is fun, instructive, and not very efficient.)

bus bus bus

I’m mostly done with the day by now, and have visited all three museums and walked around. Time to activate my day pass for the bus and enjoy the ride!

(The bus is a boat, obviously.)

And so my second adventure of the day begins: at the front of a boat, going from one terminus to the other just to see what it looks like.

Which brings me to a thought I already had when walking around: everything is this city seems to be under construction. Everything! While it makes for a fun photo of cement trucks on a barge, I feel sorry for the people who live here, before remembering that nobody can afford to live here anyway.

Construction trucks on a boat, repairing a church.

The views from Bus 2 are beautiful and I can sit at the front of the boat, which allows me to snap a few pictures while I float around.

A view of the Venice shore, including yellow and orange buildings and a church belltower. I'm on a boat, so the front of the boat is visible right in front of me.

My original notes (I write my recaps on the train, but take quick notes as I go) are the following:

bus bus bus
Osteria Al Volto: chomp (cheap)
bus bus bus

Which sums up perfectly my vibe as the sun slowly starts to go down.

A beautiful covered bridge and white buildings bordering a big canal. The sun is setting.

When I come back to the hotel, I blissfully crash down and sleep for nine hours.

Steps: 15 662
Boat: not tracked, but probably around 90mins total

My morning in Venice

My train is at 10.40am, so today, I don’t have much to do:

  • get up
  • have a delicious breakfast (hotel La Serenissima smells of mildew but the breakfast is great and the bed is very comfy, so I’ll still recommend it for a short stay)
  • realize how desperately I need to do laundry tomorrow
  • get the bus (whee! boat!) to the train station
  • write postcards that I’ll send when I’m back home
  • jump on the train
  • write this blog post before napping.

Seems like I’m done with that last step, actually – so see you soon!

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