“If you love someone, Venice will multiply that love” – Harry Cipriani, owner of Harry’s Bar.
I will begin at the end of our trip to Venice, while my memory is still fresh.
It is getting late, almost 11.00pm, when we decide to indulge in a Gondola ride. The heaving mass of day trippers that descend on these tiny islands have departed by Vaporetto or the train for the mainland.
Waiters are packing up tables and chairs, open signs are being turned to closed. Other doors open and let music and laughter spill out of bars echoing around the canals as the patrons settle in to drink, talk and flirt for the night.
Our Gondolier deftly manoeuvres his boat through the dark setting his passengers gracefully at the pier. He is wearing the traditional navy blue and white sailor shirt, black pants and white sneakers, he has dispensed with his hat for the night.
He smiles a weary smile and says “of course” when we ask if we can take a tour of the canals.
It is a warm, clear night as he glides his boat gracefully out into the Grand Canal. The stars and lights are twinkling in the ripples of the water beneath us.
He silently paddles through the ink black water to the Rialto bridge, the Carerra marble is shining brightly under the glare of the spotlights from the street.
He urges us to kiss as we pass under the bridge, after all Venice is a city for lovers and bridges are for kissing under.
The canal water stills as the wind drops and a half moon shines in its mirror. Venice rises before us dancing in its reflection.
Palaces appear, silent sentinels, whispering memories of the past as we slip between them and disappear into a side canal. Echoes of voices surround us as we glide reverently through history and time.
Silent shadows move about in the alleyways as the stars continue to twinkle in the water below. Footsteps echo closer as the sky and water meld, we are lost in a velvet dream noir of shadow and light. Music floats about in the distance bouncing around the walls; Verdi, Vivaldi, rock, and pop.
Lovers steal kisses on bridges, couples cuddle under arches and whispers of undying love are promised in hidden corners.
Mr 77 holds my hand, we smile and kiss. Our gondolier steers us through the ink-black water as I look up and search the night sky for Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Orian and other ancient constellations.
Venice at midnight is mysterious and magical. History seeps through the shadows as ghosts haunt dark corners and time stops and like a dream, the present and the past collide. The moonbeams steal across the water and the night is full of the endless possibilities of love.
Gondola Tips – A gondola can be expensive. The city rate starts at 100 euros for 40 minutes, a price that is set by the city and can be difficult to bargain down. But if it’s early or late you can often negotiate a deal.
Don’t fret too much at the price, it is a once in a lifetime experience for most and it helps to remember that a gondola is expensive to make and can set a gondolier back 20,000 euros or more for a hand-built version.
If you are travelling with others you can have up to 6 people in a Gondola and it makes it cheaper if you share!
How to get there
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region in northern Italy. It is a magical town made up of over 100 small islands connected by 400 bridges. Around 264,579 people call the region home. As one of the most beautiful towns in the world it is also one of the most visited, make sure you stay in Venice itself so you can walk and get lost in the magic of the streets in the early or wee hours.
Plane – The Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) services the city of Venice, and welcomes flights from all over the world. Airline carriers that fly routes to this city include Alitalia, British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
The airport has a few cafes as well as currency exchange services, WiFi and ATMs.
Check out Skyscanner for great deals on flights.
Train – There are many intercity trains to Venice. Venice Santa Lucia is the main station in Venice, it is located on the banks of the Grand Canal, and is about a 30-minute walk to the major sites.
The Man in Seat 61 has the latest timetables, tips and train information in Italy.
Where to Stay
There are so many hotels to choose from in Venice it is hard to pick one.
Mr 77 and I have stayed twice at a lovely 1-star hotel called Hotel Al Vagon. The staff are welcoming and friendly and it is located only a 5-minute walk from the Rialto bridge in Cannaregio. Budget friendly, the rooms are decorated in Venetian decor, they are clean and tidy, our large double room had a comfy bed and lots of space and storage for our bags. It is a great little hotel.
We had a little balcony where we could watch life unfold on the canal and there were loads of cafes, restaurants and shops nearby and the major sites were all within walking distance too. The only downside is the upper floor where we stayed must be reached by a lot of stairs!
If you are travelling with your pooch, it is pet-friendly too.
For a full list and reviews of the accommodation options in Venice, click on the links below:
Where to Eat
There are so many wonderful bars and places to eat, follow the crowds or check out a number of places to eat below.
Books set in Venice
There are over 200 novels set in Venice. Here are a few of my favourites !