18 January 2014

A different side to Venice

The other side of the Canal

We were lucky enough to spend the first and second nights of our honeymoon in Venice. Having never been there before, I was delighted to discover that it was every bit the romantic and magical city I hoped it would be.

However, it is hectic. Very, very hectic.

The view from our bathroom at Hotel Dalla Mora
There are street sellers on every corner flogging all manner of tat. From fake Gucci bags and purses to toys that shoot up in the air or splat on the floor. Add to that the hoards of tourists streaming around the narrow streets and bridges, stopping to take photos and videos of all the things you want to stop and take photos of.

That's why we were so glad we were staying in a quieter area of Venice.

We'd read that the Santa Croce region was quieter with more of a residential, local feel than the really touristy area San Marco.

Yes, there are still stalls selling One Direction t-shirts and Venetian masks, but there is a quiet calm to the canals which is lovely to enjoy. When you turn the corner into Santa Croce, it's like the world stops a bit, the noise disappears and you can breathe.

Reverse of Hotel Dalla Mora
The hotels tend to be a bit cheaper too. We opted for Hotel Dalla Mora which is just a five minute walk from the main bus terminal and car park area, Piazzale Roma. The hotel is pretty basic. Well, very basic. But it is right on one of the canals and our ground floor room literally faced onto the water so we could watch the gondolas floating past. Plus we got our own bathroom which is bit of a luxury in Venice.

We had a couple of really nice meals in the Santa Croce area too.

Venice is a bit renowned for ripping tourists off in restaurants. With over inflated prices, poor quality food and often short changing diners. So we made sure we did our research first. 

The quiet water ways of Santa Croce
On our first night, we ate at the Trattoria Alla Ferrata which we picked because it had an outside, walled garden area. I had a delicious clam and mussel starter, followed by a perfectly cooked beef Tagliata (which is sliced beef steak cooked on an open fire, served with rocket and balsamic vinegar), all polished off with a really good bottle of Chianti.

We also had a nice meal at Ostaria al Vecio Pozza. Their menu boasts 100 different types of pizza and it was pretty good too. Shame the waiter was so grumpy, but this is quite common in Northern Italy.

If you're staying in Santa Croce and want to take a gondola ride, you can do this from just outside the Piazzale Roma, however, they are unlikely to take you as far as San Marco square. 

We found the walk from Santa Croce to San Marco a pretty comfortable one and gave us a chance to wander through the streets, see the Grand Canal and Palazzo Ducale and cross all the bridges covered in padlocks where lovers have padlocked their love like the Ponte de Rialto, the Scalzi Bridge and the Ponte Dell'Accademia.

Taking a gondola ride from Piazzale Roma
And then, when you've done with the sight-seeing, leave it all behind and return to the calm of Santa Croce.

We drove to Venice from Bologna which took a couple of hours. We chose to park at the airport as parking can be expensive in Venice. The Marco Polo 2002 car park has 24 hour security guards and provide a free shuttle to the airport terminal for around 12 Euro a day. The bus into Venice (the ATVO) then costs around 5 Euro per person to Piazzale Roma.

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