For the love of Gondolas

Woken with a slight headache, nothing that couldn’t be fixed with lots of rehydrating and breakfast – still picking the sultanas out of the muesli by the way. Life is pretty magical right now, seated in the quaint courtyard that is situated in the laneway outside our hotel.

Quick research online for the walking tour and we make a dash to the other side of the island to meet at San Germano, the locals suggest it’s a long walk but we’ve discovered the European “looong walks” are fairly short compared to the Aussies. So we take off with 15 mins to spare before the tour commences.

Sure enough we get lost (bloody hard not too in these laneways) and I mean really lost, those rabbit warrens are pretty hard to navigate, all of a sudden we are way out west (where the rain don’t fall) when we thought we were East.

Getting lost really added to the fun of Venice though and I recommend you should do this. As it goes we missed the walking tour by about half an hour, we probably would have made it if we didn’t get lost, as the meeting point wasn’t all that far from our hotel!!

On our way back we stop at Bar Pasticceria Ballarin so Anton can get a coffee. He is such a coffee snob and has said that Melbourne do coffee very well compared to the parts of Western Europe we’ve travelled. He felt right at home in Italy though; it’s as if he is pouring his own drop from the macchinetta at home.

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I sink another spritz and can’t resist the slabs of nougat that fill the place.

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For 9€ we buy a piece of vanilla nougat and I am over the moon with this big chunk of calories. Think of being at a birthday party as a kid and your favourite cake is shared around and the biggest piece stops at you. I bet you are secretly doing flips right in excitement right? Well that’s me right now.

I get the biggest piece of fluffy white almond and pistachio nougat that I have ever seen. Dying right now! The small ethnic shops of Melbourne’s northern suburbs know how to nail a good nougat but this slice of heaven takes the cake #literally.

It’s time to conquer our own walking tour, the city map has a list of all the major sites and our first stop is San Marco, we look through the church and take the internal concrete stairs to the top of the viewing area, it’s not that high up (thank goodness) but it’s high enough to get a great view over the square.

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I read a few forums about the gondolas and took the advice of going to San Paolo square to set sail as it is a really quite area.

Many of the main canals are very busy and overcrowded with gondolas so we were happy to escape this; our ride was so peaceful.

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The serenity is really something special not a peep of noise as we glided around the waterways, adoring the worn homes with open window shutters and pot plants that hung over the water. There is an abundance of character in one tiny island, such a beautiful moment for us to remember forever.

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All romanced up we went on to our meeting spot to catch up with our buddies for dinner. It’s exciting to hang out with new friends in a new city.

We meet at the same restaurant we were at last night with plans to venture off and find somewhere else, we walk around Venice exchanging stories of our day and find a neat and busy (popular restaurant busy not tourist trap busy) eatery by the back canals off the San Marco square.

It’s an evening with lots of food; these guys appreciate food just as much as we do so the table is full of pizza, pasta, seafood and insalata. We are in no rush to move on but once our food has digested we weave our way through the laneways window shopping in the dark to find the gelato shop Ali recommends.

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He was pretty bang on with this find. Wow this gelato is incredible- the Opera flavour is to die for and has more Nutella through it than ice cream, I thought things couldn’t get better than Messina but this has seriously put that place to shame. Isn’t Nutella the absolute best thing ever created?

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Hugs and kisses all round as we said our goodbyes until we catch up again in Melbourne. We wondered off to bed to be up early for the drive back West side to the Cinque Terre tomorrow. So long Venice… X

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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