Venice – the burbs, the canals and the wine

The Plan

Colleen did her homework on this one (like all of our moves) and two options for our Venice stay were in play. The first choice was an affordable VRBO right in the heart of the old city, overlooking the canals and even close to some food markets. Great location, easy access from the train station, and in the heart of Venice!

After three days of trying to book it and being told by VRBO that our multiple credit cards had been declined, we finally gave up. Our credit card was no good?! We spent a bit of time on the phone with the card company who assured everything was good on our end. Rather the IT folks at VRBO could not capture the correct information on their booking platform.  We still had money – phew!

Plan B

We ended up going with our second choice, the Four Points by Sheraton Le Mestre. It was a brand new and modern hotel that seems to cater to business people. The breakfast spread was awesome. It was a short five minute walk to the train terminal and we were enroute to the Old City (19 minute train ride to the centre). They even upgraded us to sweet suite! Walking to the train, the kids remarked how it was like our own neighbourhood in Barrhaven. Mestre like Barrhaven? Does that mean Ottawa is the Venice of Canada?  Read on to find out …


The classic Venice scenery was started immediately outside the terminal of the train station. The hustle and bustle of the city was a complete pleasure to watch and immerse ourselves in.

Ponte degli Scalzi (The Scalzi Bridge)

Built in 1934 the name literally means the ‘bridge of the barefoot monks’. It faces the church of Santa Maria di Nazareth which belonged to the Carmelitani Scalzi religious order for three hundred years. The bridge crosses the Grand Canal linking the train station to the heart of the city.(source)

Our view as soon as we left the train station
At the top of the Scalzi Bridge
Hannah is in heaven – the dome in the background is the Chiesa di San Geremia
Enjoying the sites
Magnificent views everywhere you look
In Vietnam it was motorcycles, here in Venice it is gondolas …
The walk through the winding streets begins …

Canals, Canals, Canals

Along the canals
Every canal looks a little different
Hot or cool the day can’t make up its mind – but it is sunny
Houses with doors right on the water
Very tranquil area
Where did I park the Gondola?
Traffic jam – must be rush hour
Another quiet street (umm canal)
No cars – only boats to deliver groceries, mail, and construction materials. And medical rescue!
which way … which way to go …
It all looks the same … but different
One fancy gondola …

Churches, Squares and Pigeons

Ben in square
Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista di Venezia – One of the six grand schools built in 1261 housing some of the greatest works of Venetian art
Basilica dei Frari built in the 1330s – Houses the tomb of Titian
Pigeons in the square taking a bath
A brief stop in the Square
The Don of the Square – this seagull was strutting around bullying all the pigeons
Everyday life in Venice
From one bridge
More fancy gondolas
Always remember to look up
Gondola tie-up polls – or a lot of barber shops?

Time for Gelato?

In search of gelato …
Admiring the buildings along the waterfront
On the temporary bridge ….
A gang of gondolas … or is it a posse? The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore is in the distance
Base of the Victor Emmanuel II statue in Venice
Statue of King Victor Emmanuel II (first King of unified Italy).  See photo from Rome
Lion breaking bonds at the base of the Victor Emmanuel II statue
Hannah checking around the corner ..
Italian model at the waterfront. Cheese Dei Santi Cosma e Damiano in the distance
How do you get to the gondola when it is on the other side?
The Mermaid at the Punta della Dogana – part of Damien Hirst’s exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’
The family with San Marco square in the background
Walking along the Punta della Dogana (the old Sea Customs house and now a museum)
Still looking for gelato – the waves are crashing on to the promenade
Pause, taking a photo

The Doge’s Palace (source)

The Doge is a term for the oldest and highest political position in the Venetian Republic. The word means leader and comes from the Latin dux. Under the Byzantine Empire, Governors of provinces, which included Venice, were given the title Doge. The Palace, built in the 11th century, served as residence and offices of the Doge. The prison was added in the seventeenth century.

The Doge’s Palace and the Prison
The Prison and the Doge’s Palace
Double Bars on the Windows
The Bridge of Sighs – from the palace to the prison
Entering the canal and the bridge of Sighs
Bridge where everyone stops to get a photo of the bridge of Sighs
Ben and Hannah on the bridge
The upper floors of the Doge’s Palace
Beautiful mosaic
This is low season in the plaza and it is cold for non-Canadians. The Cologne di San Marco e San Todaro honouring the city’s patron saints
In front of the Basilica of San Marco (Saint Mark)
Church and Bell Tower in the plaza of San Marco
A lovely walk along shops in the Old Library of Saint Marco
Gelato anyone?
Another plaza shot

Basilica of Saint Mark (source)

The iconic church was established in 828 A.D. when the body of St Mark was brought from Alexandria to Venice. By the tenth century the mosaic work began and in the twelfth century works of art were brought from Constantinople following the 4th crusade.

Mosaic in front of the church
Mosaic of the risen Christ on the front of the Church
The Cologne di San Marco e San Todaro honouring the city’s patron saints
These two lions in red marble from 1722 are the reason for the name Piazzetta dei Leoncini
The winged lion is the symbol of St Mark
Walking through the church
Outside the Church
Iconic shot of the images of Venice
Inside the foyer of Basilica San Marco
Hannah enjoying the cool air and sunshine

Finally some Gelato

Three scoops
Heaven in a cone
I am a cup person

Lunch Time – Italian Style

We ate in two different restaurants the Trattoria da Gigi which was amazing and the Trattoria da Gianni which was meh!

Soup and Pasta and Red Wine
Ben has Spaghetti
Hannah has the 4 cheese gnocchi and some red wine
Our second day in Venice and lunch again – start with the Vino Tinto
Emma enjoys a little red wine
Eating in Italy was a pleasure as the kitchen staff wore shirts unlike Da Nang
I think this is the way – I remember that tower …
Nope … It is this way … Mom is always right ..
Ben poses for a photo
It must be this way ….
Ok .. This isn’t the way …
Success! We made it to the bridge
Everyone is wearing walking shoes and coats – What’s wrong with this picture? (PS Colleen took the photo)
Not quite ready to leave the canals
A moment of sisterly love caught on film
The Foster men take a photo – autographs are later



Next Stop – Savona and the Costa Cruise Ship

We spent three nights and two full days touring Venice. The sites were amazing and our only complaint was the lack of time to see everything. Unfortunately, we have timings to meet in order to meet the cruise ship in Savona.

We do highly recommend staying at the Four Points hotel in Mestre. It was significantly cheaper than anything in old Venice, close to a shopping mall with grocery store, and the train was only a five minute walk and quick ride to Grand Canal.

Venice is on our list to do a repeat visit! And sorry to break the news  but Ottawa is no Venice. Ciao!


4 Replies to “Venice – the burbs, the canals and the wine”

  1. Loved the photos. Keep them coming. I would like to go to Venice and four points sounds good. Just one question: How did it smell?

    There is never enough time! I think time speeds up when you are enjoying yourself and slow downs when you are not. Why is that?

    1. Hi Don,

      Venice was great! Didn’t notice a smell from the canals although the weather was a bit brisk, only a high of 20 degrees.

      In terms of time – you may need to ask the Dr.

  2. Curious, we are looking to go to Europe next summer. We have Italy and Greece on our list, but which did you prefer? Not sure we want to do both.

    1. Sorry Melissa for my very late reply.
      Greece or Italy? That’s a tough one.

      Hannah’s favourite city in the world is Athens. Her favourite country is Greece. She says this at 18 years old. She can’t put her finger on it either.
      Unless you have lots of time, I would do one country or the other. There are plenty of places to see in both to keep you busy for years. Likely I’d let current prices make the decision for me.

      One thing is for certain – we were happy to have a big chunk of time between the two countries because as a first time visitor they did seem similar. As it is, the two have blended together in our memories.

      We returned to Greece this last Christimas.

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