Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

My mother passed away on May 17th after a serious illness. On May 25th would have been her 62nd birthday, which she would have celebrated in Venice as it was her tradition. To honor her memory and to feel close to her once again, I went with my whole family to the Italian city of bridges over the weekend. Since we went there on Friday and back again on Sunday, we basically only had one day on site: May 25th.

Read here what we have seen and what you shouldn’t miss on a day in Venice:

Venice – From Serenissima to Mass Tourism

Until 1797, Venice was the capital of the Republic of Venice and until the 16th century even one of the largest trading powers in the world. Venice had the most merchant ships, but also warships, and was thus able to maintain its supremacy over the centuries. The city was incredibly rich, which is why we can still admire immeasurable cultural treasures in the lagoon city.

During this period Venice also received the title of La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco (the most Serene Republic of Saint Mark). The title was initially given to the Doge – the ruler of Venice – and the nobles. After some time, however, it was extended to the entire republic.

Venice was incorporated into Italy in 1866 and has been the capital of the Italian province of Veneto ever since. It lies in the northeast of the country in the lagoon of Venice. Within this lagoon, there are 118 islands, of which only 11 are inhabited. The main island with the old town has 63,000 inhabitants, by far the highest number of all islands. Since 1987, both the city and the lagoon have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Today, Venice is more popular with tourists than ever before. Venice is on the bucket lists of travelers from all over the world and is also increasingly part of the itineraries of cruise ships. The new task is to master the balancing act between beauty and mass tourism.

 

Venice – How to Get There

  • By Plane: Venice has two airports. The city airport is called Marco Polo (the code is VCE) and is one of the busiest airports in Italy. The second one is about 40 kilometers away and is located near the city of Treviso (it has the code TSF).
  • By Train: Especially within Italy, traveling by train is cheap and fast. Venice’s train station is located at a vaporetto station, so you can get on a water bus directly if your accommodation is too far to walk to or if you want to start sightseeing immediately.
  • By Bus: Venice is easy to reach by bus and very well connected to other cities in Italy and all over Europe. I haven’t taken the bus to Venice yet, but I changed busses there already. I always use Flixbus.
  • By Car: This may seem strange at first, but since my parents came by car every single time, I want to add this possibility, too. If you drive over the Brenner Autobahn, you pay about 30 Euro motorway toll to Venice. From Mestre (one of two districts on Venice’s mainland) you drive over a bridge to the island of Tronchetto, where parking garages are waiting for the motorized visitors. These cost from 30 euros per day and you should reserve in advance. A pedestrian bridge will take you to the main island and you can either walk to your hotel or take a vaporetto – a water bus.

Venice – Sights

Since I only spent one day in Venice this time, my tips are focused on a day or weekend excursion with arrival on Friday and departure on Sunday.

The main island is the most touristic part of the city. There you will find famous sights like St. Mark’s Cathedral at St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace next to it, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs Ponte dei Sospiri. Be prepared that all these sights are crowded during the day.

 

St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Tower

Since you will hardly go to Venice and then skip St. Mark’s Cathedral, you will have to live with the crowd. If you want to avoid it, I have a tip for you though: If you, like me, go to St Mark’s Square at sunrise, you will basically have it almost to yourself!

By the way, the tower is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Cathedral and is therefore also called St. Mark’s Tower. With 98 meters, it’s the highest building in Venice. Its top originally served as a lighthouse so that the ships could find their way safely to the lagoon’s harbor. In 1902 the tower collapsed after several earthquakes, but this was due to the fact that metal struts had been removed on the inside in order to build an elevator. The reconstruction, which used the original pile foundations that were 1000 years old but very well preserved, took nine years. The new tower was inaugurated on St Mark’s Day, on April 25th of 1913. Today, it is possible to go up to the bell tower via an elevator. But also this is still on my bucket list…

 

The Doge’s Palace

As already mentioned at the beginning, the ruler of the Republic of Venice was called Doge. The word is derived from the Latin word dux (leader). The first Doge was elected in 726. The Doge’s Palace next to St. Mark’s Basilica was the seat of government from the 9th century onwards and is still today a sign of the wealth, size and power of the lagoon city. This can be seen not only from the outside in the outstanding Venetian architecture but also in the stucco, gilded carvings and magnificent paintings inside. It is one of the most important Gothic secular buildings.

I must confess though, I’ve never been inside of the palace. Maybe I’ll change that during my next visit to the Serenissima.

 

The Bridge of Sighs

Also the Ponte dei Sospiri – the Bridge of Sighs – has a completely different effect in the early morning hours. The water lies smooth instead of being stirred up by gondolas that always glide past. If you’re there at 6am, you can even let your thoughts wander for a moment to the prisoners who long ago walked over the Bridge of Sighs and had a last look at the lagoon before they went to prison for the rest of their lives.

During the day, there is always a traffic jam of gondolas here since they start their tours through the small winding canals just around the corner.

 

The Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is one of only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal that separates the six districts called Sestieri: San Marco, Cannaregio, and Castello are on one side and Dorsoduro, San Polo, and Santa Croce on the other.

It’s so peaceful to sit at the Rialto Bridge at 6 am and take as many photos as you wish without bothering or being bothered by others.

This is the view from the Rialto bridge in the late morning after the city and its visitors woke up:

 

Murano

We took a vaporetto around 12 o’clock and went to the island Murano.

The island is famous above all for the art of glassmaking. In the early Middle Ages, glassmakers were banished to Murano because the people of Venice were afraid of the fire. Since then, the precious glass has been produced here and has become world famous.

My mother loved the Murano glass and wanted a chandelier for our living room. I would like to fulfill this wish posthumously sometime.

 

Burano

Even if we didn’t have a lot of time left, we didn’t want to miss a visit to the island Burano. Around 3 pm we took a vaporetto which takes about 30 minutes to go from Murano to Burano. The colorful houses are simply too beautiful to miss. If you’re looking for a peaceful place away from the crowds – maybe this is the place to choose.

What is the art of glassmaking in Murano is the lace in Burano. Here you can see elder ladies making lace. This is the main theme in every shop. Whether decorative items or clothes… Here everything is made of white cloth.

My mother loved to dig her way through the shops here and it wasn’t until her last visit that she got hold of an embroidered painting of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, which hangs in our living room. It was a strange feeling when my father showed us exactly where she had bought it.

Around 6 o’clock we made our way back towards the main island. There we planned to do one of the highlights of the day:

 

A Gondola Ride in Venice

Yeah, it’s kitschy. But shouldn’t a little kitsch and cliché be on the agenda in a city like Venice? I do think so!

The prices for a gondola ride are as far as I know the same everywhere and not negotiable: At all gondola stations of the city, there are signs with prices saying that the small tour (called Giro Turistico) costs 80 Euro until 7 pm and afterward 100 Euro. The so-called Giro Completo costs 120 Euro or 150 Euro.

Gondelfahrt Venedig

With a little luck like us, you will catch a gondolier, who was singing a traditional song about love and longing. Simply beautiful!

 

Venice – Hotel

During the weekend we stayed in this hotel: Hotel Santa Lucia. The hotel is small, but nice and is only a few minutes walk from the train station or the multi-story car parks. But it is a long way to St. Mark’s Square. Still, in my opinion, the price-performance ratio was right. We paid 540 euros for two rooms with a total of five persons and two nights including breakfast.

You want to see other accommodation options for Venice? Check out these platforms: Booking*, Tripadvisor*, Airbnb* or Hostelworld*!

 

Venice – Where to go Next

Venice is ideal if you want to explore Italy further or if you want to travel further to the southeast of Europe. Here are a few examples of the cities that would work well:

  • Milan: Milan is the perfect destination, especially for shopping fans. But also culture enthusiasts will enjoy the Cathedral of Milan or the Scala.
  • Verona: The home of Romeo and Juliet is an ideal place for a weekend trip. Even if you are not an opera lover, the Arena di Verona is absolutely worth a visit. The atmosphere is unique and it is a very special experience.
  • Florence: In 2009, I spent half a year in Florence. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back there to write an article about this beautiful city that is definitely in my top 3 Italian cities – with Palermo and Rome!
  • Ljubljana: The Slovenian capital is a pearl of peace. From here you can either explore Slovenia or travel further south. For example to Rovinj.
  • Rovinj: I fell in love with Rovinj when I was there for a week last year. The charming old town on its own peninsula is simply picturesque and the sunsets are a dream. From Venice, you can either take the FlixBus to Rovinj or a ferry. Alternatively, do it like me and go on a motorcycle road trip through Croatia.

And even if this is not just around the corner, as a half Sicilian I would like to mention my favorite island: Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and an absolute beauty.

 

Venice – Final Thoughts

For my family and me, this was a special and important journey where we experienced the places my mother loved so much and visited every year on her birthday. On the one hand, it was a farewell for us, but on the other hand, it also showed that we can feel close to her at any time by going to her favorite places.

But Venice is always worth a visit. I have been there three times now and even if it is crowded and in many corners anything but clean, I feel Venice is an absolute must-see in Italy and even in Europe. I continue to be impressed every time I stand in front of St Mark’s Basilica, walk through the many alleys across the bridges or take a vaporetto across the Canal Grande admiring the old walls from the water. The city is and remains unique and I hope to travel there many more times.

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

The Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in Europe? You should check out Palermo in Italy!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

EUROPE
SUNSET IN ISOLA DELLE FEMMINE
EUROPE
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE NORTH WEST OF SICILY
EUROPE
SPOTS TO WORK IN PALERMO

My Most Beautiful Sunset Part 4 – Isola delle Femmine

My Most Beautiful Sunset Part 4 – Isola delle Femmine

One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen was in Flores in Guatemala!

I’m completely in love with sunsets! I can’t get enough of seeing them and watching photos of them! And probably one of the reasons to become a digital nomad was to be able to see more beautiful sunsets over the ocean and to choose from where I want to work by picking the best sunset spots around the world…

That’s why I started a new series of blog posts with my most beautiful sunsets!

Here is part one: Sunset in Cabarete

And part two: Sunset in Angkor

This is part three: Sunset in Flores!

One of the most beautiful sunsets: Isola delle Femmine in Italy!

Since my mother is from Palermo I know this area quite well. But I had never seen the sunset in Isola delle Femmine. It was just last year when I went there with a cousin of mine.

You just get off the highway A29 Palermo-Mazzara del Vallo at Isola delle Femmine. When you drive over the bridge you’re already at the beach. Have a stroll along the promenade or just admire the beautiful sea. This is the perfect beach for you if you want to surround yourself with locals!

Isola delle Femmine means the Island of Women. The abandoned building on the small island reminds us of the past: It was a jail exclusively for women.

But today, the only thing that is left is its name.

But the sunset was one of the most gorgeous ones I’ve ever seen.

Walk on your right along the promenade! After a while, you will reach this part with no sand, but just harsh rocks. You will see this almost hostile landscape when the tide is low. It’s a perfect place to take photos.

As a Digital Nomad in Palermo

Sicily’s capital has everything a digital nomad needs. That’s why I created this guide that is giving you all necessary information to have a blast in this Italian city!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

EUROPE

PALERMO

EUROPE

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE NORTH WEST OF SICILY

EUROPE

SPOTS TO WORK IN PALERMO

The most beautiful places in the north west of Sicily

The most beautiful places in the north west of Sicily

During my last stay in Palermo I tried to see my second home more like a traveler and less like a local. Part of this was that I went to different tourist places close to Palermo (two hours by car max).

I decided to present you four of the destinations!

 

Cefalù

Cefalù is a super touristy town. So you shouldn’t prepare for a relaxing stay. There are always many people around and especially if you want to go to the beach you gotta know that you will not have a lot of privacy.

Cefalù Strand und Altstadt

Cefalù is still worth giving it a try. The Old Town is like a fairy tail town! The Cathedral is just beautiful and gives you an awesome view over the Piazza. 

Blick durch einen Torbogen auf den Strand von Cefalù

Altstadt Cefalù

Kathedrale Cefalù außen

You should definitely go and see the cloisters of the Cathedral as well! Especially on hot summer days the will give you shade and fresh air as well as some peace you will not find in the crowded city.

Barbara Kreuzgang Kathedrale Cefalù.JPG

Most of all around Ferragosto, one of Italy’s most important holidays on the 15th of August, locals and travelers will come to Cefalù to celebrate. Although it’s crowded it’s still a must see for every Sicily-traveler.

 

Mazara del Vallo

The town Mazara del Vallo is located 55 Kilometer south of Trapani. It’s a 2 hours bus ride from Palermo.

At the Tourist Information in Palermo the said it’s not worth going to Mazara del Vallo. There is nothing to see. Luckily I am a bit stubborn so this made my desire to go there grow. And in the end I was simply blown away by the beauty of this small city. Most of all I loved the big and small details:

The stairs with the tiles…

Mosaiktreppe in Mazara del Vallo

The quotes on this stone (“Peace begins in the Heart of all Human Beings” in different languages)…

Spruch in Mazara del Vallo

The Arco Normanno, which was so beautiful in the light of the summer sun…

Mazara del Vallo

The church that is ruin…

Sant'Ignazio

The Cathedral built in 1086 by the Normans and restructured in the 17th Century as a baroque building…

Kathedrale in Mazara del Vallo von außen

Kathedrale in Mazara del Vallo

The square with the arcades that is bringing shade during the hot Sicilian summers…

Arkaden in Mazara del Vallo

Do you understand now why Mazara del Vallo simply enchanted me?

 

Marsala

Marsala was exactly the other way round: Everybody told me to go there so in the end I was a bit disappointed. Of course! There are really nice spots in Marsala, but in total I have to say that I enjoyed Mazara del Vallo much more. See the Cathedral as an example (from the inside and from the outside – like in Mazara del Vallo):

Kathedrale Marsala

Kathedrale Marsala von innen

What I liked best about Marsala was the atmosphere. It’s typically mediterranean. Take your time to have a stroll around the Porta Garibaldi and the streets of the Old Town! 

In einer Straße von Marsala

The Parco Archeologico was really disappointing, too. The highlight were the mosaics, that you could see from above. I did my daily live vlog from there.

Mosaik Parco Archeologico Marsala

In the middle of the Old Town and the Archeological Parc there is a another place to have a stroll: a Giardino – a public garden or park.

Figur im Giardino Marsala

 

Terrasini

Terrasini is easy and quickly to reach from Palermo. The center is cute, but pretty small with a square in the middle where you will find restaurants and the Cathedral.

Kathedrale Terrasini

Locals know Terrasini for the “ugly” statues.

Hässliche Statue Terrasini

Brunnen mit Statue Terrasini

Brunnen mit Wasserhahnstatue

Tourists on the other hand side go to Terrasini because of the really nice beaches and the caves along the coast.

Terrasini Strand

Grotte Terrasini

I admit: I had never been to the center or the beaches of Terrasini before. When I was a child my family came here quite often because of the Ristorante Il Pirata where you can have really good fish and sea food. That’s why I was smiling when I passed this restaurant on my way to the places that I wanted to see for this blog post.

So if you ever go to Palermo I suggest you do both: During daytime you enjoy the beach and discover the beautiful caves of Terrasini. In the evening you will have dinner at Il Pirata thinking of me while eating delicious clams. Deal?

 

Did you like my blog post about the most beautiful places in the north west of Sicily? Or have you been to another place that I didn’t mention? Then tell me about it in the comments!

 

Yours Barbara

The Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in Europe? You should check out Palermo in Italy!

EUROPE

SUNSET IN ISOLA DELLE FEMMINE

EUROPE

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE NORTH WEST OF SICILY

EUROPE

SPOTS TO WORK IN PALERMO

Palermo – Why the Sicilian Capital is a Must See When in Europe

Palermo – Why the Sicilian Capital is a Must See When in Europe

Palermo is my second home. So I always had a kind of different point of view on the city. More like a local than like a tourist.

During my last stay though I tried my best to see the Sicilian capital through different eyes. I went to explore places that I hadn’t seen since I was a child. By that time why just went there – me and my family – to check that. Now, 20 years later, I took a look again at the beautiful historic places. I did some day trips as well. I will tell you about them in my next blog post.

Palermo - Barbara Giardino

But today’s blog post is only about Palermo!

via maqueda geschmueckt

What do you need to see, to do, to explore? I’ll tell you in a minute!

Let’s immerse into that wonderful world that is a mixture of different cultures, that left their tracks.

Influenced by the whole world

Palermo and Sicily belonged during Centuries to different peoples. All of them left parts of the own culture which became part of the following and so on until Sicily’s very own and special culture ended up existing. You can hear it, feel it, see it.

Palermo vom Ambasciatori

Hear it… because there was an impact on the language. Yes, exactly. I said language not dialect! Sicilian is not an Italian dialect, but a very own minority language. In Palermo people speak Palermitan which is a Sicilian dialect by the way, not an Italian one.

Feel it… because Palermo just feels differently than the rest of Italy. It may be the climate which is giving Palermo around 8 months out of 12 of summer. The other 4 are spring. Or it could be the typical south Italian happiness. But I can assure you that being in Italy feels different.

See it… because in contrast to the architecture in the rest of Italy the buildings in Palermo have strong influences of the Arabic and Norman style. So they differ drastically from other cities like Florence, Milan or Rome.

palermo arabisches gebaeude

 

kathedrale mit mehr gruen

My 5 Favorite Places in Palermo

#1 Piazza Pretoria

Piazza Pretoria von oben

Piazza Pretoria or Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame) is located directly in the heart of the historic center. The epithet comes from the naked statues that surround the fountain in the middle of the square. Next to it there is the Town Hall of Palermo. I always liked the fountain with the funny story of its name.

#2 Teatro Politeama

Politeama Palermo

 

The Teatro Politeama is making me smile every time I see it. Although the Teatro Massimo – the biggest opera in Italy – is way more impressive with its size and history, I often find myself sitting in front of the Politeama, but never in front of the Massimo thinking of whatever comes to my mind.

 

#3 Monreale

Monreale von innen

 

In the small town of Monreale, high up in the mountains next to Palermo, there is a Dome. It’s impressive from the inside and from the outside.

Monreale von außen compressor

The special thing about it is that people used gold leaf to decorate the whole area of the altar which is creating an extraordinary golden light and the impression of power. It was used as a model and copied in a smaller version for the chapel of the prince Federico II. in the Palazzo Normanni (the Norman Palace in the city center of Palermo, where the princes of Palermo resided).

#4 Monte Pellegrino & Santuario di Santa Rosalia

Foto aus dem Auto

On the Monte Pellegrino there are two Highlights waiting for you:

On one hand side there is the sanctuary of the patron Saint of Palermo, Santa Rosalia. It is built into the mountain so the main part of the Sanctuary consists of fieldstone. The light is therefore artificial which is creating a really special atmosphere.

Kirche Santa Rosalia

Santa Rosalia

The second highlight is along the street. If you arrive by bus to the Monte Pellegrino, you will need to walk around 29 minutes to walk there. By car it’s a 5 minutes drive. It’s a big platform at the edge of the mountain where you have an amazing view over Palermo. From the other side the view is good as well, but I am not sure about what it is that you see. It’s not Mondello I think.

Ausblick vom Monte Pellegrino auf Palermo

#5 Mondello

Mondello Palermo

Mondello is a village, a former fishing village, which has become one of the most touristy places of Palermo. In high season you can’t even move here. Because everybody wants to get some sun at one of the most beautiful beaches of Italy and go to one of the famous restaurants with the freshest fish and the best sea food.

I love coming here in October when it’s not that crowded anymore, but it’s still super good weather. I just stroll along the promenade then and watch the Monte Pellegrino.

From this side, the mountain looks like a sleeping dog (have a close look and you will see it in the photo). That’s why I was always fascinated by it – sind I was a child.

When do you fly to Palermo?

Could I convince you of the unique beauty of Palermo? Just hit the reply button if you have some more questions! If not: Safe travels!

Yours Barbara

The Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in Europe? You should check out Palermo in Italy!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

EUROPE
SUNSET IN ISOLA DELLE FEMMINE
EUROPE
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN THE NORTH WEST OF SICILY
EUROPE
SPOTS TO WORK IN PALERMO

Spots to Work in Palermo and Surroundings: My Top 3

Spots to Work in Palermo and Surroundings: My Top 3

My favorite spots to work in Palermo…. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out which ones to write about. In the last weeks that I’ve spent in Palermo and surroundings, I got most of my work in those three places done. The Coworking Space was my favorite spot, because WIFI is simply the best in the city, the location is perfect and the people there are amazing. I loved going to the Roof Top as well though and always called it my “happy place”. The beautiful view over Palermo made me smile every day again and again. The third spot where I spent a lot of time in front of my computer was the beach bar Ombelico del Mondo. Although the WIFI wasn’t working all the time, the view made me come back as often as possible.

You want to learn more about Palermo as a destination for digital nomads? Then check out my new ebook: Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads!

#1 PMO Coworking

PMO Coworking is – surprise! – a Coworking Space. It’s located directly round the corner of one of the two opera houses, the Politeama. The location is ideal… There are bus stops two minutes from the Space, which is in the middle of a pedestrian zone with many restaurants and cafés.

The Space has fast and stable WIFI (for Palermo…), a comfortable lounge area and a meeting room in case you need some more privacy for example to do a Skype call.

PMO Coworking Sitzecke

PMO Coworking Meeting Room

#2 Hotel Ambasciatori

The Hotel Ambasciatori is a 4-Star-Hotel in the Via Roma, not even 10 minutes walking distance to the Central Station of Palermo. The bus number 101 is passing by every 5 minutes and stops directly in front of the door. Isn’t that super practical?

On the seventh floor you will find the roof top terrace of the Hotel called SEVEN. They have a Restaurant and a Bar up there. The WIFI is not really the best, but the view is making up for everything. For me this is one of the most inspiring places ever! In this place I wrote for example my Palermo Guide for Digital Nomads.

Roof Top Ambasciatori

Ausblick vom Ambasciatori

#3 Beach Bar Ombelico del Mondo

I do admit there are two big disadvanteges of working here :

  1. You can never be sure that WIFI is going to be stable! Some days I was really lucky having super fast and stable WIFI like in Germany. But htere were days as well where I had to stop after a very short time and leave to search for another place.
  2. From the city center you need almost one hour to get there. With the bus number 806 you can go for example from the Politeama for about 40 minutes along the entire Libertà (one of the main streets), over the Favorita (the street connecting Palermo with Mondello) to Mondello.

 

Still it was one of my favorite places to work at, because working at the beach is simply making me happy… And this is something that you can definitely do here!

Which one would be your favorite place? Are you more the Coworking kind of worker or do you prefer Roof Tops or Beach Bars? Tell me about it in the comments!
Yours Barbara

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!