Venice | Design Mom01

Text by Gabrielle. Photos by Gabrielle and Ben Blair.

[ UPDATED with a full report. ]

Here it is! A report on our trip to Venice. I’ve been promising this for months and now it’s ready to share.

Here’s the thing about Venice. It’s not like Rome. Or Florence. In Rome and Florence, there are specific things you want to see, and that you stand in line to buy tickets for — like the Colosseum, or the David. In Venice, the thing that you want to see? Is Venice. Yes, there are museums, and yes there are ruins, but if that’s what you’re looking for, pick another city. You can go island hopping, you can walk 30 minutes to visit a church, but the alley around the corner might be just as cool, or cooler.

Venice is the attraction in Venice.

Venice | Design Mom03Venice | Design Mom66

You can’t take a bad photo. If you’re looking for photos opps, choose Venice. There is no bad light, there is no bad angle. It’s just photo after photo of heaven. And we tooks hundreds of photos, and I included way too many of them after the jump. (I need to beg your forgiveness in advance.)

Venice | Design Mom18

When you’re there, it almost feels pretend. As if it’s a stereotype of Venice. As if Disney had created Venice as an amusement park for grownups, and they had staged all the texture and exposed brick — no detail too small. I had to keep reminding myself that people really live there. There are grocery stores and schools. Venice is all about texture. It’s like a city in constant decay, but the decay is beautiful, it’s what draws us in.

Venice | Design Mom06

And if you visit over New Year’s, Venice is COLD. We bundled up like crazy. As long as it was dry, we spent the day outside and explored… But we did have one rainy day. On that day, we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, then spent the rest of the day in our hotel room having a movie party — it was too cold and wet to be tourists.

As I’ve written before, traveling in the off season has worked great for us. No lines, no waiting at restaurants. But there are some disadvantages. An example in this case: the most recommended gelato shop was closed! You can even see a photo below of Maude trying the locked door. Sad face.

I’m going to write up a list of what we did, but really, just show up and walk around and take photos. Walk until you’re hungry. Then eat. Then repeat. That’s all it takes to have a grand time in Venice.

Venice | Design Mom04 Venice | Design Mom05

What we did:

– Spent New Year’s Eve in St. Mark’s Square. We had just arrived late that afternoon, so this was our first venture out from the hotel. Music and dancing in the square. And then fireworks over the water. A pretty spectacular first night in Venice.

– Speaking of our hotel, we stayed in quiet place in the Jewish quarter, big family-size rooms and it offered a decent breakfast. We would definitely recommend it.

– We rode the ferries, called vaporetto, every day. It’s the Venice public transportation system and it’s an amazing way to see the city. Jump on a vaporetta whenever you’re tired and enjoy the views. (And also grin when you think that they’re public transportation system is boats.)

– Took a Gondola ride. We needed two gondolas, and the photos are fun. It looks like dueling gondolas — the kids would cheer when one or the other would pull ahead.

– Visited the islands of Burano (with colorful buildings), and Murano (famed for it’s colored glass). Also, a nearby island that’s a cemetery. All 3 are on the same vaporetto loop.

– Crossed the bay to visit a church (I can’t remember the name), and climbed the tower. It offers great views of the city and surrounding islands.

– Window shopped.

– Fed the pigeons on St. Mark’s Square, and visited the cathedral.

– Bought rope as a souvenir from one of the many sailing gear and boat shops. Maude plans to make it into a nautical bracelet.

– Walked a ton. Ate lots of gelato (even in the cold!). Ate lots of pasta.

Venice | Design Mom07 Venice | Design Mom08 Venice | Design Mom09 Venice | Design Mom10 Venice | Design Mom11 Venice | Design Mom02Venice | Design Mom12 Venice | Design Mom13 Venice | Design Mom14 Venice | Design Mom15 Venice | Design Mom16 Venice | Design Mom17 Venice | Design Mom19 Venice | Design Mom20 Venice | Design Mom21 Venice | Design Mom22 Venice | Design Mom23 Venice | Design Mom24 Venice | Design Mom25 Venice | Design Mom26 Venice | Design Mom27 Venice | Design Mom28 Venice | Design Mom29 Venice | Design Mom30 Venice | Design Mom31 Venice | Design Mom32 Venice | Design Mom33 Venice | Design Mom34 Venice | Design Mom35 Venice | Design Mom36 Venice | Design Mom37 Venice | Design Mom38 Venice | Design Mom39 Venice | Design Mom40 Venice | Design Mom41 Venice | Design Mom42 Venice | Design Mom43 Venice | Design Mom44 Venice | Design Mom45 Venice | Design Mom46 Venice | Design Mom47 Venice | Design Mom48 Venice | Design Mom49 Venice | Design Mom50 Venice | Design Mom51 Venice | Design Mom52 Venice | Design Mom53 Venice | Design Mom54 Venice | Design Mom55 Venice | Design Mom56 Venice | Design Mom57 Venice | Design Mom58 Venice | Design Mom59 Venice | Design Mom60 Venice | Design Mom61 Venice | Design Mom62 Venice | Design Mom63 Venice | Design Mom64 Venice | Design Mom65  Venice | Design Mom67 Venice | Design Mom68 Venice | Design Mom69 Venice | Design Mom_01 Venice | Design Mom_02 Venice | Design Mom_04 Venice | Design Mom_05 Venice | Design Mom_06 Venice | Design Mom_07 Venice | Design Mom_08 Venice | Design Mom_09 Venice | Design Mom_10 Venice | Design Mom_11 Venice | Design Mom_12 Venice | Design Mom_13 Venice | Design Mom_14 Venice | Design Mom_15 Venice | Design Mom_16 Venice | Design Mom_17 Venice | Design Mom_18 Venice | Design Mom_19 Venice | Design Mom_20 Venice | Design Mom_21 Venice | Design Mom_22 Venice | Design Mom_23 Venice | Design Mom_24 Venice | Design Mom_25 Venice | Design Mom_26 Venice | Design Mom_27 Venice | Design Mom_28 Venice | Design Mom_29 Venice | Design Mom_30 Venice | Design Mom_31 Venice | Design Mom_32 Venice | Design Mom_33 Venice | Design Mom_34 Venice | Design Mom_35 Venice | Design Mom_36 Venice | Design Mom_37 Venice | Design Mom_38 Venice | Design Mom_39 Venice | Design Mom_40 Venice | Design Mom_41 Venice | Design Mom_42 Venice | Design Mom_43 Venice | Design Mom_44 Venice | Design Mom_45 Venice | Design Mom_46 Venice | Design Mom_47 Venice | Design Mom_48 Venice | Design Mom_49 Venice | Design Mom_50 Venice | Design Mom_51 Venice | Design Mom_52 Venice | Design Mom_53 Venice | Design Mom_54 Venice | Design Mom_55 Venice | Design Mom_57Venice | Design Mom_58Venice | Design Mom_56 Venice | Design Mom_59

It really was an amazing trip. The sort of trip where you show up feeling depleted and can feel your soul filling right up to the brim. It’s so dang beautiful. If you’ve been I hope it was beautiful for you, too. And if you haven’t been, put it on your list. Venice is a jewel.

P.S. — The title is true: no one fell in! I was most concerned about Oscar and Betty, because they can get distracted when they’re chatting and walking at the same time, but we paired little kids with big kids and it worked out great. It is a funny thing — we were on boats every day, sometimes on open water, and we didn’t see a life-jacket the entire time. It’s a different world.