Exploring Venice Like A Local

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Happy weekend all! If you’re up to date with my travels, you’ll know that I just left beautiful Verona and was on my way to Venice. Well, Venice was amazing and I’m currently writing to you from the train journey back to Luca’s family home in Italy. But before I get into all things Venice, firstly I’m going to recap on the ordeal we just had to make this train.

Story Time… 

You know those dramatic train station scenes in movies where someone is racing against time, sprinting through the crowds to board the train before it departs? Well about ten minutes ago that was me!

Standing at the door of our carriage, Luca and I were first in line to exit the train. Our journey from Venice to Milan had been seamless, however we were cutting it close to make our connecting train from Milan to Luca’s hometown. As we finally approached the station, the look on Luca’s face told me we were cutting it extremely close. So close, that we only had two minutes to get from platform ten to platform one. Pretty much impossible.

The second the doors opened, we tactfully navigated our way towards platform one, however the growing crowd around us was making it nearly impossible to go faster than a snails pace. Thinking we had missed our connection, my mind was focused on figuring out another way to get to get us back, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Luca’s pace begin to quicken. Following his lead I started walking faster. Suddenly, without any warning he starts into a full on sprint! This is a guy who runs 11km average every two days, whereas I can barely last five minutes on a treadmill. I had no idea why he was running but I knew I had to keep up. Weaving through the crowds I was doing alright, well that was until he decided to take a sharp right turn, again without warning! I tried to follow but I was blocked by a family with multiple items of luggage, and by the time I squeezed my way through them, Luca was a good 100 meters in front of me. My immediate thoughts were, there is no way am I going to catch up to him!

The more I ran, the further away he seemed to get. And by the time I reached the platform, Luca was seconds away from getting on the train. The worst part of it all, the train wasn’t even positioned at the start of the platform, it was halfway down! As I continued running, my lungs now burning, all I could think was the train is going to depart with Luca on it, and me still running alongside it.

Finally approaching the first carriage, I thought yes, I made it! Only to see that the carriage doors were closed. You’ve got to be kidding me! I thought. Luckily carriage two still had its doors open and so I ran. Faster than I’ve ever run before, and somehow, by some miracle, I made it. I jumped through those open doors like I was jumping to save a life. And thank god I did, seconds later the train departed.

So here I am, now comfortably seated, still catching my breath as I type away. I’m still stunned that I actually made it and seriously regretting not going to the gym more! But now that ordeal is over, let me recap on our amazing time in Venice.

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Arrival… a bookshop straight out of Harry Potter

If there was thing I wanted to see whilst In Venice it was Libreria Acqua Alta. So that’s exactly where Luca and I headed after meeting up with his friend Demar, who joined us for the day.

For book obsessed me, this is by far the most interesting, unique and incredible bookshop I have ever seen. The second you step inside you’re surrounded by an abundance of books stacked inside gondolas, boats, canoes, wherever they’ll fit! Most people who visit the shop find themselves drawn to the back courtyard. A colourful and vibrant space where the owner has turned old unused books into a staircase that looks like it came straight out of Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland. My favourite part of the shop however, was a reading corner I found tucked away in the back. It was the perfect spot to sit and relax and watch the gondolas pass by.

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Daytime Exploring… city views and historical bridges

What comes to mind when you think of Venice? Nine times out of ten it’s the winding canals and beautiful gondolas. But if you explore a little further, you’ll discover that this city on water, with an atmosphere fit for the romantics, has so much more to offer. So after our trip to the bookstore, it was time to explore the not so touristy spots of Venice.

Making our way to Fontego Dei Tedeschi, today a busy shopping mall, but formally a space that housed the cities German merchants, this historical building has rooftop views that won’t disappoint. As we exited the elevator and stood in line to get a glimpse of Venice from above, I was excited for what I was about to see.

I’ve always loved a good rooftop view. There’s just something about it, seeing a city in its entirety from above that makes me truly appreciate where I am. And with beautiful views over Canal Grande from two different angles, as well as a 360° perspective over the city, I was definitely appreciating being in Venice.

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As we wondered the tiny laneways, eating gelato and getting lost, the bridges we crossed and passed by all started to look the same to me. So when we came across The Ponte Chiodo, I was a little over excited. The Ponte Chiodo is the last free standing bridge in Venice and when we got there, it was just us. A tourist free zone which I feel is a rarity in Venice. So while Luca and Demar caught up on old times, I sat on the bridge, soaked up the sun and watched the locals go about their day. It was perfect.

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Lunch… pizza, Aperol spritz and gelato

Now it wouldn’t be a trip to Venice without some Italian gelato. I LOVE GELATO! Well anything sweet for that matter. Luca and I both love Pistachio, so it was guaranteed that we’d choose this flavour. And let me just say, this one was incredibly delicious!

Having had our dessert first (isn’t it great to be an adult when you can have dessert first!) we then figured we should probably put something more substantial in our bellies. We found a cute little pizzeria down a random laneway, where we sat and enjoyed a few slices, along with a refreshing glass of aperol spritz.

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Afternoon Exploring… getting lost

If I was on my own in Venice, I think I would have been lost the entire time. To get around, it took a combination of Google maps, Luca’s keen sense of navigation and Demar’s local knowledge. Even then we still got lost from time to time. But I think if you go to Venice and don’t get lost at least once, then you haven’t truly experienced Venice.

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Departure… saying goodbye 

Even though we didn’t do the common tourist activities like go on a gondola (at €80 we thought it was quite expensive) or eat by the Rialto bridge, I had a really hard time getting on that train back to Milan. I think because we avoided the usual go to activities and crowds of visitors, and just explored the lesser known hidden laneways as much as we could, I felt a lot more connected to the city.

I’m sure I’ll be back in a year or so, for more yummy gelato and to relax in that perfect reading spot, but until then, ciao Venezia.

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20 thoughts on “Exploring Venice Like A Local

  1. themormonadventurista says:

    OMG your story about almost missing the train brings back memories when I had to sprint through the Amsterdam airport, through customs, to make my connecting flight with literally seconds to spare. Once I made it on board, I realized I was THAT person, the one that is flushed and sweaty that nobody wants to sit next to. Yup, that was me. I’m glad you were able to make it and enjoy Venice! Luca does take some amazing pictures, and I think my favorite is the one of you in the bookstore. It’s totally straight Harry Potter!

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    • Nerissa Templin says:

      Haha, it has to happen at least once when you travel right? I hate running for things, I’d rather be one hour early and bored waiting than to have to run like that again. I’m so glad you made your connecting flight! The bookshop was seriously so magical, all i needed was a wand 🙂

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    • Nerissa Templin says:

      Thank you so much! It’s awful isn’t it, having to run like that to make a connection, whether it be a train or flight. I don’t wish it upon anyone. I’ve since started exercising just in case it happens again – which I seriously hope it does not! haha.

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  2. Alicia Fowler says:

    Okay first of all – congrats on making it on the train! Second, those photos are stunning. Totally bookmarking this post for later. The freestanding bridge would freak me out a tad – I hadn’t thought to expect those in Venice! So tiny! Thanks for all the tips!

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    • Nerissa Templin says:

      Thanks, I’m still shocked I actually made it! Yes, the freestanding bridge is really cool and actually not scary when on it. I was there when not many people were around so that made a difference 🙂

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  3. Anya Carion says:

    These photos are so dreamy! I haven’t been to Venice in years (and honestly, before this, didn’t even think I wanted to go back soon!), and after reading this, I’m longing to go to Venice and the rest of Italy. I absolutely love the book steps.

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  4. bushbirdie says:

    Oh goodness, what an ordeal that was running for the train – I was right there with you! But your photos show you had a lovely time in Venice otherwise! 🙂

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