Go to Venice, and get wonderfully lost

Going to Venice is quite an experience. There are a lot of beautiful places in this world, but how many of them can boast about being a half-sunken city filled with majestic Gothic and Baroque palazzos and criss-crossed by water roads?

Venice is unique. And that is made clear before you even arrive, when the train runs along the only road crossing from the mainland to the island where the main train station, Santa Lucia, is located. And then you forget for a minute, because the busy train station looks just like a thousand others, with time tables, people running around, shops, and a long line for the restroom.

But then you step out of the station, and you see the expanse of the Gran Canale, and right in front of you, on the opposite side, is San Simeone Piccolo.

This is the first thing you see when you step out of the Venice train station, with the Canal Grande stretching on either side. And you fall instantly in love.

Chances are, you will need a moment to recover. I certainly did. And then I quickly made my way to the Scalzi Bridge (Ponte degli Scalzi) to cross to the other side.

So exciting to walk on this beautiful bridge and cross the Canal Grande for the first time! Ready to get lost in Venice.

“Where are we going?” inquired my husband, who has been traveling with me long enough to know that I tend to have an itinerary that took weeks to hone down to perfection.

“We” I said smirking “are going to get lost in Venice”, and started walking, ignoring his incredulous “What? What do you mean, ‘lost’? We have maps!”

Getting lost is most tourists’ worst nightmare. But sometimes the only way to really experience the place you are visiting is to let go of all sense of direction and all lists, and just go where you feet take you.

In Venice that’s especially tricky, because often you will find yourself at a dead end (albeit a pretty one)

lovely dead end in a Venetian alleyway

and will have to backtrack and take another way. It’s like the most enchanting maze.

It always pays to look up when walking around Venice.

And then sometimes the dead end involves a road. Except in Venice, roads are made of water. And you cannot just cross over, so you admire the beautiful palazzo from the opposite side.

looking at the palazzos across the

It’s kind of surreal, but lovely.

Venetian palazzo

Venetian palazzo

Basically, Venice captures you and decides where you can and cannot go.

Sometimes you are trapped in an endless maze of little streets and have no idea where you are going.

(“Look up! Maybe we can tell our direction based on the position of the sun!”)

Looking up while walking the streets in Venice

Other times… whoops, water again. Go back (do not pass GO, do not collect 200.)

dark water alleys in Venice

But as much as I might enjoy being lost in a sea of loveliness, I do appreciate having some clue that I haven’t spent the past 4 hours walking in circles. Thank goodness for the signs pointing the way to San Marco, placed everywhere (feels slightly better, knowing that everyone else is just as lost as you are).

Though nothing can really prepare you for what welcomes you once you get to Piazza San Marco.

Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Libreria Sansoviniana and Campanile in Piazza San Marco, Venice

detail of Basilica di San Marco, Venice

And that’s when that “I don’t ever, ever want to leave!” feeling might come over you. Because it’s such a feat of astoundingly beautiful architecture, that you might go slack-jawed. Or get totally hyper. Or get teary-eyed. Or, how my usually-stoic husband put it, “Wow, now even I am impressed!”

Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Unfortunately the time comes when you have to start walking in the general direction of the station, unless you want to be stuck on the island(s). Luckily the way home is just as pretty as the way there.

view from the Accademia Bridge, Venice

It was only one day. It somehow seemed so much longer, because we walked and saw so much – and yet it also went by in a heartbeat, and I want to be there again, right now.

Soon, Venice. Soon.

 



  • RaleighWhatsUp

    It was great to see your post! We were in Venice for several days in June of this past Summer and it is now one of my favorite all time cities! Its such a unique city experience. We can’t wait to go back.

    • It really is a unique city experience, I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you for the visit, Chana!

  • Pamela RG

    Hi Elisa, Venice is truly magically and easy to get lost in. It is one of my favourite cities to visit in Italy. Thank you for your comment on my Blog. I hope you will get the Book. I am following now on Instagram and G+.

    • Thank you Pamela!
      yes, it is definitely easy to get lost in, but at least you don’t feel like you are missing anything by getting lost 🙂
      Have a lovely weekend!

  • Venice is at the top of my travel bucket list, just below Rome! I hope I’m able to explore it one day, sometime soon! x

    • To tell the truth, it wasn’t especially high on by travel bucket list, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t wait to go back!
      I hope you are feeling better. xo

      • Mark

        Did you find that Venice was very similar to the film “The Truman show”? you walk down some streets and there is not a single person and then you turn the corner and 100 people are walking towards you. I love Venice, for me the best time to go is in the winter. Ice cold but very very sunny

        • haha, yes Mark that is very accurate. I kind of loved the more deserted streets though, so I purposely would walk wherever the fewer crowds were, except for Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge.

          Visiting in winter sounds nice! Will keep it in mind for next visit.

  • There are definitely worse places to get lost than in a beautiful city like Venice but I can imagine your relief upon reaching Piazza San Marco. We got similarly lost in Paris once and it was a little frantic and exhilarating at the same time.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

    • It was definitely amazement more than relief – it’s so gorgeous! 😉

  • i love how you planned on getting lost 🙂 venice is so beautiful. i would love to see it in person one day

    • I hope you do Jane! It is definitely a unique city.

  • I have definitely heard getting lost in Venice is the way to go – I am a planner and fully intend on planning to get lost when we go.
    So, we are planning to go this June – you only went for a day? It is so freaking expensive I am considering doing that rather than staying overnight. It has always been high on my bucket list so I absolutely do want to go, but not sure if we should stay one night or just arrive in the morning (from Rome) and leave at night – or some variation of that, anyway. Thoughts?

    • haha.. “I fully intend on planning to get lost” 😉 You totally get me, girl 🙂

      E-mailing you about the travel bits 🙂

  • Cindy

    Wow! How gorgeous!! I’ve always wanted to visit Venice. Thanks for sharing these photos!

  • Gorgeous images, these made me miss Rome!

    • I hear you! Some of the details on the more Byzantine-style palazzos really reminded me of Rome!

  • Amanda Freerksen

    These photos are gorgeous! Isaiah and I visited Venice together many years ago and stayed at a crappy hotel near the main station, but it worked out for us because even when we got lost (happily got lost) we never really felt lost because every once in a while would appear a sign that said “stazione” and an arrow pointing to the main station! At least we always knew how to get back to the hotel 😉

    • haha – exactly! That’s a great way to go. As picturesque as it is, I am not sure I would want to navigate all the bridges and alleys at night, looking for the hotel 🙂

  • Tobia Nooke

    Venice is on my bucket list (not very high until now) but has always been very top priority on hubby’s list. We actually were thinking about going there for our honeymoon. I would love to go – maybe even this year?! who knows. Anyways thanks for the tip to just get lost I tend to overplan because I feel I miss something otherwise.
    Have a great weekend, Tobia

  • Tobia Nooke

    Venice is on my bucket list (not very high until now) but has always been very top priority on hubby’s list. We actually were thinking about going there for our honeymoon. I would love to go – maybe even this year?! who knows. Anyways thanks for the tip to just get lost I tend to overplan because I feel I miss something otherwise.
    Have a great weekend, Tobia

  • Tobia Nooke

    Venice is on my bucket list (not very high until now) but has always been very top priority on hubby’s list. We actually were thinking about going there for our honeymoon. I would love to go – maybe even this year?! who knows. Anyways thanks for the tip to just get lost I tend to overplan because I feel I miss something otherwise.
    Have a great weekend, Tobia

  • Tobia Nooke

    Venice is on my bucket list (not very high until now) but has always been very top priority on hubby’s list. We actually were thinking about going there for our honeymoon. I would love to go – maybe even this year?! who knows. Anyways thanks for the tip to just get lost I tend to overplan because I feel I miss something otherwise.
    Have a great weekend, Tobia

    • Tobia, as always you are a girl after my own heart. I am definitely a planner when I travel! I have a plan and plan B itinerary, have a favorite guidebook that i always buy for whatever destination we are visiting (DK Eyewitness Travel), I look up the weather and terrain before packing… you name it. Here, getting lost was part of the plan 😉
      Have a lovely weekend T! xoxox

  • I love the idea of getting lost anywhere. To me that is what travel is all about – as long as there’s a restaurant handily nearby!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • haha, good point Suze – the idea of getting lost without any access to delicious food, particularly in a country where the food is so fabulous… abysmal. Luckily in our meanderings we came across a lovely little pizzeria that also made gluten-free pizzas!

  • I’d get lost in Venice…that’s for sure, but as you said that is the best way to fully capture and experience a city. If you just followed a map or what the book said you would miss so much more. LOVED the photos. So need to go.

    • I think it’s one of those places where you have to just embrace getting lost. Even if you didn’t mean to, it would be so hard to follow a map exactly, what with all the little streets and the canals! You’d go nuts and miss so much. Much better to let go of my control-freak tendencies and just embrace the chaos 😉

    • I think it’s one of those places where you have to just embrace getting lost. Even if you didn’t mean to, it would be so hard to follow a map exactly, what with all the little streets and the canals! You’d go nuts and miss so much. Much better to let go of my control-freak tendencies and just embrace the chaos 😉

    • I think it’s one of those places where you have to just embrace getting lost. Even if you didn’t mean to, it would be so hard to follow a map exactly, what with all the little streets and the canals! You’d go nuts and miss so much. Much better to let go of my control-freak tendencies and just embrace the chaos 😉

    • I think it’s one of those places where you have to just embrace getting lost. Even if you didn’t mean to, it would be so hard to follow a map exactly, what with all the little streets and the canals! You’d go nuts and miss so much. Much better to let go of my control-freak tendencies and just embrace the chaos 😉

  • Marie’s Travels

    Wow. Venice sounds amazing! I would love to go there one day and get lost just like you did 🙂

    • I hope you get to do that, Marie 🙂
      have a lovely Sunday!

  • Loooove the way you wrote this like a story (and sometimes a board game, haha)! I could picture myself walking alongside you. Your photo of the Scalzi Bridge brought back many good memories. Sitting right there on the steps into the water was my only moment in Venice that wasn’t overcast and rainy and it was only for a few minutes as I enjoyed breakfast before my ferry trip to Greece. Those few minutes transformed my trip from pretty good to amazing. And clearly I should have taken the train in!

    • Thank you Eva, what a lovely comment! I’m glad my post brought back good memories.
      Amazing how a simple detail, a special moment, can change our outlook on an entire day, or even an entire trip. I can definitely relate to that 🙂

  • Love your vibrant images. So true that Venice captures you and decide your destiny during the trip!

    • Thanks Reeta! It doesn’t, doesn’t it? 🙂

  • Amanda Kendle

    Oh I love it! I have been (less intentionally) lost in Venice but I agree that it is by far the best way to discover it. Dead ends and all!

    • I don’t see how it would be possible not to get lost, even trying. You’d go babanas and miss so much. Here’s to getting lost in Venice 😉

  • I think so. It’s kind of like moving in with someone on the first date, which is a bit much, but then they turn out to be totally awesome and have only a couple of annoying habits 😉 That’s how my first date with Venice went 😉

  • Oh my goodness. Venice wasn’t on my list of places to visit before, but now it is. I’d love to spend a day lost in that gorgeous city.

    http://bedknobsandbaubles.com/

    • Thank you Jessica!
      Truth be told, it hadn’t been on the top of my list either, until we had the opportunity to visit while in Veneto for a wedding, but I’m sooo happy we went, and can’t wait to go back!

  • It looks gorgeous there and that’s one of the things I want to do – get very lost in Venice at twilight. Utterly spooky and romantic at the same time

    • I purposely got out of there while it was till daylight, but I can see the appeal of taking a romantic walk in venice at at clair de lune 🙂

    • I purposely got out of there while it was till daylight, but I can see the appeal of taking a romantic walk in venice at at clair de lune 🙂

  • Leigh Powell Hines

    I so want to go back to Venice. Your photos are lovely. I got a little lost, too. In some way, it is kind of like a maze.

    • Thank you Leigh, that’s very kind.
      It definitely is a bit like a maze, isn’t it? But such a lovely one.

  • Beautiful. You’ve definitely made me want to go there!

    • Thank you Megan! If you get the chance, you absolutely should. It’s pretty amazing!

  • Gorgeous photos! They make me want to go back to Venice again. When I went it was wet and gloomy, I loved to see the Venice you explored.

    • Thank you Monika! Yes, June is high tourist season, but it’s lovely! Worth a trip 🙂