Highlights: Bridge of Sighs, San Marco Square, Basilica di San Marco, Rialto Bridge, Gondola Ride
The romantic city of Venice, built on over 100 islands, is one of Italy’s must-see locations. Unfortunately, the city is sinking, and as sea levels rise, flooding is becoming more and more commonplace. Many believe that Venice will one day be entirely underwater, so we encourage you to go visit while you still have the chance!
While we would have liked to have spent more time in Venice, sometimes our itinerary just doesn’t allow. Located 2.5 hours away from Milan, we decided to take a day trip and see the best sights that we could in just one day.
We booked a tour leaving Milan at 7am. After a 2.5 hour bus ride, we hopped on a boat and got our first glimpses of the City of Love.
We started the day with a 2 hour guided walking tour, included in our tour. We first passed the Bridge of Sighs, one of the most famous bridges in the world. It gets it’s name from the fact that it was the bridge that prisoners crossed from the examination room to their prison cells. It is said that the prisoners would sigh as they caught their last glimpses of Venice through the tiny windows.
Continuing along Riva degli Schiavoni, or one of the city’s main promenades, we came to Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. This is the most famous (and the most crowded) square in Venice, as there are many things to see right here. We started with Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, a symbol of gothic architecture. If you have the time, tickets are available for palace tours.
Next we passed Campanile di San Marco, the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica. First built as a lighthouse, this tower is 323ft tall and offers a great view of the city, should you choose to climb it. Don’t miss the bells ringing, every hour on the hour!
As we continued into the square, we were greeted with the view of Basilica di San Marco, or St. Mark’s Basilica. This intricate basilica has 5 domes, over 500 columns, and a huge collection of art and tapestries from hundreds of years ago.
PRO TIP: Admission to the Basilica is free. However, make sure you are dressed appropriately (shoulders covered, shorts below the knee) or you will be turned away. Also, lines can get very long, so be sure to get there early!
Next we headed towards the famous Rialto Bridge. On the way, we found this adorable spot where a lot of gondoliers waited for their next ride.
Walking over the Rialto Bridge, we found it lined with lots of tourist shops (a great time to pick up a souvenir!). The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of four bridges that cross the Grand Canal – the biggest canal in Venice which is used as one of the main traffic corridors into and out of the city.
By this time we were getting hungry and decided to stop for lunch near the Rialto Bridge. There are tons of options to choose from. Of course we opted for pizza and pasta!
After lunch, we were given free time to explore. We winded over bridges and through small roads until we found ourselves back at San Marco Square.
From here, it was time to take our very first gondola ride! Gondola rides can be pretty expensive (see prices here) but we decided to splurge for the experience. We sat with 4 other people in our gondola (from our tour group).
Our gondolier did not speak very much English, but he did sing for us in Italian! After a 40 minute cruise along the canals, we unfortunately had to say our goodbyes. Ciao gondolier! If you can afford it, I’d recommend this tour.
The rest of the day was spent at our leisure. We explored many shops and churches, wandered the canals and even found time for an Aperol Spritz, the classic Venetian apertif (only ONE of us actually liked how this tasted, but still it’s a classic – you have to try it!).
Finally it was time to say our goodbyes to Venice. We boarded a boat, which led us to a bus, which took us back to Milan.
As always, if you have any questions, you can contact us here.