After all the eating and shopping, we left Tuscany several pounds heftier and with heavier luggages. It was early in the afternoon when we boarded the train to Venice.
During the train ride, I was busy worrying about the boats and the gondola rides. I’ve always been scared of the deep water because I don’t know how to swim. As clueless as ever, I was worried about tipping the boat over.
Upon arrival at the Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station, we bought tickets for the Vaperotto or the waterbus that will take us to Rialto where our hotel is situated.
Porter services were available as soon as we arrived at the Rialto. We met a Filipino porter who gave us tips on where to exchange money with better rates.
We checked in at The Centauro Hotel, housed in an ancient palace built in the 1500s with Venetian style furnishings and located at the heart of the historic center of Venice. It is a stone’s throw from St. Mark’s square and all the most interesting places for art and culture.
As soon as we got settled in, I immediately explored the area. One can easily get lost in Venice even with the world’s best maps. Venice is a unique city in the sense that it has no cars nor streets but with alleyways (calli) and smaller alleys (callette). The only way to get around is by boat or walking.
On our first night, I went out to find the gorgeous, pigeon-filled and cafe-lined Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square.) The centerpiece, of course, is the magnificent Basilica di San Marco. The basilica has a separate campanile (bell tower) that stands 98.6 meters tall.
The piazza was slightly eerie but stunningly beautiful with the moon shining down on us. It was magical, especially when the bell tower rang at night to signify the end of day and all the lights around the square are turned off.