On Sunday April 12, the day after our wedding, we left Charleston around 11:30 for Charlotte. We spent the morning at a farewell breakfast with our out-of-town guests and then stopped by our condo to grab our suitcases and throw together our toiletries. Then we hit the road toward Charlotte. We decided to fly out of Charlotte because we were able to fly directly to Rome. Mr. Coral grew up in Charlotte, and his parents still live there. So, we were able to leave his car and the dog at his dad’s house. We hate having to board her, so it was worth it to drive the three hours just to let her stay in a friendly, familiar house.
The drive is normally three hours, but took over five hours due to some major traffic jams on the highway. We were a little bit stressed, but luckily had plenty of time before our 6:30 flight.
We arrived on our plane and laughed when we saw that we were one of four honeymooning couples literally in a row on the plane. We weren’t so special anymore. We still got some perks from my dorky Mr. & Mrs. T-shirts (bought via Groop Dealz). The flight attendant brought us all champagne before we took off! The flight was really empty, so people were able to spread out. It was really nice. We watched a movie, ate dinner, and then slept rather restlessly until we were pretty much there.
We arrived in Rome at 9:35 AM local time. While we flew directly to Rome, we didn’t plan to start our trip there. We caught a local train from the airport to Rome Termini, the main Rome train hub. We had pre-booked these train tickets (they were the only tickets we pre-booked for the whole trip). Retrospectively, we didn’t need to pre-book them and could have gotten on an earlier train if we’d bought the tickets that day. It was OK, though. We were tired and sat in a small cafe and had our first Italian meal—pizza, of course! I had margherita and Mr. C had fungi (mushroom).
By then it was time to catch our train to Venice. It was a four-and-a-half hour train ride, and I passed out right away. We were surrounded by people speaking Italian and it was really exciting—we knew that we weren’t in the States anymore!
We arrived in Venice and were immediately impressed by the sites. The station is located right on the canal—we were instantly struck by the beauty of the city and its true uniqueness. We had directions to our Air BnB apartment that said to start by taking the BOAT, and we bought tickets but somehow got going in the wrong direction. The boat operator was a bit rude about it, but I guess he is constantly harassed by lost English-speaking tourists. We got it figured out, but when we got off the boat at our stop, we went the wrong way! We tried to use Google Maps to find our apartment, but it said “address not found.” We later figured out that since Venice has no cars, driving directions do not work, and you have to change your maps to walking! Seems obvious, but we totally didn’t think of it at the time.
We arrived at our apartment and were so excited to drop our backpacks. Our apartment was small but very clean and had a huge rooftop patio with great views of the rooftops. Our host had strawberries and champagne waiting for us, and we sat on the roof and enjoyed the view!
We looked at Trip Advisor and decided to try Del Moro’s Fresh Pasta To Go. It was really close to our apartment and was just a tiny hole-in-the-wall. However, there was a line going out the door! We got up to the counter and ordered three pastas—quatro fromaggio (four cheese), pesto, and bolognese di pollo (red sauce with chicken sausage). It came in Chinese take-out containers. The man at the check-out didn’t want to let us order three pastas—he said “Two people, two pasta. One person, one pasta,” but we really wanted to try three different sauces! We carried it back to our apartment (it was only a five minute walk) and ate it on the rooftop with a bottle of white wine (our host had a wine fridge where you could purchase bottles of wine for only five Euros!). And we ate all the pasta.
After eating that big meal, we decided to go on a nighttime walk. We walked down to the river and around the Grand Canal. We didn’t really know where we were going, but we walked for about one hour. Venice is such a beautiful place to wander!
Needless to say, our heads hit the pillows pretty hard that night.
On Tuesday, we woke up in Venice! Our apartment provided a great breakfast spread—we had fresh fruit, juice, coffee, yogurt, and pastries. It was great to not have to go out and hunt for breakfast. We packed our day bag and headed to St. Marco’s Square. This is the big tourist-y area in Venice.
We started by going into St. Marco’s Basilica. It was free to get into this amazing church. We were blown away by the details in the architecture. It’s crazy to think that they made this hundreds of years ago without modern technology!
Next, we crossed the square to Correr’s Museum. This appears (to us) to be one of the less popular attractions on the square. However, the ticket that you buy here is a combination ticket that also includes Doge’s Palace, which is a really popular attraction. Having the ticket allowed us to skip the really long line at Doge’s, so we are really glad that we did it! Correr’s Museaum is a preserved palace that used to house Italian royalty. I loved seeing the decor.
There was also a museum with art, statues, coins, and other artifacts. It was interesting to see it all.
Next, we headed across the square toward Doge’s Palace. Of course, we stopped for a Nutella crepe for a snack.
Doge’s Palace was where the government was housed. There were huge chambers for council meetings and courts. We also saw the armory, where there were tons of swords, armor, guns, arrows, and more.
We also went down into the basement, which was the old prison. It was very spooky and eerie down there. We walked across the Bridge of Sighs, which is where the prisoners were able to look out at Venice for the last time before being locked away.
After leaving Doge’s Palace, we were starving. We decided to grab a quick slice of pizza. Most of the pizza-by-the-slice restaurants had no seating, so we just ate them while we walked. You also can’t get tap water for free in Italy (at least, not in our experience), so we were thankful that we had packed re-fillable water bottles.
We walked across the Rialto Bridge and walked through a shopping market. There were lots of booths of goods for sale, including leather goods and murano glass. We had to carry everything that we bought, so we didn’t want to buy much. I purchased a small glass figurine as my souvenir.
After the market, we just wandered and explored Venice. There were so many alleyways and small bridges. It was very romantic and fun just to wander! We sat on the edge of a pier on the Grand Canal and just looked over the water and relaxed.
By this time, it was about two o’clock, and I was hungry again! We popped into Cantina du Mori—a really small restaurant that served tiny bites of food. We got a sampler of parmesan, salami, tuna crusting, artichoke paste, and fried carne. Oh, and vino bianca della casa (white house wine), of course! It was great to relax and have some authentic eats.
Next, we walked more. We were near the market so we went to see the fish and produce, but it had closed up for the day. We ended up on the Grand Canal. We debated it and decided to splurge on an (80 Euro, 30 minute) gondola ride! I am so glad that we did—it was one of the highlights of Venice for me. We started on the Grand Canal but were mostly on smaller canals. It was beautiful, relaxing, and romantic.
After that, we were pretty much out of cash, so we headed back to the apartment. We sat on our rooftop piazza and read and napped until about 6:00 PM.
Then, we decided to go ahead and go on a walk. We wanted to walk to the train station and time it to see if we could do that in the morning instead of taking a taxi boat. It only took us 20 minutes and we pre-bought our tickets for the next morning. We finally got the hang of the Venice streets and started to recognize landmarks.
We headed back to our apartment, dropped off our stuff, and headed out to dinner. We ate at Osteria al Mascaron for dinner, which was very close to our apartment. One thing that was new for us was that they seat you at a table with strangers. So, if most of the tables were tables for four and there were lots of reservations for two, they would pair you up with strangers. It was different, but not a problem. Most of the people that we sat with at restaurants weren’t speaking English, so we just kind of politely ignored each other.
We had bianca della casa, a caprese appetizer, and a seafood medley pasta. It was so fresh and delicious. We really stuffed our faces!
After dinner, we walked for about 30 minutes. We saw a group of students wearing Clemson gear and spoke to them—they were studying abroad, and one girl was from about ten minutes from us! It’s a very small world. We grabbed our nightly gelato and headed back to the apartment to go to sleep.
Next up, we head to Lake Como!