San Marco’s monumental magnificence aside, it was a relief to escape its relentless crowds and persistent fake bag vendors. My second hotel, the Al Ponte Mocenigo in the sestiere Santa Croce was far enough away from the touristy center to feel local, while being close enough to the Stan Stae vaporetto stop to remain connected.
In my four full days there – not including the day-trip to Bologna – I discovered the pleasure of unplanned exploration. Of picking one random activity each morning and letting my day evolve naturally thereafter depending upon my mood. And the weather of course.
For a person that micro manages every minute travel detail, it felt vastly liberating. And surprisingly, I managed to fit in a lot despite all the aimless wandering and quite a bit of backtracking, that would never have taken place on one of my super organised trips.
The highlights in no particular order were: A long afternoon on the island of Torcello, losing count of the number of exquisite Bellinis, Tintorettos, Canalettos and more (still in the churches they were originally commissioned for.), the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari with its glorious Titians and mausoleums, attending a performance of Madame Butterfly in the fabulous Teatro la Fenice, browsing through the Rialto markets, learning the difference between piazza (the one & only!) piazzetta and campo from a total stranger on the vaporetto, hanging around parochial campos (squares) at dusk to people watch.
The silence! The hushed, whispering, strangely comforting silence on the walk back after dinner save for the occasional splash of an oar or the bells from a nearby campanile.
And most of all, swapping my map for random yellow signs on the walls of narrow, mysterious alleys steeped in rich and ancient history. Getting lost in this most clichéd of cities was a cliché worth exploring.
102 thoughts on “Venice – Beyond San Marco”
What a great trip you had, Madhu. I do so admire you, travelling on your own. I’m afraid I might get lost forever. 😦 You have captured some lovely reflections, and I loved seeing the laundry hanging over the water, between the buildings. Hope the washline is strong. 🙂
Ha, you could never get truly lost in Venice Sylvia! 🙂 I wondered too how they managed to hang out their washing across the canal!! There was a lot less of it in the touristy parts, perhaps a sign of the dwindling population.
Wandering is a great way to find the soul of a place…
True. You seem to have done plenty of it yourself 🙂
Over the years, yes! This whole idea that you can ‘do’ a place in an hour or two leaves me cold…. Admittedly, there are interest ing detours when one doesn’t have too much time, but quite often I have returned to a place later 🙂
beautiful pic’s mam…
Thank you Bikramjit.
Thank you, Madhu, for the lovely tour as you follow your fancy rather than an itinerary.
Thank you for coming along Tish.
wonderful photo collage = 🙂 looks like an awesome place
It is. Thank you Yvette.
Madhu, It’s great that you let yourself wander – so many wonderful discoveries are made that way. And then you feel like you discovered it yourself! 🙂 ~Terri
I agree Terri, although I doubt there is anything left to be truly ‘discovered’ in Venice! 🙂
Nice set of images that give a feel of the city life.
Thank you Sally.
Lovely tour and reflections of traveling solo and unplanned, Madhu. It doesn’t appear you would have done anything differently. Extra admirable.
No, I wouldn’t have done it any differently Lynne. Thank you for your lovely comment.
have you met the “Venetian anonymous”?!… 😉
No I haven’t Melanie. Are you referring to a blogger?
Madhu, that is one place I would love to be…so much beauty, everywhere the eye can see. I know you are enjoying yourself! Thanks for sharing…the pictures inspire me…maybe I will visit there soon!
You are so right about the beauty everywhere Wendell. I hope you get to visit soon. Take care.
Madhu, it seems like you did manage to escape the crowd and find some of Venice’s quiet yet scenic alleys. It’s funny when you said about your super organized trips. Sometimes I feel like I fit into that category of traveler. However I often had to deal with situations which forced me to change plans, for example when I got lost, which happened more than once. 🙂
The thing is, I usually have plans for those times as well Bama, a plan B and C 🙂 Not having a daily agenda was wonderfully liberating, but might not really be practical when short of time and when travel partners don’t share the same interests. I might try to opt for a balance of the two in future.
Fabulous … and beyond San Marco are so many treasures … the Scala del Bovolo immediately came to mind, and then … magically … there’s your pic of it! Cheers to your find!
Thank you Frank. It was fun hunting them out.
Well done Madhu, you made it your very own experience!
Thank you Patti.
We just had 5 days in glorious Venice. It is amazing just how quiet it is away from the major tourist sites. Torcello is a favourite place to visit. Our last day was so hot we could barely do anything, but it was a great trip. Your photos are wonderful.
Glorious Venice is right Debra. And it is amazing how quiet it is away from the touristy center and after dark! Glad you enjoyed my photos. Loving your ‘Secret Venice’ finds 🙂
Madame Butterfly in Venice – how wonderful!
It realy was Gilly. Can’t make up my mind which I liked better the opera or the theater!! 🙂
I always get lost anyway so I make a carefully planned itinerary of aimless wandering. Wonderful photos again.
Thank you. A ‘carefully planned itinerary of aimless wandering’ sounds like the perfect solution Stephen 🙂
Madhu, your beautiful photos were a wonderful mini-vacation for me, and I got a great laugh out of the gondolier on the cell phone 🙂 Most definitely, yes, the blue boat is a perfect extra!
Thank you for reading Stacy, and glad you enjoyed my photos. Have a great day 🙂
You made the best of that trip. I’d love to have a boat outside my front door! A definite EXTRA.
Thought as much Colonel! And so would I! 🙂 Thank you for your lovely comment.
Your pictures took me back there…beautiful!!!!!
Happy they did! Thank you so much Maria.
Madhu, I appreciate pictures (photography); at times even more so than words, for their uniqueness and power to capture the moment in our precious and brief life, and you have that special talent for this very journey 🙂
Maria, you made my day!! Thank you for your lovely compliment.
Some exquisite images, Madhu! My favourite is ‘vaporetto ornaments’
Just wandering produced some great results. I envy you the Madam Butterfly performance :).
Thank you Jo. The opera was an afternoon show, and I am afraid i spent more time ogling at the interiors than watching the opera 🙂
Glad you said that. I’d have done the same 🙂
Madhu, these are magnificent photos. I can’t complain, as we’ll be going to France in July, but I’ve never been to Venice. You displayed it’s beauty wonderfully. Have you read any of the Donna Leon books? I love them and they take place in Venice.
Thank you Janet. I haven’t read any of the Donna Leon books, shall pick up copies right away. Have a great time in France. When do you leave?
Love that shot with the boat in it Madhu. I would definitely say it gives a little something extra to the picture.
My thoughts exactly Colline……thank you very much for your lovely comment.
Beautiful shots, a side of Venice that is incredible and not seen as much… The first shot, magical.
Thank you Dalo. Means a lot coming from you. Your blog is amazing!.
That first picture with the reflection is simply amazing artistry.
Thank you Ian. I loved those reflections at every turn.
Mi Madhu! What a coincidence! Yesterday I also uploaded some pictures of Venice! I was there last Tuesday for only 3 hours (an unusual but delightful break from work), and it was amazing! When were you there? You’ve got great shots!
Thank you. Your pictures are lovely! I was there for a week between 28 April to 05 May. Would love to return for a longer visit.
Wonderful reminder of the beauty of Venice – such a fascinating city and so well captured… 🙂
Thank you Ledrake, for your lovely comment.
These are so wonderful, the artful tourist. I had just said to someone a few days ago after seeing your previous pictures, I wanted to return to Venice, I wanted to see it again. Now here you are with these and I am once again longing to return.
Thank you Valentine. There is more on the way to tempt your further! 🙂 You should go back!
Madhu, I am trying to tempt someone in that direction trust me.
Lovely post once again. I love unplanned discoveries! Whenever I go somewhere I write down what I would like to see and plan in *free time* to do something that was not on my planning. It’s when we stop running around we discover how to live!
Absolutely. But I find I do need a bit of structure when I travel with hubby. Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment Mariska.
Random explorations. I love the sound of that, Madhu. Beautiful, memorable photos.
Thank you Judy. I can vouch for its efficacy, time permitting of course 🙂
Venice is just a magic town to me, once you walk away from the tourist’s ways and explore the more unknown places by walking a lot.
It really is Cornelia. And I was happy I managed to discover a bit of that magic.
It is an extra special place to wander around…brought back some nice memories. Beautiful, Madhu!
Thank you Ese.
Love the photo reel – you have a good eye and some great shots here! Keep it up!
I’m happy that you enjoyed it. Thank you for the lovely comment Liz.
Sometimes, ‘aimless wandering’ ends up as more rewarding, I reckon. Glad that you enjoyed your wanderings 🙂
Yes it does, as long as one has enough time on hand. Thank you for stopping by Eric.
I micro-plan, too, and have been very pleasantly surprised by what happens when I don’t. But I think the openness to wandering is best done when I’m travelling alone. Otherwise, I have people asking me, “Now what?” constantly.
Absolutely agree. We must be married to twins! 🙂
We love traveling when we can be spontaneous and let the scenery and weather dictate our plans. It sounds like a perfectly wonderful trip Madhu.
It was Luann. Sadly we don’t always have the time to allow for spontaneity.
We don’t often either Madhu, but when we can, it is usually something special.
A beautiful collection, Madhu, and I esp. love the first photo…it’s colors, reflections and the gondola! 🙂 This is on top of my bucket list; don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but I can continue dreaming…
Appreciate your comment Lauren. Of course you will. Just don’t stop dreaming 🙂
I’ll never stop dreaming; just have to finish paying for college for two kids. 🙂
I always look forward to browsing your sumptuous travel photos. They give me a feel of the place. Your narrative always complements them very well. 🙂
Thank you Imelda. Means a lot 🙂
I’m falling in Venice all over again, Madhu. Your photographs are sublime!
Thank you Elisa. Happy July! 🙂
the first picture with reflection looks so great 🙂
Thank you Joshi.
Aimless wandering was always the highlight of travel for me. And you’re right – there’s no need to fear that you won’t get anything done or seen – everything around is new to see! And you’ve captured it so beautifully, as usual.
I think Venice, in particular, lends itself to this kind of sightseeing.
Yes Venice is particularly suited for spontaneous wandering, perhaps because the entire city is so appealing.
More nostalgia! You’re tearing my heart out this morning 🙂
Ha, time to return perhaps Meredith? 🙂
I’m stuck here for another year or so, Madhu (don’t ask – pension rules) but as soon as I can I need to go to Switzerland to see my oldest friend and you can be sure I’ll hop right on the Venice train! 🙂
The photos are magnificent but the tour through your adventures deserves cheers. I’ve been captivated by every
photo on your slides. You have taken me to places on your adventure I will never see. Thank you for taking me along.
A fabulous post no matter what category you want to place it in. ❤ : )
Isadora, I appreciate your kindness. Thank you very much 🙂
Unplanned exploration is the best way to go 🙂 Thank you for this wonderful share, Madhu. Your selected reflection photo is magnificent.
Thank you dear Paula. Always a pleasure to see you here 🙂