Venice is bit of a cliché, especially as a summer destination, many say, but I was determined to visit this little paradise, having dreamt about it for years. I was on a quick trip to Italy, and Venice was my first stop.
I took a train from Milan’s remarkable Central Station to Venice, a two and a half hour journey. By the way, Italy’s inter-city trains are the perfect way to travel around the country. They’re comfortable, clean, fast and silent! More importantly, you can just pop open a bottle of wine while you’re on them, taking in the beautiful vistas on a happy high.
As my train pulled into Venice, gliding past small expanses of ocean, I saw dark clouds gathering on the horizon. Scores of houses and other buildings rose by the water, their typical red-tile roof in sharp contrast to the sky. My joy was unimaginable.
We took a water bus to our hotel along the Grand Canal. Water buses are the easiest and cheapest mode of transport, so don’t be surprised to find businessmen in Armani suits travelling to work on them. We had bought tickets beforehand for the duration of our stay, so getting to and fro via the waterways was extremely easy.
Speaking of which, don’t be surprised if you see pets on these buses, especially dogs. Italians love their pets, and they’re quite well-behaved, so you’ll see them in restaurants, public transport and cafes.
I was quite surprised to find a furry little dog emerging from underneath the seats in front of me, and perhaps a little scared too, because if he bared his teeth, I wouldn’t even have the time to jump into the canal.
But I immediately felt guilty for doubting his intentions as he rubbed his head against my legs in a show of peace.
Our hotel, Locanda Leon Bianco, was a short walk from the bus stop, located on the third floor of an old house overlooking the canal from various sides. It’s a family-owned enterprise that is homely and olde worlde to boot, so the gentleman who owns the place cooks breakfast and you can always call for them by ringing a little bell at the reception – no room service and the usual trappings of a modern hotel, which was perfect.
They have a little dog as well.
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