It was a rainy day in Venice and St. Mark’s Square had less traffic than normal. The courtyard tables were empty as people huddled under cover crowding the inside tables of the cafes. Those who did brave the square for photos (and **ugh** selfies) had colorful umbrellas or had bought the plastic raincoats being sold throughout the city. With my umbrella, I found the statue to meet the Walks of Italy guide for the Venice boat tour, a small private adventure.
Jennifer, an Australian who, like so many, fell in love and became a local, introduced herself and gave me a lanyard with headsets to wear around my neck so she could narrate as we walked and within the boat. I’m not usually a fan of this type of device but in this case with people in and out of the boat it was needed.
We walked down to the taxi stand to find our private driver for the tour. Boarding the water taxi, Jennifer told the two couples from New Zealand (our Kiwis) that they could stand outside in the back as they requested it and were there first. It was raining so I was ok with this as I preferred to be dry inside as I didn’t have a plastic raincoat opting for my trusty umbrella (which doesn’t quite work well on boats, just saying). Once inside, I took off the headset so I could listen to Jennifer who was seated across from me. With only nine on the tour (the maximum number), it was a very private experience.
The taxi departed San Marco en route to the quieter canals as Jennifer explained the history and pointed out different points of interest. I would go outside up front and squeeze in between the roof and the inside area to take photos (yes, I was getting wet doing this but hey, one must suffer for art!). Another guest decided to stay outside up front (he had a plastic coat). Others watched the city go by through the windows. Normally if it were a sunny day, there would be room for all of us to stand outside with the guide inside but sadly, this was a cold, windy and rainy day. But don’t fret, even in the rain, Venice is truly stunning and the history transports you back to the day of the Doges.
Touring through the canals, we passed churches, statues and the last workshop for gondolas (you could see a guy inside working on a gondola). After the canal tour, we drove on the Grand Canal for points of interest there like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, one of the Biennale Arts Festival pavilions and a few bridges.
From there we went across the Grand Canal to San Giorgio Maggiore. We would exit the boat and enter the church where the Biennale piece for Together by Jaume Plensa was on display. Walking past the different parts of the exhibition we found the lift to the top of the bell tower for fantastic views of the island of Venice (the rain stopped but the dark clouds remained) and surrounding islands. Despite the clouds, the views were still good.
After our time at the top, we went outside for our Venetian photos. Jennifer said that locals will come here for their wedding photos so that St. Mark’s and Venice is properly in the background. Those in St. Mark’s square are not local to the area.
We wandered into another art installation next door by the artist Magdalena Abakanowicz while we waited for our taxi back to San Marco. Her large scale installation of 110 burlap figures in the crowd was very interesting and emotional as I read more about the artist and her work.
With this introduction to the canals of the city, I would later find myself walking past the gondola workshop on a sunny day while eating gelato. I also learned that my AirBnb guesthouse in Dorsoduro was a canal away from the tour path so it was good orientation to that area of the city, one that is filled with artists and locals and a sought after area to buy albeit expensive.
Back at San Marco, we said our goodbyes and went our own way swallowed whole by the crush of the tourists.
The Walks of Italy Private Boat Tour of Venice is a great way to get yourself oriented in the maze of the city especially on your first day. I’ve been in Venice many times before but this tour gave me a refresher plus the opportunity to return on foot to a few new locations during my stay. The two hour tour cost €98 per person which when compared to a 1/2 hour gondola ride (€80 pp) is a great value in my opinion.
And because your Venice boat tour by water taxi with Walks of Italy will most likely be on a gorgeous summer day, I give you this view of the Grand Canal that happened on my last day in the city.
Thank you to Walks of Italy for allowing me to be a guest on the tour.
As always, opinions are uniquely mine.