Strolling through Venice during COVID-19
Venice is amongst the best places to visit right now to experience an empty city, which usually sees 30 million visitors a year. Currently however, everyone around you is speaking Italian and you feel taken back to days long gone when Venice was still known as a European powerhouse rather than a city turned tourist attraction.
Spontaneously deciding on a trip to Italy, we only stayed in Venice for 48 hours but made the most out our time there. In the following part you can read more about our experience, accommodation and recommendations when visiting Venice.
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal and its first iteration dates back to 1173 when it was a wooden pontoon. It has been reconstructed several times since then, lastly in 1591 to its current stone configuration. Due to its beauty and the view from top, it is one of the busiest landmarks in Venice. In summer it is nearly impossible to snap a photo near the balustrade due to the mind-boggling amounts of people surrounding and on top of the bride.
When we saw the bridge for the first time at around 10:30pm there were only a handful of people on it. We decided to sit a couple of hundred meters down the river from the bridge instead of crossing it, since seeing it empty, even at 10:30pm, is close to impossible. We returned on our last day by accident during our walk through the streets and although quite a lot more people were there, it was still a stark contrast to pre-COVID times.
Basilica di San Marco
There are 139(!!!) churches in Venice but none come close to the notoriety, size or beauty of the Basilica of Saint Mark. Its history is closely linked with that of Venice as a whole. It was built, rebuilt, burned in one of Venice’s many fires, added to and had its use changed more times than I can correctly remember but all this just adds to the uniqueness of the building. Usually the Piazza di San Marco resembles the dance floor of a club in Ibiza during July with people crowding the largest square in Venice waiting hours to get a glimpse of the delicate mosaics inside the Basilica. When we visited, the square was all empty and we were able to enter the cathedral immediately and shared the space with only fifteen other people. Due to the unprecedented “aqua alta” (high tide) back in November the floor of the cathedral was closed due to reconstruction works and we could only enjoy the top portion and outside areas.
Ospedale SS Giovanni e Paolo
Undoubtedly the prettiest hospital in the world, this building has a unique history that mirrors the advanced society Venice enjoyed early on. The riches brought forth by trade early in its history enabled Venice’s high society to engage in philanthropic work that saw the construction of hospitals and public housing, among others. It is located next to a beautiful gothic church on a square all bearing the same name. The hospital has grown substantially over the years, now stretching back the whole block to the lagoon. The unusual ambulance and hearse (hint, they float) are a strange sight to see but when you look across the lagoon behind the hospital you can see the main graveyard of Venice on a separate island and you understand the need for aquatic transportation even after death.
is where we spent our two nights in Venice. It is a bed and breakfast that does not do it justice. With only six luxurious rooms it feels like a five-star hotel whilst simultaneously making you feel at home. The owner of the hotel, Brittany, is an American, who came to Venice after meeting her husband (a rare actual Venetian) during her studies. After a successful stint in interior design, she felt like a change in her professional life and came up with an ingenious plan. She saw all the empty Palazzos (the houses, where the nobility of Venice used to live on the Canale Grande) and thought that they are all the perfect venue for hotels. Drawing up a business plan, she approached every owner she could find and presented her idea, all but one turned her down. Sharing the cost of renovation, she now lives on the top floor of the building and is running the B&B in the lower floors. If there is a better way to live in a dream home whilst having your dream job, we are not aware of it.
Brittany had to furlough all her staff due to COVID so was the only person taking care of us. She made us the most amazing breakfast (pastry from the 2-Star Restaurant next door is included) and sat down with us for close to an hour telling us the story of her B&B and gave us tips for our stay in Venice. The intimate feel and luxurious finish paired with views of the Canale Grande from our bed made this one of the best stays we ever had. All this makes Cima Rosa a very sought-after destination for tourists all over the globe and rooms are usually booked out months in advance. We booked our stay here when we were already driving towards Italy.
I don’t even know where to start. From authentic, local to high class restaurants, in Venice you find everything you are craving for. Especially, during Corona times you get the chance to get a table in any restaurant you want and there is no pressure to book in advance.
Just to mention our top 3 restaurants with great experience:
For a local and lovely dinner, I can 100% recommend you the place: Osteria Mocenigo.
The pasta here is great and their house wine even better :)). We sat in the backyard and felt extremely local with all the Italians around us.
The next day we had a n amazing lunch at Ristorante Lineadombra. The view is already worth paying for. With a negroni in your hand you cannot ask for more.
However, when the food arrives we were even more amazed by this place. The food is delicious and more than I would ever expect. It is quite pricy, nevertheless, it is worth it.
Another great place, also really recommendable for vegetarians, is La Zucca. From pumpkin dishes to pasta and hummus you can fall in love with every dish.
Concluding, Venice is definitely worth a visit and we recommend you to visit as soon as possible to avoid the packed tourists. The city feels like living in another era and if you have the opportunity we really encourage you to visit this amazing place.
Feel free to contact us for any questions.