All Photos Taken By Me
Please do not steal any!
Objective: Find the Apple of Eden.
Wow, what a beautiful place to visit!- "Seriously, what a beautiful city!"
To start things off, there was only one reason I wanted to visit Venice (in the first place) and that was because Assassin's Creed II advertised the place so well. I started playing it in 2010, but didn't instantly fall in love with the game. Instead, it took some time for me to appreciate it. Eventually, virtual Italy got to me and I was amazed how beautiful historic Italy was represented. One of the final areas to unlock is Venice, and the game allows the player to roam it's virtual environment freely. Of course, it wasn't to scale, but the atmosphere and layout always intrigued me. In addition, every location available attracted my eye, but I never imagined ever visiting the real place, since I was a teenager at the time and had no interest in traveling the world.
However, since 2020, I've been on a mission to complete my bucket list, which means I wanted to return to my teenage years and complete anything I was unable to do back then. On the list, Assassin's Creed II was there, since I was originally unable to 100% the game. In 2021, I booked Venice on a whim and just decided to go for it, but in the meantime; I wanted to 100% the Venecian themed game. Alas, this was when I really fell in love with virtual Venice, and was hyped to vist the real thing.
So, a video game was the ultimate advertisement?- "Is this true?"
Yes, yes, it was indeed. But also, the Italian language has always been interesting to me. In the game (and the sequels), the characters mix sentences in English and Italian, which always enhanced the dialogue to me. It added needed charm and fit the characters in with the country they are from. I kinda had a goal to do the same upon visiting Italy.
AC2 also featured other Italian cities. The sequel featured Rome. However, I wanted my first visit to Italy to be utterly unique, and I predicted Venice would offer such an experience. It's prone to flooding, is primarily pedestrian and is full of interesting locales for photography. In other words, Venice is a place full of wonderous interest!
LOOK AT THIS VIEW!
Honestly, the picture DOES NOT do this any justice. You NEED to go to Venice to experience this sight. Now this is pod racin- *AHEM* Assassin's Creed II! The inner Ezio Auditore Da Firenze screamed inside me at this point. Every roof looked 'jumpable' and the real beauty of the lagoon city was on full view up St. Mark's Campanile. At this moment I was a member of the creed and nobody could stop that (if they even cared).
But I'll return to this view a bit later. For now, let's focus on the smaller details. There's a lot to talk about.
From the start -
"Let's talk about each district"
At first, I thought Venice was a huge city to explore, but in reality it's pretty small. The maze like layout is what makes the place feel huge. Seriosuly though, the city is a big maze, but that's one of the most interesting things about the place, since almost every corner has a surprise around it.
I arrived at Marco polo Airport and fetched a boat over to Cannarégio, since my hotel was somewhere in that district.
Riding passenger in a boat, from the airport, to the city is a unique experience and a flashy way to travel. Although normal in Venice, to me, this was traveling in style! I loved it!
I really underestimated how dependant people are on boats in this location. Makes sense really. But, there was no way I was going to fetch a bus, or taxi, when a boat was on offer.
Thankfully, the weather was on my side upon arrival. I was dreading torrential rainfall and the expected flooding. Spoiler alert: there was no floodding during the days I visited, which I actually wanted to see, if I'm honest. 'Til next time!
Gotta be honest, there isn't a lot to say about this Venetian district. I didn't walk around here a lot, even though my hotel was located here. Is it just me, or do you also lose focus on areas near your hotel when you travel? Maybe it's just me, but I'm so focussed on getting to my destinations that anything near the 'starting line' is overlooked. The main attractions were nearer to San Marco, San Polo and Castello. Despite this, for what I did capture, there's still beauty to behold along the way.
One of the more residential districts, Cannarégio offers a peaceful alternative enjoying Venice. There's less hustle and more opportunities to appreciate the tranquility Venice can deliver. Quiet views of the canals, small squares outside churches and less tourists to bump into. This applies mainly to the north-eastern section of the district, whereas more western and southern areas can advertise the more 'touristy' side of Venice. It's mianly a matter of picking the right corners to take when it comes to Venice. You'll understand if you've been.
I came across some photogenic areas, but I amagine there's a lot more I missed out on. Thankfully, the evenings I did walk through here delivered vibrant skylines which blended in with the warm colours the buildings had to offer. Lovely, blue canals contrasted excellently with such colours.
I stayed at the Hotel Il Di Venezia, which was located near the train station and Ponte Degli Scalzi (the big, stone bridge above). Pretty nice hotel, with friendly staff, but was far away from San Marco (and the other attractions I wanted to see). Thankfully, Venice doesn't take a long time to navigate around if you know where to go. Also, what's wrong with walking anyway? Half the fun of a solo trip is the travel.
The bridge is a fantastic sight to see upon leaving the hotel and super handy when finding a main route to San Marco. When leaving the hotel, if I turned left I'd come across this bridge. To the left of my hotel, I had the rest of Cannarégio. On my limited travel in the district, I also came across this cool, small bridge (to the right) without any railing. Every bridge is expected to have some form of safety railing, but this privately owned bridge is exempt from that, making it a decent tourist distraction and hidden bit of minor history. Besides this, I think it's been in a few Italian films too. This is the only bridge like this, besides another on another island nearby.
I should also say; when I fist got off the boat, I was amazed by how historic Venice looked. I mean, the colours on display alone impressed me. Of course, I was shattered after spending the majority of the day in airports and on different forms of transport, but even as I rushed to the hotel, I had to soak in the iconic atmosphere on offer. Truly amazing stuff everywhere I looked!
San Polo & Rialto Bridge
One of my favourite districts, if I'm honest, because of the atmosphere alone. It's bustling with tourists, but has so much to show. Restaurants are just everywhere. Especially following near the Grand Canal. Rialto Bridge (to the left) was also a somewhat cool attraction. I dunno, the bridge was rather underwhelming. I expected it to be bigger and feature more stuff on it, but it's just full of shops in the middle of the three lanes, while the side lanes just offer views of the canal. Yes, the views are great, but after seeing over 100 other views of different canals, I expected something more amazing for the hype the bridge gets. Maybe that's just me.
Of course, parts of Spider-Man: Far From Home were filmed in Venice. The Rialto Bridge (Ponte Di Rialto) is notably where Mysterio is introduced as he flies over the bridge, while Peter is scaling it. After visiting the bridge, I can safely say it wouldn't empty THAT quickly, even if there is a giant water monster attacking it. It's always so busy on the side Peter is punched into! I know this, because I had to walk across it so many times to get anywhere.
Compared to other buildings in Venice, I think the bridge could have been more detailed. You see, this is the thing in Venice; there's so much detail packed into almost every notable building aorund the city that when one of the landmarks features a bit less detail, it stands out a bit. Yes, the bridge was a highlight, but in comparison to everything else, it wasn't as much of a stand out.
On the other hand, I guess I travelled here solo, so the romantic aspect was ignored by me at the time. Knowing that, I can see why other travellers may see more in it than I did, since the view of the Grand Canal can indeed be spectacular during all times of the day, but especially at night when the warm lights reflect over the surface of the canal water.
The photo (to the right) is one of my favourite photos from the trip. As always, I take multiple shots of each location, so there's variations of this photo, but the final shot of the bunch welcomed this seagull into the scene. I love it! Thank you, smelly bird.
Copyright Sony Entertainement/ Marvel Studios/ Walt Disney Studios
San Polo itself is scattered with tourist friendly shops and restaurants. Although mainly expensive, it's worth visiting what's available. You're in Venice after all. In the day, I got pestered by people offering roses (expecting payment in return, of course) and there were a few West African immigrants(?) who'd approach me asking for money. I mean, they were kind and could have been legit (being 2022), but it's always best to be careful in case of pickpockets and criminals in general in cities. Venice is full of tight alleyways, so it's always possible for crime to occur. I'd also see some older women begging for money, while kneeling and facing the ground, and it's always difficult to tell if anyone like this is legit or not. Similarly to my home city, Liverpool, I wish I could help out, but it's often best not to. There's definitely beggers who need help, but I've encountered so many who abuse the role in some way and I often find it best to not help, which is really sad to say. As a solo traveller, I have to put myself first, especially in foreign countries.
I do have to say this though. These encounters only happened during one day. It appears like the police aren't frequent, and CCTV cameras aren't about, but I wager there's undercover cops everywhere, since I hardly came across any danger during my journey. I walked around at night a lot, and I still felt safe. Thankfully, the majority of people in Venice happen to be tourists, and even at midnight they're everywhere (equally as lost as me, but with suitcases).
Honestly though, I seriously loved walking around San Polo. Every time I tried to take photos I got distracted by the atmosphere. The welcoming routes, warm colours of the environment and general happiness of the people all around make for a really relaxing, yet fun experience just walking around.
Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
One of my favourite attractions in San Polo was visiting this hidden gem of a museum. It took a bit of exploring to find it, but it was definitely worth it. Especially for €8. Even though this museum (sadly) doesn't feature any official artwork, models or journal entries, but for the knowledge on display, I found a lot of worth in learning some really (REALLY) interesting shit about Da Vinci.
"I thought it was a
HE ALSO BUILT GLIDERS!
"I thought Assassin's Creed made it up for gameplay!"
"This is also a real invention!"
THAT'S A BIKE!
"YEAAAH.. I mean... Not as exciting as the rest, but still kinda cool?"
The museum was pretty small, but still had a lot to show. I'd highly recommend visiting if you want to learn some surprising facts about the man. It even advertises where to find some original pieces of his work. I will be visiting London soon to find the official journey entries and such. Honestly though, I had no idea how much care was put into representing Da Vinci's work in the Assassin's Creed games, to which don't even feature a heck of a lot of his work. But I have to say, it was definitely interesting learning he invented the tank, many surgical tools, forms of suspension bridges and all sorts. His list doesn't end! I didn't even talk about his artwork and how he'd write with both hands at once, sometimes in mirror reverse. His own journals were an enigma to outsiders.