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A Family’s Serene Time in Venice

By July 12, 2018 No Comments
Written By: Shane Nixon

Written By: Shane Nixon

Hello! I was a Sydney native but now live in Melbourne, as a database and sometimes web developer. We spend as much time travelling as possible. Wanderlust is defined as ``an irresistible urge to travel`` and that pretty much sums us up to a T. If we aren't on the journey we are planning one.

Our next guest article is by travelling dad Shane Nixon from @shaneonthego – Shane often pairs his very impressive images with witty and downright hilarious commentary.

Shane recently travelled to Venice and in keeping with this months’ Italy Theme is sharing his experience travelling with his family on this floating ancient island.

A Families Serene Time in Venice

It is a deadset maze in the back canals of the Cannaregio region of Venezia where we were staying. The first couple of times going to and from our apartment were… challenging. We brought a pram with us because the little fella often gets tired. I don't know if he got a tired as his parents who lifted him and pram up and over 235,566 bridges and stairs everyday. It must have been like being on a throne or something because every time we got either side of the pram and carted him up stairs or over a bridge he'd exclaim "I'm the baby king!" Every time. You'd think it would get old quickly but no, we laughed every single time. And then collapse in an exhausted heap. ♔😂 Speaking of pram. I wonder where we left him here. I see Michelle and Georgia and I'm taking the picture… hmm . . #travelwithkids #travelingwithkids #europeanvacation #eurotrip #aussiekidsineurope #aussiekids #kidsphotography  #outandaboutwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #beautifuldestinations #topeuropephoto #igerseurope #living_europe #igersveneto #igersvenezia #ig_veneto #ig_venezia #ig_venice #igersitalia #igersitaly #ig_italia #ig_italy #italy #italia #venice #venezia #veneziaunica  #veneziacityitalia  #visitvenato

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Venice is a called the La Serenissima for a reason. If you pick the right time to go it can be downright serene and peaceful. In the summertime though you may wonder where that nickname came from. For families that need a little space consider going in the winter or the shoulder seasons – spring or autumn. Not only is it cheaper you won’t accidentally be pushed into a canal by a passing horde of day trippers. I’m kidding, that almost never happens. The only exception to the offseason serenity is during Carnival. For a few weeks in February the streets of Venice are alive with masked costumed revellers and tourists.

For the laid-back traveller though Venice is a stroller’s delight. Families with strollers, or prams, may beg to differ when they encounter their first stepped bridge. But if you have a system in place, basically carrying your little Principe or Principessa over each obstacle, most of the way is easy. Our youngest exclaimed to the world that he was “the baby king” every time he was carried in his stroller over a bridge. Really though, half of Europe’s old towns can be challenging with strollers. Venice isn’t an exception.


Georgia Jumps In Front Of Stuff! This time in front of Marco's Piazza, Basilica and Campanile to say farewell La bella Venezia e Italia. Sadly we have to move on. Back to Austria and Salzburg. It was a lovely taste of Italy after being away for 12 years and a perfect way to introduce the kids to Italy. Pity it was so cold. The chill really bites when the wind howls up the canals. But frozen Venezia is better than no Venezia. 🍷🍕☕🍺❄⛄🎭 No pigeons were squashed making this photo but I can't promise that excess pigeons weren't photoshopped out… 😘🐥 . . #travelwithkids #travelingwithkids #europeanvacation #eurotrip #aussiekidsineurope #aussiekids #outandaboutwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #beautifuldestinations #topeuropephoto #igerseurope #living_europe #igersveneto #igersvenezia #ig_veneto #ig_venezia #ig_venice #igersitalia #igersitaly #ig_italia #ig_italy #italy #italia #venice #venezia #veneziaunica  #veneziacityitalia  #visitvenato #georgiajumpsinfrontofstuff

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Even in the busy times, quieter areas abound. If you stroll through the areas of the Cannaregio on the north side of the Grand Canal or San Polo on the south side, for just two examples, there is some lovely site seeing to be found. There are pretty canals and bridges, piazzas and churches away from crowded Rialto and Piazza San Marco areas. You’re more likely to find hidden gems like cafés and bars and trattoria. This is where you’ll find Cicchetti. Small snacks similar to Spanish tapas. The San Polo region near the Rialto is particularly good for Cicchetti. They are fantastic for a snack or if you order multiple plates, a great meal. Seafood is a speciality but you will find something for even the fussiest of eaters. Some craftspeople still work in the back alleys making masks or blowing glass and may even have a viewing window where you can watch them at work. If you do find a glass blower at work you’ve just saved yourself the effort of a trip across the lagoon to Murano.

Get lost in the back alleys and canals either side of the Grand Canal. When you have plenty of time it is barely frustrating and may even be fun. However, if you’re running late for a restaurant reservation your definition of fun may vary. You’ll usually find arrows at intersections pointing to either the Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco. It only gets confusing when arrows point in opposite directions directing you to the same place. The kids will love to explore and they will think you know where you’re going. And you will. Sort of. Buy Panini or a slices of pizza and sit on a bridge or in a piazza and watch the world go by. You’ll figure out which way to go eventually.

@michellesphotostyle finally getting to pose in a photo with The Baby King. Like most royalty he is particular about with who or even if he we will pose. At least it was for a photo at an icon of iconic places – Ponte di Rialto. 20 years ago we stayed at the Rialto Hotel next to the bridge. Nowadays private rental accommodation is more our style. Well, that and the fact the double room was affordable off peak back then. Now even off peak hotel rooms are a bit too expensive for a family of 4. 📷💶🀄👑🎭 . . #travelwithkids #travelingwithkids #europeanvacation #eurotrip #aussiekidsineurope #aussiekids #wearetravelmums #outandaboutwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #beautifuldestinations #topeuropephoto #igerseurope #living_europe #igersveneto #igersvenezia #ig_veneto #ig_venezia #ig_venice #igersitalia #igersitaly #ig_italia #ig_italy #italy #italia #venice #venezia #veneziaunica  #veneziacityitalia  #visitvenato

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You don’t have to pay 12 Euros for a cappuccino on Piazza San Marco. Seriously, who does that? Actually, it probably is one of those special once in a lifetime experiences that is worth every cent if your budget runs that far. But once you’re away from the crowds in Piazza San Marco you’ll find cafés and pasticceria, pastry shops, which are very reasonably priced. The coffee will be better too. But this is Italy. Coffee is almost always perfect. So is the hot chocolate. There is nothing like a rich creamy thick Italian hot chocolate. The pastries and sweet treats are second to none. Your family has to try fritole – Venetian donuts. Deep fried balls of donut goodness with pine nuts and raisins folded into the dough. Some are filled with custard cream or apple or chocolate custard. Traditionally fritole is a Carnival treat but there are pasticceria which have extended availability leading up to and beyond Carnival.

Don’t let me put you off Piazza San Marco. True that is where the tourist hordes hang but it is also one of the best places in Venice for the kids to run around. Pigeon chasing can keep them busy for ages. You don’t need to buy pigeon feed. There’s more than enough bird food flying around to attract millions and millions… and millions of pigeons. Actually if you have a bird phobia maybe peek into the piazza from an alley beforehand. Ironically you can feed the birds in Piazza San Marco but as soon as you start to feed yourself officialdom may step in and ask you to move on. Of course, snacks at cafes selling 12 euro coffees are the exception.

The Bridge of Sighs, or more beautifully in Italian, Ponte dei Sospiri. So called because when people crossed it they'd look out the windows at their beautiful city and all the people in masks enjoying the carnivale and certainly not dying from the plague or anything horrible like torture or being left to rot in a prison and they'd sigh with satisfaction. Actual conversation from 1573. "Sigh. I love our city man." "Sigh, it is beautiful isn't it." "Sigh, I love you dude." "Sigh, I love you too man." "Sigh." "Sigh." . . #travelwithkids #travelingwithkids #europeanvacation #eurotrip #aussiekidsineurope #aussiekids #guardiantravelsnaps #outandaboutwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #beautifuldestinations #topeuropephoto #igerseurope #living_europe #igersveneto #igersvenezia #ig_veneto #ig_venezia #ig_venice #igersitalia #igersitaly #ig_italia #ig_italy #italy #italia #venice #venezia #veneziaunica  #veneziacityitalia  #visitvenato

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You can walk just about anywhere in Venice but for longer trips consider the Vaporetti. They cruise up and down the Grand Canal and to the other islands in the lagoon. Cheaper than a gondola ride but probably not as romantic. You couldn’t hear O Sole Mio over the engine noise if someone did choose to serenade you anyway. One of our favourite ferry rides was around the lagoon to the car park via the route we hadn’t been before. Who knew a ferry ride to a car park could be so gratifying?

If you do take a gondola ride you’ll be pleased to know it won’t cost you any more with your tribe of up to 4 kids than if you took a romantic ride for two. A gondola may not be as romantic with the family along for the ride but it is quieter than chugg chugg chugging along in a Vaporetto. There is romance and there is romantic. When you’re down some of the quieter canals all you will hear is the lapping of water and the occasional Italian talk shows blaring from someone’s TV. Yes, some people are lucky enough to live here. A stroll along some of these smaller canals can be as rewarding as a gondola ride though.

Righto everybody don't forget where we parked… we're outside the Doges Palace. As an aside, I'd wander around randomly saying "Yo Doge". I don't know why but in my head I was having a great old time. Anyway, there are so many gondolas in Venezia. It's like they were invented here or something. 😜 I wonder if gondaliers jump on to the wrong one occasionally? They're all black, have red seats and are covered with blue tarp. I spent 10 minutes trying to unlock a white Camry once because it was parked next to mine. Oops. So another photographic icon ticked off; the line of gondolas parked outside of the Palazzo Ducale. Can you really say you've been to Venezia if you didn't take this photo? It would be like not taking a gondola ride on any of your visits to this beautiful city over the last 20 years. Embarrassed cough. Next time maybe… 😆 . . #travelwithkids #travelingwithkids #europeanvacation #eurotrip #aussiekidsineurope #aussiekids #guardiantravelsnaps #outandaboutwithkids #familytravel #familyvacation #beautifuldestinations #topeuropephoto #igerseurope #living_europe #igersveneto #igersvenezia #ig_veneto #ig_venezia #ig_venice #igersitalia #igersitaly #ig_italia #ig_italy #italy #italia #venice #venezia #veneziaunica  #veneziacityitalia  #visitvenato

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You should consider staying in a rental apartment too. Not only are they reasonably priced compared to hotels, especially for families, they are often in residential areas like the Cannaregio. There, I’ve mentioned it again. The Cannaregio. True it is a large area of Venice but it is a lovely area to stay and wander. Forget I mentioned Italian talk shows blaring from TVs earlier.

Venice can be so rewarding for families. There is so much to do there. And, there is so much you don’t have to do. Relax, chill and enjoy the ambience. There is plenty of time to visit the palaces and museums next time. We’ve been three times and feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface. It isn’t as if Venice is going to sink anytime soon. Wait? What?

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