Venice Carnevale: A Winter Day Trip from Padova
I have a love-hate relationship with Venice. Ok, I admit it. Mostly I hate it.
It’s a terrible thing to say about one of the world’s most unique places, but on the 2 occasions I’ve visited, the place was crawling with people, it was impossible to take a step in Piazza San Marco without bumping into another sweaty body, everything was grossly overpriced, and there was so much tourist trash on sale, my eyes started to bleed. And don’t even get me started on the rather interesting odour that permeates the entire city…
Ok, perhaps a bit harsh.
But when you have visions of romantic gondola rides on canals (by the way, it’s illegal for them to sing, so don’t even bother asking), eerily enveloped by mist and surrounded by gorgeous architecture, the reality can be a bit jarring.
And though it’s not quite Paris Syndrome, I did experience a fair bit of anxiety and tachycardia upon finding out how much they dared to charge for a scoop of gelato. 😉
Anywayyyy…the point of all that is that I finally visited Venice and liked it.
It wasn’t just because it happened to be Carnevale, when we descended upon the shrouded city, though seeing all those glorious costumes and decadent masks, definitely helped make the city feel just a little bit mysterious, the way I’d always dreamed it would be.
Mostly it was because there was enough physical and psychological space to actually feel the romance of the setting.
Coffee was still overpriced, kitschy merchandise still abounded, and service was still lackadaisical at best, but as we leisurely wandered through narrow alleyways, across stone bridges and next to watery roads, the afternoon slowly faded into night, and I could almost believe I was a renegade explorer discovering a magical, mystical city for the very first time.
Getting to Venice from Padova
From Padova’s Central Train Station, take a Regionale or Regionale Veloce train to Venezia Santa Lucia. Seats are unreserved and you can buy your ticket at the station for €4.05. Make sure to validate the ticket with a time/date stamp before boarding the train.
From Venezia Santa Lucia, you can take one of the vaporettos (€7.50) through the canals to your destination. The (rather expensive) ticket is good for 75 minutes from the time of validation. Head in the direction of Rialto Bridge for those iconic Venice views, otherwise you’ll mostly just see industry…probably not what you’re hoping for on your trip there.
It IS possible to walk from Santa Lucia into the touristy areas of the city, like Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge. It’ll take some time and you might get hopelessly lost (make sure you have google maps handy or you’ll DEFINITELY get lost since Venice is a maze of winding streets with an address system as old as time). We actually walked BACK to the train station at dusk, and it was a lovely way to see some less touristed parts of Venice.
I’ve stayed in nearby Padova on 2 of my 3 visits to Venezia, and since it’s a mere 20 minute train ride away from Venezia, I’d definitely recommend doing so if you’re on any kind of budget. Padova is a lovely city in it’s own right, with 3 separate city squares, 14th century frescoes by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel, and the huge 13th century Basilica of St. Anthony.
Have you ever visited Venice? When were you there? Did you enjoy it? What was your experience like?