Gondolas, Exploring, and Shopping

Pisa Centrale to Venezia Santa Lucia (Venice, Main Station)
(1 Transfer at Firenze Santa Maria Novella)
Travel Time: 3h 38 min
Total: €76,60
Total per person: €38,30

Sam and I actually went to Venice after our Siena day trip. We went back to our Airbnb from Siena and took the last train leaving Pisa to Venice. It’s roughly a four-hour train ride so we arrived in Venice pretty late. When you get to Venezia Santa Lucia, you need to take the vaporetto to actually get to the main square in Venice.

TIP #1:
Vaporetto One-Way: €7,50

As soon as we got to St Mark’s square, one of the orchestras in front of the cafes started playing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, which was honestly very heartwarming. Sam was born and raised in New York but she moved to Amsterdam for over a year so I’m sure she missed NYC quite a bit. Our Airbnb host was incredibly accommodating and allowed us to check in pretty late. He met us at the square and took us to the flat so we wouldn’t get lost. The location was perfect since it was only two blocks away from the square and was pretty safe. Sadly, after our two days in Venice, Sam and I parted ways as she headed back to Amsterdam.

2 Nights in Venice
Calle Larga San Marco, 423 #5
Venezia, Veneto Italy 30124
Total: $285 (for 2 people)
Total per person: $142.50

Our first day in Venice was spent exploring shops and walking around the city and riding the infamous gondola! Gondola rides should be purchased online in advance to avoid paying exhorbitant prices on-site. We spent less than $40 per person but the rides on-site are priced at €80 (approximately $100) for two people!

TIP #2:
Gondola: $35.36
You can purchase tickets here for roughly the same price

Our gondola ride was on my bucket list for so long and it felt like a dream that I was actually in Venice! When I was a kid, I read these children’s mystery series called “The Magic Treehouse Series” and one of the first books was set in Venice during the Carnevale. Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to visit this magical place. For centuries, this city has been incredibly wealthy as its prime location made it perfect for merchants to take part in lucrative trades. One of the most important centers for commerce, Venice is also known for its role in the Renaissance Period, especially for symphonic and operatic music. It was my first time seeing a place without any roads with just bridges and canals for access around the city. One of the oldest bridges in Venice is the Rialto Bridge. It was built in 1588 and is perhaps one of the most famous bridges in the world. It’s definitely a perfect place to take that Instagram photo!

TIP #3:
Those who live outside of the EU can shop tax-free! Once you spend the minimum amount at eligible stores, you fill out a form with your passport with an approval from the retailer. VAT varies from 20-25% for non-EU residents

Venice is also a great place for shopping! One thing to note about countries with the European Union is that if you live outside the EU, you are eligible for tax-free shopping! Most stores participate in tax-free shopping (like Global Blue) where you purchase the minimum amount to be eligible, and you can go to the airport, get a stamp from customs, and file a refund to get the taxes back! Sam actually convinced me to buy a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s iconic OTK boots and since I was going to receive 11% back in taxes, I ended up buying them and have been obsessed with them since!

We ventured through a lot of stores: Gianni Basso (letterpress) and Legateria (paper store), JB Guanti (leather gloves), and  Ca’ Macana (Venetian Carnevale Masks). I ended up buying a pair of black leather gloves with cashmere lining since it was on sale and bought one of the iconic Carnevale masks as a souvenir. I found a small store owned by this old grandpa that handmade every single mask and sold them for only 10€! We also ended up at Caffe Florian, the oldest café in Italy. Founded in 1720, they have really good coffee and biscuits – perfect for an afternoon snack! I would also recommend buying some trinkets made out of Murano glass – it’s special to Venice and absolutely beautiful.

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