Venice has to be one of the most iconic cites in the World. We’d had it on our list of “to go to” places for some time and couldn’t wait to get to see this canal-ridden metropolis for ourselves. But, would we get the sinking feeling from driving to this famous destination in a van? Or would visiting Venice in a Campervan be a perfect way to see this incredible city?
Usually, we avoid staying on campsites. Instead, we prefer to make use of the very convenient Italian Sosta system. This being the same principal to French Motorhome Aires.
This trip was however a little different. As part of a larger tour of Northern Italy, we’d arranged to meet our Son at Marco Polo airport in Venice. He’d then join us for a 5 night stay, making use of our 2-man tent that we carry on board!
This meant a campsite was needed. Also, we wanted to stay within easy reach of all the main sights. So felt it more secure to have a campsite stay, regardless of our Son joining us.
After checking out the options, we booked in to Camping Fusina, at Fusina. Located just across the lagoons from the center of Venice, it turned out to be a perfect choice for visiting Venice in a campervan.
Camping Fusina was a perfect location
This trip was part of a 7 week tour of Northern Italy. Our approach to Camping Fusina took us along the Brenta Canal, a route renowned for it’s large Venetian villa’s. Luckily, it was market day, as we drove through the bustling town of Mira. Here we stopped to stock up on some local cheeses, before arriving at Camping Fusina, a little further along.
Finding the campsite was easy enough and access was very good. After checking in, we found a shady spot to pitch up under the trees.
Later in the evening, it was time to drive off to Marco Polo Airport. Unfortunately, despite the campsite offering a mini-bus service to and from the airport, it had finished for the evening.
Finding the airport and parking was also rather straight forward and within easy distance of the camp site.
After collecting our Son, we headed back and prepared ourselves for an early start the next morning.
We were able to buy a one day return ticket for the ferry at the campsite reception for 13 Euro each. Although, for 28 Euro, we could buy a 72 hour ticket, but only from the ferry terminal.
The 9am ferry from Fusina was a delight, taking just 20 minutes, the leisurely journey glided across the water towards the main sights of the city. We found it a perfect way to approach.
With maps in hand, after stepping off the ferry, we found ourselves immersed in the incredible architecture that is Venice. Taking a walking route from our map, we were soon absorbed in the intricate alleyways and famous canal network.
This city is full of life, water taxis, gondolas, highly polished wooden boats mix with the essentials of city life. Cargo boats of every description ferry goods around the waterways.
Walking miles, our feet needed a rest! Grabbing a coffee and quick lunch proved reasonable enough. Once we were off the main vista’s prices seemed acceptable and no different to any other city.
We soon had our first glimpse of the main attractions as St Mark’s Square came into view. The architecture is superb, with the fabulous Piazza San Marco, forming the springboard for the array of magnificent buildings. However, large queues formed at the big name historic sights here, so these we decided to leave until the day-trippers had departed.
Fortunately, by late afternoon, crowds were dwindling. Therefore, we took our chance at the Bell Tower or Campanile. Entering the designated lift, we were whizzed up to the top, where fabulous views opened out across Venice from high above the Piazza below.
It’s hard to imagine Galileo demonstrating his telescope from here, back in 1609! Even more unreal, was the fact that the original tower collapsed in 1902, completely without warning! Fortunately, the tower we see today replaced the original, opening in 1912 with stronger foundations!
That was enough sightseeing for one day, so we headed back to the ferry for an early night!
After catching the 10am ferry, we decided to do the one thing you just have to do in Venice! Of course, that’s a Gondola ride!
These are everywhere and it took us a while to decide on where exactly to take our ride from. Eventually, after walking the narrow streets, we settled on the Rialto Bridge.
Wanting a rather opulent looking Gondola, we had to wait for something rather elegant to come our way. At 80 Euro for a 30 minute ride, we wanted the best looking gondola we could find!
To avoid tourists paying over the odds, all the gondola rides have a strict set price for the time limit. This is reassuring, so at least you know you couldn’t find it cheaper elsewhere. Our ride was so relaxing, gliding through the narrow canals, passing the historic buildings was just a joy. In fact, I think we could have stayed there all day!
As lunch time approached, we decided to take the ferry back to Fusina and lunch back at the van.
After a bit of a break, we returned to the splendors of Venice for the early evening. Proving an ideal time to return, once the crowds of day-trippers had left, leaving a more calm Venice for us to explore.
We couldn’t believe our eyes, as we strolled through St.Mark’s Square, we noticed no queue at all for the big tourist pull of the Doges’ Palace. Walking straight in to the ticket desk, we were amazed to be able to enjoy this incredible building almost alone.
The artwork here is phenomenal, with the most beautiful frescoes, sculptures and architecture. The best part for us, came as we crossed the famous Bridge Of Sighs. A covered stone passageway leads from inside the palace to the prison where inmates would sigh as they were walking to serve their sentence.
A little fun was had as we waved to tourists on their gondola rides in the canal below, tiny slits in the stone walls on the bridge allowed just enough room for our hands to catch their attention.
We were to spend a good couple of hours here at the palace. Finishing off the evening, we decided on a relaxing canal side restaurant for food and wine, before taking our 10.30 ferry boat back to base.
As our 3rd day came about, we felt some sort of musical interlude would be welcome.
Wondering leisurely around, we soon found temporary museums being held at several different churches. One in particular was just delightful, full of information on artists, composers and interesting pieces on Vivaldi, including a selection of his musical instruments.
We really wanted to visit the La Fenice theatre, a masterpiece of ornate architecture and opulence. On realising there was a performance of an orchestra later in the day, we splashed out on tickets and returned at 5pm for the start.
Our 35 Euro top tier seats were really poor! After just about managing to sit through the first half with no view from up in the gods, we decided to complain. Luckily, the staff promptly re-located us to the stalls, where we enjoyed the second half in relative luxury!
The theatre is just a sheer display of golden opulence, completely beautiful in design and so ornate with boxed enclosures surrounding the centre. The symphony or music itself was not to our style, but none the less it was a lovely treat in beautiful surroundings. The theatre tour alone was 10 Euro, so it was good value to take in a performance for a small amount extra.
Venice is really poor for seating, they certainly don’t want tourist’s sitting around! For us, church steps had to do as a quick rest stop. It’s a bit of a nuisance, as it’s so exhausting walking round all day and we didn’t always want a drink stop or coffee.
For a fast track to the incredible building of Basilica di San Marco, we headed to the tourist office in St.Marks Square to buy our 3 Euro ticket.
This was worth every penny to beat the long queue out in the heat of the July sun. Thankfully, the lady who served us, reminded us that shoulders must be covered with a shawl. So, popping into Zara, I managed to buy a suitable one before entering the amazing Basilica itself.
Covered in gold mosaics, the interior is breathtaking in its beauty. It was a good job I’d bought a shawl, as otherwise, they sold paper ones at the entrance for 2 Euro each! It’s also worth knowing that no clothing is allowed if it’s above the knee.
For incredible views across Venice and to see St.Marks Square from above, we paid for entry to the Terrace and museum. The other big benefit of doing this was to see the gold mosaics up close, as we climbed the stone staircase to the top of the building.
Walking the narrow canal side streets across Venice, lead us to the Murano ferry stop. Here we found a really quirky book store with its own gondola and an external staircase made from books!
The boat to Murano took about 10 minutes. On arrival we took an opportunity to take a look at some glass blowing. Murano is famous for the old glass blowing technique and there are a few free factory visits to choose from.
Murano is actually a series of islands connected by bridges, these are famous for glass blowing but it all becomes a bit repetitive. However there are some lovely colourful buildings and it does make a welcome change of scenery.
For our last day, we headed to the Correr Museum in St.Marks Square. This was included with our ticket for the Doges’ Palace and it was well worth a visit.
It’s a labyrinth of ancient sculptures, paintings and artefacts, with so much there to see. We felt a bit rushed in the end, as we had run out of time in this incredible city.
Unfortunately for us, our time was up! Having to take our son back to the airport we left Venice and Camping Fusina behind.
I have to say, this Venice visit had been incredible! No funny smells, plenty of sights to keep us occupied and an array of historic architecture and relics, which we found fascinating.
Camping Fusina had been ideal for us. Apart from the menacing mosquitoes here and throughout Venice, it couldn’t have been better.
5 nights had certainly been enough! We’d walked our feet off and couldn’t have spent much longer in the centre. Everything in Venice is fairly intricate. Narrow streets and canals everywhere mean that getting lost is fairly standard practice!
It’s a big city with lots of places to keep you entertained. However, if you’re not a history buff or lover of fine historic buildings, then maybe this isn’t the place for you!
We visited in July, before the school holidays. Temperatures were high but not unbearable. We learnt to avoid times when the Cruise Ships were in dock, the tourist office had information on this.
We loved it! It’s one of those “must see” places ticked off the list and worth every penny. If it’s true what they say and if it does disappear beneath the sea, then we’ll certainly be glad to have been privileged enough to see it in all its glory.