After our walk around Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) the afternoon before, and realising that crowds are now slightly larger than they were 15 years ago when we last visited Venice, we decided our mantra for the trip would be “Get there at opening time”. For the ‘big ticket’ attractions, we would aim to get there early in the mornings and have a head start on some of the tour groups still partaking of their hotel buffet breakfasts.
With my body clock still on Melbourne time, I woke that first morning at 4am…but I waited until 6am before getting the girls up and dressed. Reception had given us a recommendation of a nearby bar where we could get coffees and pastries for breakfast, so we headed out close to 7am.
The ‘streets’ were very quiet. The gondolas were all in their parking spaces for the night.
We easily found Campo San Gallo and the recommended bar. We were the only customers, and the street cleaner was still sweeping the square while we sat eating our breakfast.
We wandered back to the apartment to brush our teeth and aimed to be at The Doge’s Palace for its 8am opening time.
Piazza San Marco, which had been teeming with people the afternoon before was totally devoid of crowds.
And even the gondoliers were nowhere to be seen. It was Sunday morning though. Perhaps they were at church.
At 8am we walked around the perimeter of The Doge’s Palace, as it wasn’t clear where the entrance was. Eventually I asked someone who looked official.
“It’s around the front,” he indicated. “But it doesn’t open until 8am.”
“8am?” I asked, pointing at my watch. “Isn’t it five past eight now?”
“No, no,” he said. “Seven o’clock.”
Somehow, both The Poolboy and I had managed to set our watches one hour ahead of Venice time.
We’d been up at 5am, and had breakfast in the square around 6am on a Sunday morning! No wonder we were getting strange looks. And, when we thought back…the restaurant the evening before had been fairly quiet for what we thought was 7pm.
So, we had an hour to spare wandering along the waterfront, enjoying the ‘quiet’ Venice before the crowds started to form.
It’s such a shame that they’ve completely enclosed the Bridge of Sighs in advertising billboards. I hope the revenue is going to something really worthwhile.
And yes, we were near the front of the queue for The Doge’s Palace at 8am.
More from Venice tomorrow…