I had wanted to visit Venice for a long time but for numerous reasons had never got around to going. What a mistake! I’ve visited lots of cities and really enjoyed some but Venice is totally unique and like nowhere  else I’ve been. It’s one of very few cities that have lived up to and exceeded my expectations.

View from the roof top bar of the Hilton

I stayed on Giudecca, which is a long thin collection of eight islands, separated from the main island of Venice by the canal of the same name. If you like to stay somewhere quiet, it’s a great location, while visiting Venice. It’s close enough to all of the main sites and attractions but is a lot quieter and more relaxing than the main island.

Canal on Giudecca

Giudecca’s very residential. While you’ll find a number of hotels on the island, it’s also home to the local Venetian residents. The Fondamenta is the main ‘street’ running the length of Giudecca and is home to numerous delicatessens, coffee shops and so on. the views across the canal to Venice from here are fabulous.

View of Venice from Giudecca

Giudecca started life as a fishing village around 500 AD. Soon market gardens followed and eventually, during the 19th century, it became an upscale address full of grand homes. Hungry for land (a commodity lacking in Venice) the Industrial Age added shipyards, factories and even a movie studio to the sprawling estates.

I enjoyed wandering around the island and exploring the small canals and side streets and watching the local way of life, which is so different to what I’m used to. Cars are replaced by boats for everything from doing the shopping to deliveries and emptying the bins. The street signs painted onto the walls and little nooks with religious statues caught my eye. These small details that intrigued me, as well as the grand views and good food.

Like everywhere else I’ve been in Italy, you can tell that Venice is an old city. Not because it’s dilapidated or run down. the city has a patina to it, old buildings are everywhere you go and there is very little modern reconstruction. When you’re walking through the streets, it’s easy to imagine what life must have been like hundreds of years ago.

Nooks on the side of the church

The Hilton hotel on Giudecca has a roof top bar with outdoor terraces that you can sit out on in the summer. The food and cocktails are good and it has great views over the city beyond. If you like Italian food, there are some great places to eat on the island but my favourite was the Bacaromi restaurant at the Hilton Hotel