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I am generally not a nervous driver but driving along the coast to La Spezia was petrifying. The roads again were super skinny and all that separated you from going over the cliff was a small guard rail. Not my idea of fun. I think I might have driven 20km’s an hour until we headed inland away from the coast. Other than that, the drive to Venice was pretty painless. We didn’t get lost once! Susan was way better with directions than me! I think it took us about 4 1/2 hours to get there. Except for the part from Vernazza to La Spezia, it was pretty much all highway.

We dropped off the rental car without issues but forgot to put gas in it. Luckily the Avis guy told us not to worry about it and wouldn’t charge us! Yah! We did a lot of driving and only had to fill the car up the once for 50 euros! Not bad!

The vaporetto was just across the street so we were able to get on one right away to take us to Lido. We decided to stay on Lido on a recommendation. The Lido is an 11km sandbar located in Venice. Most of the Adratic Sea side of Lido is a sandy beach where a lot of Italians tend to summer. It took about 20 minutes on the vaporetto to get to Lido and then had to find our hotel which was about a 20 min walk. When we got there, they looked at us blankly because although we had a reservation and I an email confirmation from them (which I was happy to provide), they did not have a reservation for us and nor did they have any room. She asked us what we would like her to do? Um, find us another room perhaps? Same price? Same star level? So she got on the phone and started calling hotels. All full! But finally came to one that was only 1 euro more a night. So if you are going to the Lido, my recommendation is to not book with Villa Stella or at the very least triple confirm your reservation.

The hotel that had room for us was back towards the vaporetto station so we dragged our suitcase once again back toward where we came from and easily found our hotel. Much to our surprise and delight, this new hotel was even closer to the beach and all the restaurants etc. So really, them not finding our reservation was a win!

Sue and I weren’t planning on heading into Venice that night so we hit the beach and went for a swim (grabbing beers on the way). I seriously love how there is no law against drinking in public in Italy!

By this time, it was around 6pm so we went back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We walked to the main strip on Lido and settled in for our meal. Wine? Of course!! And pasta! A wonderful salmon pasta. And this time we switched it up a little and went for the mussels appy instead of something with tomatoes and cheese! All so good! and filling!

 As we walked back to the hotel (while getting eaten alive by mosquitos) we saw a beautiful sunset!

In the morning, we got up bright and early and made our way to the vaporetto and to Venice’s, Piazza San Marco, where we immediately got in line for Saint Mark’s Basilica. It was still early enough that the crowds weren’t too big so we were still able to get some good pictures of the square without too many people.

It took us no time at all, once the cathedral was open, to make our way inside. You can tell why it is called “The church of gold”!

Another stunning church. The last one we would see in Italy. I really did enjoy each and everyone we saw. All so different and so beautiful!

We then headed straight to the Ponte di Rialto. I think that was the moment that my mouth dropped wide open and I realized I really was in Venice!

It pretty much was the coolest thing I had ever seen! I had to stand there a while and just take it all in. The rest of the day we just walked around Venice. Wandered down streets only to find out it went nowhere and would turn around. Some of the pictures below are from our adventures.

After a while we settled back in St. Mark’s Square and just chilled out. People watched. I napped. We had a while before we needed to be at the gondola dock so we just killed time. Did a little shopping. Had some pizza and beer. We were sitting in the park when the clouds started to get really dark and I heard thunder in the distance. Sue and I got out of the park and were walking back towards the square when the sky just opened up and the rain came down hard!

Everyone scrambled to take cover but a few kids who took the opportunity to cool off and have some fun. What a moment for everyone watching. Pure joy as they splashed around! I was happy to be able to capture it!

And just as fast as the rain started, it ended. Thank goodness! I was really concerned that our gondola ride would be cancelled but everything went right back to normal. Around 7pm we headed to where our gondola ride was leaving from. I was so excited as this was a total bucket list moment for me. I couldn’t wait for it. We wanted to go at sunset as we thought it would be cooler but also we would get better pictures! Was I ever right!

We were serenaded throughout as we moved our way down the Grand Canal and then in through some of the smaller water ways. I was incredibly moved! I had the biggest smile on my face throughout. And it didn’t hurt that there was a little eye candy in the way of the “hot gondalier”…

This was a perfect way to end our trip in Venice and it was a perfect way to spend our last night in Italy. What a trip. It was brilliant from start to finish. I can’t wait to go back!