Venice away from the Grand Canal

We have been fortunate enough to visit Venice more than once, and every time we have experienced something new. The centre of Venice is a unique experience all on its own. Anywhere you go, anywhere you look, it seems as though you’re in a never ending open air museum. A museum for which someone has forgotten to draw a guide!. The first time you enter this “museum” you head straight to the main attraction but you start to wonder- was that really the ‘main attraction’?. As you walk through all the hidden alleys and passageways, you see more and more beautiful sites and you think that has to be it, until you see the next one. This is what we’ve found on every occasion that we visit.

We have done a fair amount of walking in Venice. We didn’t plan where to go or what to see, we wanted to discover it as we walked. In that way it felt as if we were truly discovering, rather than ticking off the places from the bucket list.

Tip: The next time you visit any place consider this approach to sightseeing. Leave the map, any research or “must see lists” for the next time. In our experience, this has allowed us to have our eyes open a little wider, and we didn’t miss anything on our way to “the main attraction”.

You naturally follow other tourists to main sites as this is where most people go. Sites on and around the Grand Canal especially attract a large number of visitors. There are also some places where “gondola” ride loses some of its charm due to the “traffic” , because remember, this is a real city: there are other boats on the canals too!

Venice canal traffic
Tip: Normally places with most tourists are -no surprise here- made for tourists. For us it means that whatever the country, town or place, it does not feel real. These sites are built to accommodate hordes of people, while other interesting places don’t appear on tourists’ maps or even have no public access- and it’s precisely these places that are the most interesting to us.

But there’s an exception to every rule, and this time was the exception. When finding our way in Venice, in the very centre of the old town we stumbled upon a place called “I Musici Veneziani”. A well-dressed man stood in front of the entrance, as if it were an expensive hotel. When we bought our tickets for the concert, we were not expecting much. After all, it was one of the main tourist attractions there.

Venice – I Musici Veneziani entrance

After we took our seats, the place looked as original as it gets. There were painted ceiling, Renaissance paintings on the wall and a completely unique atmosphere.

I Musici Veneziani interior

The musicians took to the stage wearing period costumes, which looked so real. It was completely unique- something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. With everything combined, it really felt like the Venice of old.Every single one of the performers was genuinely happy to be there, and to do what they love. It was a truly contagious happiness.

Performance with poisonous smiles
Principal first violin smiling

As they started to perform, we realised that eyes alone were not enough to truly experience Venice. We do enjoy classical music from time to time, and we’ve even been to the opera on occasion- but we were completely unprepared for this. We did not know that human beings could produce such sounds! ! The only way that we could think to describe it is that it went through you, and opened up something inside of you- something you can no longer close. It was truly magical. But that was just the beginning.

Orchestra bass

The main performer came to the stage. She had such a piercing look and because we were sitting in the first row, we were caught by that look. When she sang. she looked straight at us, which took our experience to a whole new level.

I Musici Veneziani – leading performer piercing eyes

When we left the show, we found a quiet place to process what had just happened. While we were sitting by one of the more peaceful of Venice’s canals, , it did not come as a surprise to us when we noticed what was happening next to us in our quiet spot!

Venice – pigeons in love

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