We spent the second half of our Easter break in Italy – first stop Venice.
I will write about the rest of our time there later (adding a baby to a trip to Venice adds a whole new dimension!), but this post contains the results of what was for me at least, the best three-quarters of an hour of our entire stay. Having only ever stayed outside of the city on our previous visits (last time opting for a hotel with a pool a 15 minute drive away), this was the first time we had stayed in Venice itself, and by doing so it meant that I could tick something off my lengthy travel photography bucket list…
I had always wanted to get up at dawn and go out and explore there, so on our last morning I turfed myself out of bed before it was light, and left Mr R and the Small People to slumber on. Whilst I was trying to open the door of our apartment quietly, the Small Boy sat bolt upright, demanding to know whether I was “going out for food” as he had “been awake for ages and wanted breakfast” (typical! It could possibly be easier to teach an elephant to ballet dance on the days you actually need children to get up!!). This energetic and rather loud exclamation of curiosity and hunger woke his sister up too, so there was nothing for it, for the next 45 minutes I had two small and at first rather bleary eyed photographer accomplices (one with her own camera, the other entrusted with my smaller camera!).
St Mark’s Square as you never normally see it…
First stop cutting through St. Mark’s beautifully empty square to get to the water. Apart from a handful of fellow photographers, pigeons, a couple of people getting engagement shots done, masses of street cleaners and people on their way to work and/or bringing supplies into the city, we really did have it all to ourselves. That meant we were able to get close to a good few things that would usually be swarming with tourists, taking time to spot the tiny details that we might have rushed past during the day to get out of the crowds.
It was also fun looking up the history of a few of our finds later on, like the rather sad story of the Venetian couple high up on a pillar spotted by the Small Boy – a tale of true love, childbirth, death and mourning.
Or this guy who looks like he is eating a medieval ice cream or it could be a chicken leg – medieval KFC?
Venice at first light is something truly special. We got lucky in that it was quite a misty morning too (not too uncommon given its location), and as the light increased, the clouds began to gradually disperse and all manner of ancient buildings unveiled themselves.
Between the three of us I think we took over 800 photographs of pretty much everything we could see in that short time. My pictures were mainly of the famous buildings through the mist, the boats on the lagoon and the very devoid of humans St Mark’s Square.
Small Boy followed my lead anxious not to drop my camera, but came up with a few compositions I wouldn’t have even thought about, mostly thanks to being a little tired I suspect and having a lie down at one point.
Thinking about breakfast?
And, as individual as ever, his older sister refused to snap anything that we were taking, and set off on her own unique mission.
As well as the scenery it was a real treat to have the two of them to myself for that time, their baby brother does hog me to himself somewhat at the moment (understandably at 6 months old!).
I hope that one day they will remember our brief photography mission – being able to see the real face of the city as it got ready for the day ahead as well as its emptiness was a real privilege, and well worth getting up for. Not to mention the history lessons we learned along the way. Did you know for example that the Campanile in St Mark’s Square collapsed in 1902 and had to be completely rebuilt? Or that the benches piled up in corners of each street and square are put together to make one long pathway when the city floods as it does at least 100 times a year?
Beginning to get busy…
And after a short while, sensing that our time might be up in terms of the gradually increasing numbers of people, and a mother’s instinct that a tiny person would soon be waking up for breakfast (as would Mr R who would probably wonder where we all were!) we made our way back.
All moored up…
One morning I will never forget.
Lisa (Travel Loving Family) says
Fabulous photos! I love Venice, it is such a quirky interesting city. I have seen St Marks Square flooded before but not as bad as your photo.
Thanks Lisa! (:
Jennifer Howze says
I cannot wait to visit Venice. These pictures capture so much of the beauty and mysteriousness of the city. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Jen, I am sure you will love it.
Grey World Nomads says
You have a talented little photographer there ;) #CityTripping
Thank you :D
Amazing photos! I am going to Rome tomorrow and hoping to wake up before everyone else does one morning and take some shots of the city :) #citytripping
Thank you! Have an amazing time in Rome Vlad, one of my favourite cities! :)
Nichola - Globalmouse says
What a wonderful experience! We were there at the same time but staying on Murano and now I wish I’d done this!! Such a different sight without the crowds. Beautiful photos.
So funny we were there at the same time. Still need to visit Murano, we opted for Burano on our last trip there. Next time! :) Thanks Nicola! (:
Cathy (MummyTravels) says
What stunning stunning photos – I’ve been to Venice a few times but never up early enough to to capture something like this. And what a special moment to have with your older two as well. Thanks for joining up with #citytripping
Thanks so much Cathy! (:
Tanja (the Red phone box travels) says
beautiful photos! and no people cause it’s early:)) #city tripping
The best time! Thanks Tanja! :)
Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says
Firstly, may I congratulate you on getting up at dawn…my skills at catching first light when on holiday are zero but it is clearly worth it! How great to capture a very busy and touristy city before the hoards get there and I love the misty photographs. Fab to be able to share it with your son and daughter too. I love the different interpretations. Thanks for linking to #citytripping
Thanks so much Elizabeth! :)
Wow its so strange to see Venice so empty, foggy and quiet looking! And that sculpture of a girl eating an ice cream is so funny! I guess they take their gelato VERY seriously haha #citytripping
Very very seriously! Thanks Lolo! :)
A Patchwork Life says
Such a great idea and though it wasn’t planned, lovely to share the experience with your older two. Quite sure they’ll always remember it. Love your misty atmospheric photos x
Thank you T. I hope they do! :) x
Liska @NewMumOnline says
Oh my goodness I agree with Midlife Single Mum, there is a breathtaking haunting before dawnish atmosphere in the photos. You described sneaking out and them waking so very well it brings back memories of the times it’s happened to me when I’ve tried to leave Aaron and Daddy in bed. Always at the times you need him to stay in bed he wakes.
Lovely that you had them to yourself as you say and WHAT amazing photography.
So amazing to see the place minus the crowds and fully soak it up. xxx
Thanks so much Liska! :) xx
Donna Billson says
I love these images.
I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Italy but not got there just yet. I need to drop bigger hints I think.
Definitely drop bigger hints! Thanks Donna! (:
What a fantastic little trip out. Between the the three of you you’ve captured Venice in a completely different light and feel.
Thanks very much Ness! (:
Kara Guppy says
I never thought about exploring somewhere at sunrise, what a great idea. Shame it was murky as imagine all those buildings bathed in golden sunlight. Love the lying down photo
Thanks Kara! I have thousands of pics of Venice in the sun, I was secretly hoping for misty murky morning! :D
what gorgeous photos. How lovely you could spend this time taking photos while having the place to yourselves. I guess it was worth the early waking.
Thanks very much Anne! Definitely worth the early start! :)
What a fun walk! I felt like I was right there with you …
Thanks Susanna! (:
Alice Project: Wanderlust says
This is so wonderful – what a magical time to spend with your children. And the images are just beautiful
Thanks so much Alice! (:
i remember visiting venice with my parents like it was yesterday. we went out of season and explored out of the day time carnage too. we also discovered that in venice they have there own dialect which had similarities to the spanish we speak in the canaries so we got some top tips from the locals. your photos have made me want to go back and explore with my own family now x
It was really interesting listening to the true Venetians, sadly my Spanish is non-existent though! :D Thanks V! :) x
I am always full of intent, but never make it out late with my tripod–love early mornings, but I usually use them for a run before the city wakes up. Cool to see Venice so quiet.
It was lovely to see it so quiet. You need to take a camera with you out on your runs! Hope all is well! :)
Midlife Singlemum says
We sometimes say that people who are too busy instagrammming and recording their experiences miss too much as they only see things from behind the barrier of their mobile phones. But here you’ve proved the opposite. I think your camera makes you look harder and you see more. I would never have found the boy with the drumstick or the coulple so high up on that building. I love the haunting atmosphere of dawn in these pictures.
Thanks so much R. It helps that my older two are history buffs so they love places like this, it just all happened to work beautifully that morning without any mishaps! (which is quite unusual for us!) :D