Family travel snap: taking to the water in Venice

This month our family travel snap takes us to the watery lanes of one of the world's most beautiful cities, Venice, with Lonely Planet Magazine editor Peter Grunert and his family.

Mother and daughter in Venice
Savithri and her mum enjoying their water taxi ride to their hotel © Peter Grunert

What’s the story behind this photo?

Here’s Savithri, aged five, and her mum Sharmila, arriving in style in the Cannaregio district of Venice in a water taxi. Having listened to way too many of my dad jokes and exaggerations over the past few years, our daughter hadn’t quite believed that a city might exist where there are no cars and all the roads are canals. She found Venice to be a completely magical place.

After dropping off our luggage we explored Cannaregio, which is so easy to stroll around – although as Savi can’t swim without arm bands yet, we made sure to keep a hold of her hand at all times. The neighbourhood is known for its artisans, and we wandered past workshops where glass mosaics, leather bags and ornate bits of gondolas were all being made.

Cannaregio still has a lot of local life to it, and Savi loved watching how so many vehicles she sees back home in London have been transformed into boat form: crane boats shoring up palaces from sinking into the silt; ambulance boats swooshing past with sirens wailing, their wake threatening to knock tourists from their gondolas; postal service boats; fruit and vegetable boats; dust cart boats, laden with bins.

Kid's perspective

Here comes an answer most parents who’ve taken their kids to Italy will recognise: 'Daddy, do you remember that pistachio ice cream we ate? It was so yummy!'

Peter's tips for visiting Venice with kids

1) Instead of the eye-wateringly expensive gondola rides, take a traghetto. This ‘gondola ferry’ is used by locals where there aren’t bridges across stretches of the Grand Canal – it was just two euros for a fun five-minute ride, taking in a couple of the most memorable views of Venice.

2) Steer clear of the toy shops. We tried three for locally-made souvenirs, each in different districts, but the ‘don’t touch’ signs and scowling attendants persuaded us to make a quick exit.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

Next stop is a wintry stay in an old farmhouse in England’s Yorkshire Dales National Park. We love storytelling by the fireside on a spooky short break.

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always make sure we have…

…Savi’s spectacular floral wheelie trolley – there’s no risk of confusing that for another kid’s luggage on the carousel.

Bonus snippet

A child sits in the cockpit of a passenger plane
Savithri discovers the exciting world of the cockpit © Peter Grunert

After a little faffing around, we were the last to leave the British Airways flight home. Savi was excited to notice that one of the pilots was a woman, and so was invited by her to take a look inside the cockpit. Might she have just sown the seeds of a future career direction?

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