The City of Light

Venice can overwhelm even the most seasoned traveller. Variously know as the city of water, city of bridges and city of light, it is an amazing historic centre of culture built on 117 islands connected by 49 bridges. We arrive by cruise ship, after 12 days of Holland America-style indulgence, and after sadly farewelling our ‘home’, the good ship Ms Nieuw Amsterdam, a trip on a Vaporetto (water bus) down the main canal is enough to jolt us back to reality. It is crowded, rough and niceties are dropped as the rather surly conductor yells at passengers to move inside in order to squeeze ever more passengers on board.

It takes us a while to locate the Hotel Becher, booked on a whim on It seemed to be centrally located, in Calle del Frutariol,  – close to St. Mark’s Square. And with a 3-star rating, was also almost affordable compared with most other options.

We are delighted when we arrive. The Becher is a like a tiny jewel, and offers an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of Venice on a Friday night (even cities built on canals can experience peak hour). We are greeted by the charming Anna, and her handsome son Alessandro. Their English is excellent and within minutes our luggage has been taken care of, we have a coffee, access to free wifi, a map and instructions how to get to local attractions. Our room is also charming and the view onto the canal is a real bonus. But I spend nearly all my time, seated on the tiny balcony as afternoon tea turns into pre-dinner drinks, watching life on the canals and photographing the striped T-shirt clad gondoliers as they punt delighted passengers along the waterways of this age-old city of dreams. Some sing Neapolitan love songs, much to the derision of locals who wonder why northern Italian songs don’t get an airing. Others have a go at Frank Sinatra specials, so I did it my way is a frequent favourite. But many are content to cut the romance and simply point out the highlights of Venice to newcomers. We couldn’t justify spending the AUD $55 per person for a 40-minute gondola ride. But by staying at the delightful Hotel Becher, we feel as though we experienced the fun and fantasy for no charge whatsoever.


Hotel Becher
Rione San Marco
Calle del Frutariol, 1857

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