Eating & playing in Venice with a little one

It doesn’t take long for this city to work its magic on me. One look at that long, low horizon shaped by the grey-green Venetian waters as the train pulls into its island station and I find myself breathing a sigh. It may sound cliche but it’s lagoon, the water-lapped maze of streets and canals, its crumbling buildings and piazze hidden away like pockets are truly the stuff of dreams.

Venice from le zattereVenice baccaroVenice al bottegon

But when I was there a couple months ago, a quick weekend trip up from Tuscany with friends, I saw Venice in a new light. I saw it from the point of view of a toddler. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Venice over the years. I spent several weeks on the island of San Lazzaro working on a restoration project at the monastery there, as well as uncountable visits for weekends or even day trips. But admittedly, I hadn’t been back there since having a baby. And although the magic was still there, it was, well, different. We wanted to still do what we love doing in Venice but make it bearable for all by adapting our usual Venetian weekend to having a toddler with us. It worked like a charm.

Venice is a city for walking around in — forget taking the vaporetto everywhere and pack a comfortable pair of shoes. I mean, yes, you can take it once along the Grand Canal just to check out the view if it’s your first time. It’s rather like a little cruise, except you’re squashed and pushed in like sardines.

But otherwise, you should walk in Venice. You will want to take it all in, even get a little lost, and this is the best way. My toddler, 17 months old at the time, had the same idea. She flat out refused in a screaming-out-her-lungs sort of way to sit in a pram and be pushed around Venice. No, she wanted to walk and stop and touch and muse and try to stick a hand in the water.

Luckily our visit was mainly to potter about, see some friends, eat some lovely Venetian food and drink a spritz or two, we had no grand plans for museums or sight-seeing or walking from one end of Venice to the other, as we had thankfully done those things over the baby-free years. We had also conveniently booked an apartment in a great little spot at one of my favourite places for a long passeggiata, Le Zattere, and not far from handy places such as a good piazza (Campo Santa Margherita), a supermarket or a good bacaro (Cantinone gia’ Schiavi) so that ducking out for some food or a run around was just an easy few minutes away. Incidentally, a good gelateria (Gelateria Nico) was nearby too, a life saver when it comes to staving off toddler (and incidentally, parent) meltdowns.

venice zattere cantineVenice zattere e gelatoVenice light

I’ve always loved the Venetian way of strolling from bacaro to bacaro, feasting on a collection of cicchetti from one place to the other. It turned out to be a great way of getting a meal in with the little one in tow too. We were never in one place long enough for her to get bored; we were always outdoors, perched on a bench or on the steps of a bridge and being that there was mostly finger food, it was ready straight away and easy to find something child friendly. Cantinone gia’ Schiavi was only a minute’s walk from our apartment and that turned out to be even more convenient than I imagined. But we also had a good round near Rialto market, ending at Do Spade. Despite the enticing number of deep fried food items, there are also plenty of gluten and wheat free options in Venice, such as polenta and grilled seafood.

Venice rialto do spadeVenice IMG_2361 blogVenice rialtoVenice cantinone gia schiavi

When it came to play, there was nothing like heading straight to the nearest local piazza. Campo Santa Margherita has always been one of my favourites for the fact that you can go there to buy fresh fish or vegetables, you can people watch as you sip on a spritz, and everyone from old to young and in between has a place there. There are endless things for a toddler to do in that piazza — pigeon-chasing, dog-patting and watching the slightly older kids play with a soccer ball all worked a treat. Water fountains and gelato also get big points.

There are also beautiful hidden gardens around Venice that you don’t easily stumble across unless you’re on a playground mission. Parco Savorgnan in Cannaregio (very close to the train station and once the garden of the Baroque Palazzo Savorgnan) is one of the largest (10,000 square meters!) and most beautiful. You can get to it by slipping down the narrowest of alleyways off the mainstream tourist track of Lista di Spagna. It’s like stumbling into a magic garden complete with playgrounds, fountains and plenty of green shady trees. It’s so easy to spend hours here — for anyone looking for a bit of respite from Venetian heat or tourist crowds, this is a special spot.

Venice parco savorgnanVenice grand canalVenice

And when it came to rest, there was nothing like coming back to our beautiful peaceful apartment near the Zattere for nap times and watching the seagulls circle the canals from the lounge. A beautiful thing about Venice that I thoroughly appreciated with having a little one around was the peace and quiet of its laneways and canals — you hear nothing except the calls of the seagulls. No traffic, except on foot and in the water. We all slept like babies.


  1. Zita says:

    Such a great post, Emiko! I understand your feelings completely! 🙂 It’s not easy to travel and do sightseeing with a toddler but it’s managable. I always tell my friends (who don’t have children yet) that being a mom is the most difficult project manager job in the world! I assume you agree with me! 😉

    • Emiko says:

      Absolutely! It’s the hardest thing (but also the most rewarding) that I’ve ever had to do! Still, I like to think that we’ll still be able to do all the things we enjoy doing especially when traveling and that we get to do it all together as a family. Making memories together! This little trip to Venice was an eyeopener for that!

  2. Beautiful! Great post. How special to be there as a family x

  3. Venice is always lovely…

  4. Lee says:

    Great read, fantastic pics, thanks.

  5. I grew up in Venice, so reading about it always makes me emotional… but today you elicited something I had long forgotten… the gianduiotto da passeggio of Da Nico. I wonder if they still make it?

  6. I really love Venezia! E’ una delle città più belle del mondo! 🙂

  7. Userbola is a trustworthy maxbet agent that has collaborated with official maxbet providers since 2014.

    We all are tasked with serving betting players who wish to sign up
    for an official maxbet account in Indonesia. We here as a maxbet list site also have an official PAGCOR license to market
    gambling online games. In addition, Userbola as a maxbet agent always becomes
    positive input from betting members such as fast deal services, safe payments and complete gambling games.
    The data of members who have registered at a trusted maxbet agent userbola are also protected securely.

    The userbola team also always provides benefits to all betting members every week such as a rebate bonus or cashback that you will not get on the official maxbet site.

    From the assessment of our own betting people and official
    providers who may have made userbola the quantity 1 reliable maxbet agent in Indonesia.

    How to Register a Maxbet Account
    Online gambling players who want to sign up for a maxbet account through the trusted maxbet list site userbola only
    need some important data like the full name in line with the bank account, account number, telephone number that can be contacted,
    and email address. These data can be completed via the enrollment form on our website.

  8. userbolavip says:

    UserbolaVIP Alternative Link
    Through online gambling games, you can get income
    as well as entertainment without having in order to leave your comfort and ease at home.
    Any of these sites that provides the greatest gambling online games in Indonesia is
    UserbolaVIP. Through this web site, you can find different types
    of interesting plus popular gambling video games such as soccer
    wagering, online slots, on-line casino, lottery, on the internet
    poker, arcade games and so on.

    Unlike other gambling sites you can locate on the world wide
    web, UserbolaVIP gives you various conveniences in online gambling games.
    As a brand new member, you will end up offered a lot of convenience in signing up, getting lucrative
    additional bonuses, including an option UserbolaVIP link of which you can access without needing to experience difficulties being blocked or having to use a

Leave A Comment