My first time to Venice was in 2010 with a group of 30 art history students.

We were studying the Renaissance as it was in Venice and how it differed from their Florentine counterparts.

Venice is one of those special cities where you can see art in the exact same place it was intended to be hung hundreds of years ago.

I know it sounds cliché but I fell in love with Venice. And really, it is the trip that inspired me to write and blog. Four years later, 2014, I returned and rediscovered the city with my sister and partner in tow. I felt lucky to see their faces light up when they first stepped into the grand Piazza San Marco or when they saw the Assumption of Mary by Titian in the Frari Church.

For me it is a place to be shared and I can’t wait to return again one day perhaps with children of my own.

A slice of the secret life of Venice from my GowithOh Venetian apartment balcony.

I highly recommend a tour of the secret passages and prisons of the Palazzo Ducale. I toured on a rainy day and snuck a peak of the view from the Bridge of Sighs.

Renting an apartment in Venice allowed us to go shopping at the Rialto Market like a local.

These fresh little rolled sardines made a delicious snack at a local cicchetti bar frequented by Casanova. Cin cin to living history!

One of my favourite churches in Europe is the Frari. It’s only 3 Euro to get in and there are so many great works of art and sculpture as well as the tombs of Canova and Titian.

Jet lag can hit you hard but Italy is the land of perfect roasted coffees. Cappuccinos are my breakfast drink with an espresso to give me an extra kick before or after lunch. Caffé del Doge is Venice’s most famous coffee and I bring charming tins of it home as gifts.

If you ask most people who’ve been to Venice they’ll tell you to go to the Dorsoduro and stop at a small gelato shop on the Fondamenta Zatterre for the best gelato in the city. The pear gelato, made with real pears, is a perfect end to an evening after a pasta meal.

Venice’s past speaks subtly through the existing architecture. What once was a butcher shop, as denoted by the mosaic flooring, is now a hidden cicchetti bar on the border of the Castello and Cannaregio sestieri.

A gondola ride is a little pricey for my taste but if you get a good gondolier who’s singing voice echoes through the canals and narrow streets it’s worth it’s a treat for you and anyone within earshot.

It still amazes me that a place like Venice still exists and that Shakespeare or even Marco Polo would be able to manoeuvre the city streets as it still appears very much as it did during their time in history.

Murissa Shalapata is a writer, blogger and novice photographer. She is also founder and writer of where she explores what it means to be a culinary travelers. She is currently finding solace in the Okanagan Wine Valley, British Columbia, Canada.