A city made up of 118 islands with countless bridges connecting one to another, Venice is an exquisite maze to lose yourself in. The history, the architecture and the quirkiness of the Venetians makes traveling to this odd town worth it.
Unfortunately, in the last few years the real Venice is under threat from two things. One being, physical extinction due to the fact that the city is sinking and the sea level is rising. The second reason being more to do with a threat to the authentic Venice. Apparently, there is now only a fraction of local Venetians left in the city, due to the massive amounts of tourists that pour into the city throughout the year. This makes living there to be astronomically expensive and also rather annoying (like, fair). So, my advice would be to visit Venice as fast as you can before it literally sinks and also while you’re there to invest in the local community. Go to eat in real venetian restaurants and shop in the authentic venetian craftsman shops. Yes, they might be more expensive than the tourist equivalent but if you want to see real Venice while also saving the integrity of it, I would suggest you pay that little bit extra.
To add to my last point, Venice is overall crazy expensive so do not go expecting to skimp. We didn’t stay in Venice but in Verona and got the train in for the day. It worked out really well with us paying just 9 euro each way and only having to travel for about an hour in from Verona. I would definitely recommend doing this as it was easy and much cheaper than staying in the city. If you are looking to keep costs low as well two rules of thumb apply. If you are stopping for a coffee or something, do not sit down. The actual drink itself will not be expensive but the fee they land on you for sitting down is. If you have your coffee standing at the bar you will pay around one euro but if you sit down you are looking at paying 4 euros. Another rule is if you are looking for somewhere more local and cheaper to eat, avoid St. Mark’s square (fairly obvious I think) and avoid restaurants that have pictures of the food on the menus. These are set up to cater to tourists who they assume apparently have never seen a bowl of pasta before. We ate in a great place that was recommended to us that was called Ristorante Antico Gatoleto. For Venice the prices were decent, the food and wine were delicious and we were surrounded by big local families so altogether it was a delightful dining experience.
As a side note I would urge you to visit Venice in the Spring instead of the Summer. I have been to Venice in the summer before and did not like it one bit. It smelt horrendous and was completely clogged with tourists. Going in the spring completely changed my opinion of the city, as there was no smell at all and it was nicely busy.
I would highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t been to Venice before to go on the free walking tour. Our guide, Simone, who is married to a Venetian, brought us around what she called the “true Venezia” which meant we weren’t stuck on some tour that only brought you to St. Marks and the Rialto bridge. She was extremely passionate about Venetian conservation and shared so much information about the efforts to prevent both the physical and sentimental losses of Venice. The free walking tours also give you a map that has all the information you need to know about local food and bar spots and has accurate reading of Venice’s many streets. One thing to note is that Google and Apple maps don’t really work properly in Venice so getting one of those maps was like winning the golden ticket. Simone also brought us to the city’s hospital which sounds a little weird I know, but it was actually very telling of what the city stands for. The building that the hospital is in used to be a type of snooty, country club thing that got shut down by Napoleon when he took over the city and converted into a hospital. It is the fanciest hospital that I have ever seen in my life and it has boat ambulances and everything. If you really want to understand how the Venetians live this tour will show you in a complete sense.
If you want to see panoramic views of the city, Simone told us of a great viewing spot which not everyone knows about. It is actually on the top of a rather snooty looking shopping centre, (don’t let the pissy shop assistances keep you from walking through), called Fondaco dei Tedeschi. If you are lucky, like we were, the sun will be shining and the city from the viewing point is stunning.
There is so much this city has to offer that we didn’t even get to see but from the people I was talking to on our walking tour, going across on the boat to Murano to see the glass making seems to be an incredible experience. It is definitely something I want to do when I return to Venice one day, with a steady income. There is so much to see in this fascinating city with all its quirky history and tradition that if you are making a list of places this city should definitely be on it. If you need any more encouragement I have made a video of our trip there with the link below.
Until next time,
Walking Tour Link if you are interested: