“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” Anna Akhmatova
Need to pick only one place for a fantastic vacation? With so many to choose from, one option is Venice, Italy. One of the most celebrated cities in the world, Venice is a city of magical beauty meant to be experienced on foot. You won’t find taxis, cars, or any other type of motorized vehicles in the narrow streets and alleys. And that’s okay.
Referred to as the “City of Canals”, Venice is made up of six ancient administrative districts called sestieri. Built on a patchwork of more than 100 low lying islands in the middle of a swampy lagoon, all areas of Venice begged to be explored.
With over 400 bridges crossing those canals, Venice is also called “The City of Bridges.” While many of those bridges are functional and fairly non-descript, several do warrant a special look. The Bridge of Sighs, or Ponte dei Sospiri, is a footbridge connecting the Doge’s Palace with the prison. Prisoners on their way to their cells or the executioner glimpsed their last look at the city while crossing this bridge. Take a stroll over the Rialto Bridge, the main pedestrian crossing over the Grand Canal. Remember to seal your love with a kiss atop any bridge.
There’s so much to see: Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, Harry’s Bar where Hemingway drank and wrote, and the Basilica di San Marco. Ride the vaporetto on the Grand Canal. Churches, history, beauty, intrigue, museums, romantic alleys, fresh gelato, masks, a glass or two of wine in the afternoon, carnival, handmade leather bags, the fresh fish market, old Italian men at sidewalk cafes, pastries and caffe Americano, and sunsets over red tiled roofs…it’s just the Venetian way of life.
Then take time to walk the back streets, cross over bridge after bridge, sip a Venetian Spritz at a no-name canal side café, wander into a magnificent church to marvel at the frescoes and architecture, and take the Secret Itinerary tour. Venice is a city begging for you to get lost in its side streets, unnamed piazzas, and short cuts to nowhere.
Venice truly makes you feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world.
These insider tips may help as you plan your trip to Venice.
- Stay more than just a couple of days.
- Consider renting an apartment rather than a hotel. They are cheaper, you have more space, and you might end up staying in a palace or remodeled penthouse.
- Cruise ships dock and thousands of tourists head into Venice from 10 to 2. Plan something other than roaming the most famous spots during those times.
- For a quieter stay, look at areas away from San Marco Plaza or the Rialto area.
- If you are planning on taking the vaporetto more than just one day, purchase multiple day passes.
- Streets are narrow, often cobblestone. Take this into consideration when deciding on what luggage you will take. You will be wheeling your luggage to your apartment or hotel, sometimes at a fair distance.
- Think about wearing comfortable walking shoes.
- Savor Venice at sunset.
- Find the local places to sit and have some wine or a spritz as the evening winds down.
- Check out the locally made items such as leather goods, Murano glass, shoes, etc. Many imitations and those not from Italy do exist in some shops catering to tourists. Seek out the genuine articles and true craftsmen when purchasing your souvenirs.
- Don’t hurry.
- Try a Venetian Spritz.
- Purchase tickets for museums, churches, and tours ahead of time online to save time waiting in lines. This is important in the summer, especially.
Most of all, remember to smile and be happy…you are in Venice.