When people ask me if they should go to Venice my answer is always YES!!! It’s one of the most unique places on earth with an incredible history. This is why I conclude my Ciao Amici Northern Italy trip there. Just think about this, Venice is comprised of over 100 small islands and over 300 bridges. Imagine a place with no roads or cars!!! Only canals and boats. Some of the most famous bridges in Venice are the Ponte Rialto and the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The Ponte Rialto, one of the most renowned, is located in the heart of the original Venice city and is the first stone bridge to connect to the banks of the Grand Canal. Cross over the bridge several times during the day and you can see the Grand Canal in all its splendor. You don’t want to be walking over the Bridge of Sighs! The legend is that bridge was said to be a prisoner’s last view of Venice before they were escorted to a prison cell or execution chamber. You do, however, want to pass under this bridge if you are looking for romance. It is said that if a couple in a gondola kiss as they pass under the bridge at sunset as the bells of St. Mark’s toll, their love will last forever.
Venice really has something for everyone who visits. The history, the architecture, the local products and the food are all wonderful . My suggestion is to stay in hotel near the Piazza San Marco, it is easy to get to and close to everything. It is easy to get lost in the maze of Venice with its little streets called calle. If you get lost though don’t panic, there is no better way to explore Venice and encounter its surprises at each turn. Enjoy the architecture of the buildings, stop at a local bacaro (bar), have cicchetti (local finger foods) and of course drink an Aperol Spritz or take a gondola ride and enjoy a beautiful venetian sunset.
Actually arriving at Venice from the airport or the train station can be very tricky and challenging at times. I suggest booking a transfer with the hotel you are staying in. Don’t get nervous though if your luggage does not go in the same boat with you. Remember, there are no cars so everything is transported by water taxi, most times they put the luggage in one and the people in another. Never fear though, your luggage will arrive at the hotel with you.
I would suggest if you can, travel to Venice during the off season. The tourist’s season is during July and August and it is very hot and very crowded. It can also be extremely expensive. For example you have to be careful when ordering. If you order a coffee standing at a bar, it can be a completely different price and much more expensive than if you order it sitting down from a server! If you have time, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is the island famous for hand-blown glass. Venetian glass is known all over the world and many shops even have people demonstrating this art. Burano is known as the beautifully colored fishing village. Lacemaking is to Burano what glassblowing is to Murano. The island’s residents have been experts at making intricate lace since the 1400s.
My last suggestion would be, if possible, to travel to Venice during Carnevale (the days leading up to Ash Wednesday). If you have the time, you should absolutely do it! It is a huge event that is a lot of fun and lasts for days. People wear elaborate and intricate masks during all of the parties. These Venetian masks have had a long history of hiding a person’s identity during promiscuous or indulgent activities. It evolved into being the emblem of Carnevale. While I have never been to Venice during Carnevale, it is on my bucket list to go. Maybe someday we will all go together!