There is a reason Venice is ever present in bucket lists aroud the world: it’s pretty damn nice. This World Heritage city has delighted and inspired countless people throughout its history and without any doubt will continue to do so for many years to come.
Accumulating more titles than many nobles; the city is also known as”La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”.
When you visit Venice though, bear in mind that it’s a highly popular destination and very likely to be crowded. Avoiding the crowds, I refused to visit during Carnival season, though I’m sure it must be very entertaining, and even so – I had to book my hostel separatedly from the one my friend was at. In spite of that, I want to go back so don’t let yourself be discouraged and let’s start the journey to appreciate one fo the most beautiful examples of a city in elegant decay.
Here are a few things you will undoubtedly love:
1.- The narrow streets and canals.
A city built on 117 small islands is naturally not the place for wide roads or cars to wander. Many of these islands were so close together that linking them with bridges was the easiest solution for connecting them. The result was quite captivating and gave venice an edge over many other cities; so much that actually many other cities with canals have adopted the title of Venice within their names. The best example is “Venice of the North”, in reference to Amsterdam, Birminham, Brujes, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Stockholm, Saint Petersburg and Wroclaw.
2.- The wide canal
The Grand Canal crosses the city like a big serpent and is the biggest and bussiest canal in Venice. Functions both as the main commerce route and the main tourist circuit. I think what makes it specially attractive is that at some point in history the noble and richest families in the city took it as some kind of competition to establish their residences overlooking the river and show of their wealth through the luxurious architecture of their homes. You can admire the old times decadency as a humble merchant sails next to you on his everyday route to deliver goods to the market. It’s a very interesting site to consider.
3.- Mouth-watering food choices
We all have a place in our hearts for Italian food. I personaly see it as the ultimate Comfort Food. There is no lousy day a hot slice of cheesy pizza can’t improve. While traditional thin slices a la legna are usually the best choice; Venice has some thick fluffy slices that are off-the-charts as well. Wether it’s sipping Campari at a waterfront restaurant and snacking on fried octopus and fresh carpaccio or lounging at the piazza with tiramisu gelatto; you will surely be dragged into the hedonist italian evenings of good food, wine and the long lived pastime of “see and be seen”.
4.- No buses
Buses are the type of transportation I hate the most. Probably the only one I actually hate. On the other hand, walking is among my favorites, and since Venice is pretty much a walk-through-it city I was definitively in sunny mood as I carried myself in and out of charming streets and all the way to St. Marks plaza by the sea.
You can pretty much walk anywhere or take a vaporetto ( water taxi). If you had your mind set on a gondola ride this can certainly be done too but I found it too expensive and honestly you get the same experience by other means of transportation.
Venice is not that big so I suggest you get a map, mark down your hotel and then shove it in your backpack to get lost in the fish shaped city. You can get it out later at night to find your way back 🙂
5.- Day & Night, the lively Piazza San Marcos
I already painted you some very nice pictures of the piazza didn’t I. It’s because as the focus point of Venezian solife, it is always full of locals and tourists alike enjoying the open space, the fashionable people and the come and go of gondolas and ships from the port to the nearby islands.
If you wanna catch the square all to yourself you’ll have to stay up late or get up early but it can be done 😉
6.- Romantic details everywhere
Italians are quite the passionate sort, I’m sure you’ve heard… so it’s no surprise they have neat details here and there for romantic souls to appreciate. From street names to dimmed lights in cozy trattorias and flowers dangling from any old balcony you encounter. And every now and then you see that fashionable couple of elderly folks walking hand in hand or chatting while drinking coffee. If you are not the appreciating-sweetness type, just try not to gag all over my blog and skip this point ♥
7.- Beautiful architecture
St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s place are two of the most famous examples of buildings to visit. Their style is impeccable and quite well preserved. Arches, paintings and engraved marble really have something to them.
Italy is one of the fashion meccas of the world, and even if this is not Milan; you will still find much joy in browsing the shopping street full of high class brands and unique accessories. As a traveller on a budget I was trying to stay away from any substancial money-spending activity but figured some window shopping could do no harm. I ended up buying some stuff of course (chocolate shaped like the pope for my grandma, limoncello for the bar at home and penis shapped pasta just for laughs). I passed on a beautiful italian leather handbag; I still kinda regret that one. Though on second thought that money went to my boat ride to Burano and Murano; and I’d exchange any material possesion for an additional trip any time.
9.- The colorful island of Burano
Fisherman’s place, lace-work island, touristic point. This little island north of Italy became a world attraction no doubt on account of some photographer’s work. So nowadays a constant flow of boats comes from Venice and you kinda have to either be very lucky with your timing or push people away if you want a desserted island picture. What I think is not very good for the island is that even though flocks of tourist wander the street every day, very little money is actually left for the local people. When you come here, please be respectful and spend a couple of euros on lunch or buying a craft souvenir from the lady who lives under the roof you are photographing.
10.- The Glassmaking island of Murano
When you’ve seen an artisan wield a simple pole of glass into the most amazing shapes, you really appreciate the craftsmanship of the people behind your unicorn earrings .If you have not seen these people at work I recommend you get a tour inside one of the workshops; they might even let you try to do it as well!
This art practice is actually very common to find in my country ( Mexico). But it was very interesting for me to see the different forms individual artisans come up with. And the work of precursors in the art of glassmaking, since we got it from the europeans settling in, after the spanish conquest anyway.
Murano jewelry I found to be the prettiest, with very delicate work and a grand assortment of colors. I honestly do not remember the prices much aside from the ones in the picture but I think they are not so bad for “endemic” pieces though right?
Quirky findings bonus:
Salvador Dalí and Pikachu on exposition :”3