Written by sararevell on 12 Jul, 2009
Highlights:We hadn’t had much time beforehand to read up on Venice but in terms of sights, shops and restaurants we knew we would be spoilt for choice. Arriving into Piazzale Roma reveals very little of what Venice has in store. As the bus flies across…Read More
Highlights:We hadn’t had much time beforehand to read up on Venice but in terms of sights, shops and restaurants we knew we would be spoilt for choice. Arriving into Piazzale Roma reveals very little of what Venice has in store. As the bus flies across the Ponta della Liberta towards Venice, the lagoon on either side was dead calm and shrouded in a light mist. Small boats skimmed the surface of the water and you become aware of the fact that you’re now leaving dry land. On our very first evening we made our way to Osteria Alla Bifora on Campo Santa Margherita. Bifora came recommended by the representative who met us at our apartment and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer welcome into Venice. Here we discovered great Prosecco and a cheese and meat platter the size of Venice’s Piazza San Marco. Over the next four days we were blessed with warm, dry weather, meaning that we could sit out in many of Venice’s plazas to enjoy a cup of espresso or a glass of wine. We rated highly piazzas such as Campo Santa Maria Margherita, Campo Santo Stefano, S. Giacomo Dell’Orio and Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo. I also indulged in a few too many gelatos but with so many flavours on offer and at 1 euro a scoop, it seemed foolish not too.Over the next few days we put on the miles, taking in the streets of la Giudecca, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Polo, San Marco and Murano. I especially enjoyed Dorsoduro and the little we saw of the Castello area. They have some wonderful back streets and corner cafes where you can really escape the tourist groups and sit with a latte and a pastry (or gelato) and contemplate the pigeons and the shabby architecture.Another place for quiet contemplation is the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. This unfinished palace has the benefit of the Grand Canal on one side and a tranquil courtyard on the other, allowing visitors to stop and sit before, during and after their tour of the exhibition.Slightly less peaceful and almost as spiritual is a trip to Basilica di San Marco, which is impressive for its mosaic work if nothing else. Finally I would really recommend the ultimate tourist cliché in Venice, a Gondola ride. Despite the cost, it really is the best way to see the Grand Canal.Quick Tips / Suggestions:If you’re making your own itinerary, you must invest in a good map because Venice is an unforgiving maze. If you take your eye off your map for even a second, don’t be surprised if it takes a while to orient yourself again. Being a small city, Venice is great to walk around and depending less on the vaporetti will save you a lot of money. If you arrive into Venice by bus or train, you would be advised to pack quite light and bring a backpack rather than a suitcase as crossing bridges and walking up and down narrow stone streets can become a challenge. Unless you want a decadent experience, I wouldn’t recommend the cafes in Piazza San Marco, where a latte will set you 9-10 euros, about 2-3 times the price in the smaller piazzas. One last tip is that there is a free shuttle boat for Hilton guests (but really anyone can use it). It stops at Zattere and San Marco and is indispensable if you’re staying on la Giudecca as we were. Best Way to Get Around:Shuttle buses from Treviso Airport run to and from the airport to coincide with scheduled arrivals and departures. Tickets cost 10 Euro return to Piazza Roma (about 40-45 minutes journey time) and are valid for 7 days. I assume that a similar service runs from Marco Polo airport as well.You also have the option of taking a water taxi. They’re expensive but if you can afford it I have heard that it’s quite a spectacular introduction to the city. Arriving by shuttle bus into Piazzale Roma, we hopped on board our first vaporetti (water bus) to Palanca on the south island of La Giudecca, which was to be our home for the next four days. The vaporetti make regular stops and run on many different lines around Venice, going out to Murano, Burano, Lido, La Giudecca and the Cimitero. Staying next to the Hilton hotel, we took full advantage of their free shuttle boat, which departs on the hour (to Zattere and San Marco) and 40 minutes past the hour (to Zattere only). Coming back, they run until 0:20 from San Marco and 0:50 from Zattere. Close
Written by Joy S on 30 Sep, 2008
We flew with the low cost airline Ryanair from the UK to Venice Treviso Airport. Apart from their luggage policy of 15kg per person, which cannot be pooled, we were impressed with the airline. The plane landed and took off on time, the…Read More
We flew with the low cost airline Ryanair from the UK to Venice Treviso Airport. Apart from their luggage policy of 15kg per person, which cannot be pooled, we were impressed with the airline. The plane landed and took off on time, the aircraft was modern, clean and comfortable and the crew were helpful and friendly.Treviso Airport though is 30km north of Venice. It is a tiny little airport - we queued outside, close to the runway to go through passport control. Although small, it has everything you need and is fine. When you are leaving, do not go through security until as late as possible, as there is not much to do - no restaurant etc.. There is a nice place to eat before securit - spend your time here.When we arrived in Venice we picked up a hire car as we travelled on to Verona and the lakes. There is however a regular coach service linking Treviso airport to Venice - Piazzale Roma. We took this coach back to the airport on our departure. It was excellent. The journey takes 40 minutes and costs 6 Euros in a big, comfy, air-conditioned coach.Venice is really hundreds of islands in a lagoon connected by bridges. No cars are allowed in the city proper - this is a real pedestrian city.We left our hire car at Mestre station and caught the train over the water to the city. We took a water taxi from outside the station - what an introduction to this watery place! It cost us 60 Euros to get to our hotel on the lagoon - it was fantastic. Like having your own private speedboat - we loved it so much we splashed out when leaving Venice and got a water taxi to Piazzale Roma.The Grand Canal is Venice's 2 mile main street. Water buses (vaporetto) go up and down the Grand Canal and to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Lines 1 and 82 go up and down the Grand Canal with great views of the palazzos. The circle lines go all around Venice, with stops along the way. Take a vaporetto at least once - you will dodge gondolas and delivery boats and cruise through 1,000 years of history.We bought 24 hour passes for the vaporettos - I thought they were definitely value for money. We used line 1 and also went to and from Murano.A tip if you do go on the vaporetto - always try and get a seat at the front - if you sit in the main section, you don't get a great view. We rode the full length of the Grand Canal, then when everyone got off at the last stop, got straight back on for front row seats.Gondola rides last about 35 minutes. Night time or just before sunset is the most magical time to go. They hold 6 people plus the gondolier. This is a must do. Gondolas are touristy and over priced, but also a fabulous way to see the hidden corners of this unique city.We took a gondola ride around the smaller canals - the Grand Canal is the same view as the vaporetto. Our gondolier was chatty and friendly and told us all sorts of interesting snippets about his unusal and fascinating job. We went after 7pm and paid 100 Euros for 35 minutes. It is cheaper in the day time - the same ride costs about 80 Euros.Aside from boats the only way to explore Venice is by walking and losing yourself repeatedly. The city wasn't built to make sense to those on foot, but rather to those plying the canals. We navigated many twisting streets whose names changed constantly and did not appear on any map. Getting lost though is part of the fun. Close
Written by Joy S on 26 Sep, 2008
* The patron saint of Venice is St Mark and his body is buried in the Basilica of San Marco. St Mark is represented as a winged lion with his paw on an open book - the Gospel. Everywhere you go in the city,…Read More
* The patron saint of Venice is St Mark and his body is buried in the Basilica of San Marco. St Mark is represented as a winged lion with his paw on an open book - the Gospel. Everywhere you go in the city, look for the winged lion in all sorts of places - on the red and gold flag of Venice, statues, fountains, door handles, even gondolas. This is great fun for children.* There are hundreds of bridges over the canals and steps up and down each side. If you have young children, avoid bringing a buggy, as this will involve a significant amount of lugging it up and down and over each bridge.* The ice cream is delicious and available in lots of different flavours. Also try the pastries - the traditional zaletti (large cookies in plain, chocolate or pistachio) made with cornflour are excellent.* Venice is a fun place to shop - the opulent windows are filled with colours and textures. There are models of gondolas in all shapes and sizes. Also look out for glass items, mosiacs, masks and gondolier hats.* If you have a coffee and sit at St Marks Square, be aware of the hidden charges. It may say 8 Euros for a coffee, but do not be shocked if you get a bill for 3 times that. The places on the square charge you for sitting on their chairs and listening to the orchestras. Try one of the other squares for a more reasonably priced drink. There will not be an orchestra, but they are still lovely places to watch the world go by.* Watch the sun rise on the lagoon (we were lucky as we could see this from our hotel window) - the panorama as the city awakens is one of the greatest spectacles. Also walk the streets late at night when the lights twinkle on the water. Take your camera out at sunset for stunning pictures.* Be aware of the Aqua Alta - during the notorious tidal high water floods the lagoon backwashes into the city leaving up to 5 or 6 feet of water in the lowest lying streets. St Marks Square, as the lowest point in the city goes first. Floods can start late September but are normally between November and March. The waters recede after a few hours and are virtually gone by noon. There are walkways, but you will get wet feet.* When you go down the Grand Canal, especially with children, look out fo the ambulance boat, the fire boat, the funeral boat and even the Coca Cola delivery boat. We were especially lucky and even saw a gondola filled with flowers and a bride and groom.* By and large Venice is considered one of the safest cities in Europe. Violent crime is rare here, although pick pocketing can occur.* Although Venice is not an obvious choice for children, do not be discouraged as it is surprisingly easy to navigate and children love the boat travel. Food and people are child friendly and most of the important sights are outside. The best way to see the treasures of this city is to wander aimlessy stopping for ice creams en route. The lack of traffic means children can play in the squares or meander in the streets without fear. However none of the canals are properly fenced so beware!* Although summer is not necessarily the best time to visit Venice, there is never really a bad time. In summer remember to bring mosquito repellent (I got bitten a lot!) and a sunhat. Also bring flat and comfortable shoes.* Give children a flavour of the city without overwhelming them with culture. Trying to see too much is an easy mistake to make in a city like this. Balance is crucial. Close
Written by Joy S on 25 Sep, 2008
Venice is a city that says adventure and sailing to distant lands. From the 13th-15th centuries it was one of the most luxurious cities in Europe and a great trading empire with the Orient. Today it is a city like no other -…Read More
Venice is a city that says adventure and sailing to distant lands. From the 13th-15th centuries it was one of the most luxurious cities in Europe and a great trading empire with the Orient. Today it is a city like no other - intriguing, disorienting and exhilarating. As Henry James said "a visit to Venice becomes a perpetual love affair."Venice works on so many levels and makes you feel as if you have escaped the everyday. It is a strange, alluring city of gently crumbling grandeur. A place for fantasy and forgetting - there is nowhere better to get away from it all.Central Venice is divided by the 2.5 mile long Grand Canal. Its 118 islands are separated by approximately 170 canals and connected by 430 footbridges. Only 3 bridges cross the Grand Canal - the Ponte dei Scalzi outside the train station, the Ponte Rialto - made of elegant white marble and by far the most recognisable and the wooden Ponte Accademia.We brought our 4 year old son along to Venice. The city is magical not just for adults, but also for children. Where else can you cross 20 bridges in one day? Ride a water bus or catch a taxi that is actually a speedboat? Our son had such a great time exploring the labryinth of streets, squares, shimmering canals and endless bridges.We adored this city but our main highlights were:* Arriving by water taxi - not the cheapest way to get to your destination, but without doubt the most stylish and the most fun. We got a water taxi from the train station to our hotel on the lagoon - it was the most amazing introduction to this fabulous city and I highly recommend it.* Standing on the terrace of St Marks Basilica by the famous horses and looking down on St Marks Square below - one of the most beautiful squares in the world.* Taking a waterbus and travelling the full length of the Grand Canal - drinking in the marvellous views of the faded palazzi, the gondolas, the Rialto bridge and more....* Taking a gondola ride along the more quiet canals at dusk - touristy and overpriced but unforgettable.* Wandering along the streets and getting lost, coming upon the beautiful squares by chance, browsing in the shop windows and losing track of time.* Watching the boats and comings and goings on the lagoon and the other canals and marvelling at how everything in this city arrives, leaves and travels by water - suitcases, laundry, rubbish and even a bride!! Close
Written by VA_traveler on 13 Feb, 2007
On Sunday, we planned a visit to Murano, an island to the north of Venice that is known for its glass production. We woke up early, and walked north to the Fondamente Nuovo in order to catch the number 42 Vaporetto. This walk turned out…Read More
On Sunday, we planned a visit to Murano, an island to the north of Venice that is known for its glass production. We woke up early, and walked north to the Fondamente Nuovo in order to catch the number 42 Vaporetto. This walk turned out to be the best experience we had in Venice. It was too early for most tourists, and we had our route mostly to ourselves. The bridges were deserted and the canals were quiet. The people we did see appeared to belong; they weren't tourists like us. We walked through areas that felt more like neighborhoods, and less like tourist destinations. Here, we thought, was the Venice that people fell in love with. This was not crowded, showy St. Mark's square, but rather a picturesque window into "real life," framed by peaceful canals, and curtained with laundry airing on lines above us.Our day continued pleasantly as we bought our tickets and boarded the vaporetto. The first stop on the way to Murano was the cemetery island of San Zaccharia, where everyone disembarking carried bouquets of flowers. We arrived at Murano, and walked for a bit to get our bearings. Unlike Venice proper, where rising property costs and water levels have contributed to the rising average age of residents, Murano seemed vibrant and young. Parents chatting while pushing strollers or working in their yards, a young boy fishing in the canal, neighbors shouting greetings to friends and shopkeepers. Having determined that yes, we liked Murano, we set off for the important task of finding a piece of glasswork as a souvenir of our trip. Passing a side street, we saw a family with a video camera, and correctly guessed that they had found a glass making demonstration. We enjoyed watching from the doorway, but we were glad that we weren’t the couple that seemed trapped inside by the salesman. We walked through a couple of the large factory stores, and saw some beautiful pieces. In one store, we tried to ask a salesman about how delicate the glass was, because we had heard that Murano glass was extremely strong. He walked off in a huff. We were confused for a while, then realized he must have thought we were trying to purchase broken pieces? How funny. Sorry sir, if we offended you, it was completely unintended!Eventually we found a small shop called neropaco, where we bought the glass display piece that is now on our bookshelves. We originally walked in because of a sign in the window that said “We do not sell Chinese glass in this shop, and those that do are killing Murano.” Andrea was very helpful, encouraged our attempts at Italian, and even answered our earlier question – he told us that if it fell, the glass would more likely damage the floor instead of the reverse! We had him ship our purchase home for us, where it arrived a few days after we did. We lunched on Murano, at the Busa alle Torre, in the Campo San Stefano. Our meal was delicious, our waiter was friendly, and the restaurant’s owner was a large, gruff, bearded fellow. Our impression was that he was quite a character, and sat at his table all day, shouting at the waitstaff, chatting with friends who walked through the square, and drinking prosecco. When our coffee arrived, we found that the sugar packets were personalized to include a caricature of him, laughing on one side, scowling on the other: our impression, it appears, had been correct! Sipping our coffee, the bells in the tower across the canal began to ding-dong, and we realized we had been sitting there for an hour and a half. Ah, il dolce far niente! These are the moments we hope for every time we travel. Close
Written by jenandfrank on 08 Dec, 2004
Overall, we had an incredible trip to Venice. Our plan was to fly from Rome to Venice, but we found out the morning of our flight that Alitalia was on strike. This, unknown to us, happens quite frequently in Italy we were told. We spent…Read More
Overall, we had an incredible trip to Venice. Our plan was to fly from Rome to Venice, but we found out the morning of our flight that Alitalia was on strike. This, unknown to us, happens quite frequently in Italy we were told. We spent most of the morning doubling back to Rome to get the train, but it was all worth it when we arrived. As a side note: If you throw one coin into the Trevi fountain that means you will return to Rome--guess we got our wish.
For those who don’t know, Venice is a collection of islands connected by these little bridges. For the most part, people get around by walking, although some use water taxis, vaporetto, and gondolas. Combined, these little islands are considered the main island of Venice; they are definitely the liveliest and the most convenient (as opposed to Lido let’s say). Whether you ride the Grand Canal via water taxi (very expensive and not exactly necessary), by vaporetto (best and cheapest), or gondola, the sights are something not to be missed. So unless you are in a hurry, catch the floating subway, vaporetto! We booked a walking tour and a Grand Canal boat ride tour. Check out this site .
We found our guide to be very informative and very well spoken. The tour itself was great and extremely informative. However, I will tell you that it rained (poured) the day of our tour, and we were not able to get a refund or reschedule. The owner was actually quite a jerk about it. In the end, we walked the tour under an umbrella, and on the boat-ride portion we had to sit inside the water taxi and continually wipe the windows down to see what we were passing while the guide was speaking.
Our hotel offered a free water taxi to the island of Murano, which we took. I found the glass there to be very expensive. I guess it also depends on what you are looking for and how much money you are willing to spend on it. To us, everything was too ornate. But we did get a few great tours, especially of the Gino Cenedese family's location. It is absolutely incredible to see; these artists are so talented. I cannot emphasize enough how great St. Mark's Square was at night. What an experience, and so romantic--just phenomenal. As opposed to other cities we have been to, we found here that it's better to just get out of your hotel and walk than plan ahead. Every night after dinner, we would walk to St. Mark's Square and listen to one of the bands. All you have to do is purchase one cocktail and pay the (for the life of me, I can't remember if it was $5 or $10 per person) cover charge, and you can sit there all night long. The bands are incredible, and it's so overwhelming when you realize where you are and what you are doing--and so casual at the same time. Very surreal.
The gelato... oh my gosh, the gelato!! I would have taken tubs home if that were possible. Everywhere you go there is another gelato stand. Sort of like knock-off pocketbooks and bootlegs CDs in Manhattan.
There is a ton of shopping. I mean a ton, and they have everything from Gucci to Murano glass. Being a U.S. citizen though, it really didn’t pay for us to do much shopping. With the Euro so much stronger than the dollar, it would just be cheaper for us to buy imported items at home, so we window-shopped. My husband loves that, but I hate it. Why look if I’m not going to buy, right?
Just walking along and getting lost in the streets is equally as interesting. Everything is in walking distance or a quick boat ride away. The cheapest way we found to get to and from the airport was via Alilaguna. Check out their site at Alilaguna.
This is definitely a place I would recommend and definitely a place for couples. It is arguably the world's most romantic city.
Written by Ed Hahn on 14 Sep, 2005
I am a bit of a curmudgeon, but I’m still able to experience the sense of awe and wonder that is so necessary if I want to be a happy and satisfied traveler. When I first visited Venice over the New Year holiday 2004,…Read More
I am a bit of a curmudgeon, but I’m still able to experience the sense of awe and wonder that is so necessary if I want to be a happy and satisfied traveler. When I first visited Venice over the New Year holiday 2004, I was ready to be blown away by its beauty. In visiting for the first time, I was able to either ignore or repress my sense that the Venetian attitude towards me as a tourist was less than positive. In the winter, the venues weren’t as crowded, except for maybe New Year’s Eve, and the atmosphere was more welcoming. At that time of year, most of the visitors are Italian whereas in the summer, most of the visitors are foreigners. Maybe this fact contributes to the overall difference in atmosphere between my first visit and my second.
I was taken by the beauty of Venice both times I was there. I enjoyed the walking and drank in the architecture and culture of this attractive but fast-fading beauty. The problem, as I see it, is that all there is to Venice is tourism drawn by decaying attractions that are slowly being eaten away by the sea. I live in Hong Kong, and have lived in San Francisco, both very hot tourist destinations. So I am familiar with some of the frustrations that can arise when a place is inundated with visitors. Tourists are mistreated in both places by some of the locals. In San Francisco, it’s mostly crime that tourists are victimized by. In Hong Kong, it’s the cultural divide that often creates misunderstandings. Customer service, as ideally practiced in the West, is not as important in the Chinese culture, though that is changing.
The difference is that both these places are not totally dependent on tourism for their very existence. Venice is. I suspect that might grate on those who must earn a living serving tourists. It manifests itself in a number of ways. Granted these are anecdotal stories nevertheless, I can’t imagine that I am the only person who has run into similar situations.
As I mentioned elsewhere, most of the restaurants have a cover charge during the high tourist season whether you eat there or not. I understand the need to insure that those people using your facilities help pay for them but if I’m eating in your restaurant what is the rationale for a "Cover charge?" There’s no entertainment, the prices on the menu are the same as in the low season, and the service, if anything is worse. The only motivation I can come up with is greed. I reviewed Ristorante Roma elsewhere. Stay away. Planet Dream Pizzeria, which was a joy to visit in December, added a cover charge and cut down on the service in August. One evening, we tried to find a non-touristy place to drink some wine. We found such a place, but unfortunately, the owners obviously didn’t want tourists, so they basically just ignored us and refused to take our order even when we asked them to. We got the message and moved on down the street to a friendlier venue, which was about 25% more expensive for a similar bottle of wine. Eventually, Tom and I stopped going to restaurants and instead bought food to go and ate sitting on public benches or, in one case, in our hotel lobby, not to save money, but rather to save the hassle. Even in December, my wife Pam and I walked out of a restaurant at lunch time that was totally disorganized and where the owner or manager yelled at us in Italian when we asked to be waited on after sitting there for 15 minutes.
The Piazza San Marco is a world famous spot. It is the first place tourists head for when they arrive in Venice. Unfortunately it exemplifies the juxtaposition in Venice of beauty and greed. The square, which is architecturally fascinating, contains many overpriced jewelry stores, souvenir shops, restaurants serving $15 cups of espresso, etc. Musically challenged bands duel for attention while the tourists try to attract pigeons (Woody Allen calls them rats with wings) to sit on their arms by buying overpriced birdseed. The only difference between the tourists and the statues the pigeons usually sit on is that the statues can’t contract any diseases from the pigeons.
On New Year’s Eve, Pam and I were in the Piazza for the celebration. The celebration consisted of the bells ringing in the tower and individuals setting off fireworks wherever they pleased. It wasn’t safe and there was no police presence that I could see. Venice is the most popular destination in Italy for New Year’s Eve. Pam and I have celebrated New Year’s Eve all over the world and this was the lamest "celebration" we’ve ever experienced.
Is Venice all bad? Of course not, or it wouldn’t be as popular as it is. What I am suggesting is that its reputation is undeserved. Pam, Tom, and I agree that we were treated far better in Florence and Rome than here. I understand how the constant crush of tourists could get on people’s nerves, but that same situation has not created the same effect in places like Florence, Siena, or San Gimignano, all of which are similarly inundated with tourists.
What I advise is that, if you are going, and I do believe everyone should go there once, don’t go in the summer or other highly touristy times. Plan your time carefully so you can see the sites you want to see while giving yourself plenty of time to walk. My fondest memories of Venice are walking along the waterfront in the Dorsodura section, getting lost in the warren of streets between the Piazza San Marco and the Castello section, searching for the Ca’ Rezzonica in Dorsodura, and wandering the streets of San Polo on our way to and from the Frari Basilica.
I highly recommend that you do research on eating places before you leave. Something I did not do either time, trusting the techniques that work for me elsewhere in Europe. In Venice, where food is expensive, you need to be more careful. The Internet is full of restaurant recommendations. Use them. Also, use the Internet to find a hotel. People were paying much more for a room in my hotel than I was both times I visited. I cannot say anything bad about the hotel personnel I encountered on both trips. They were generally friendly and helpful.
Venetian art is interesting but it doesn’t, in my opinion, measure up to the art on display in Florence, Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, or New York, to name a few other cities. I think that what separates Venice from other tourist destinations are its architecture, its history, and its canals. I suggest you focus on those aspects of the Venetian experience.
No question, this place is beautiful, though decaying. I am glad I visited Venice, but I doubt I needed the second trip. I further doubt I will ever return. There are just too many other places that are more welcoming. For instance, I plan to return to Florence as soon as I can, and I've been there twice. Maybe the problem is, quite simply, too many tourists and too few residents.
Written by Invicta73 on 09 Mar, 2004
Gondolas are among the most enduring and recognisable things that spring to mind when thinking of Venice. Although the sleek black painted boats have changed so little over the course of centuries that they look the pretty much same in a 18th-century painting by…Read More
Gondolas are among the most enduring and recognisable things that spring to mind when thinking of Venice. Although the sleek black painted boats have changed so little over the course of centuries that they look the pretty much same in a 18th-century painting by Canaletto and a contemporary holiday snap, they now perform a radically different role. The almost unique mode of transport is no longer an everyday means of getting around, and is instead primarily reserved for tourists, and due to that some think that riding in one is a bit tacky. However, it proves to be an unforgettable activity for most people that manage to keep such cynical feelings at bay, including me.
The one factor that may put many potential customers off is the large amount that is charged. There is an official rate, but the initial asking price can often be much more, so haggling is usually a good idea. Meanwhile, anyone who wants a really kitsch time can also hire a serenading singer at extra cost.
Using the similar but larger traghetti that ferry passengers across the Grand Canal is a very cheap substitute, but the trip is short and much more basic. Overall, despite being handy when the nearest bridge is some distance away, standing on board with numerous other passengers for just a few minutes is really nowhere near as enjoyable as the more lavish and expensive alternative.
Having decided on a romantic Venetian break with my wife, the choice of whether to spend the extra money on what would probably be a once in a lifetime experience was not difficult. However, the standard excursion along the city's main waterway did not appeal, as it is often busy and is easy to see when on a vaporetto. Fortunately, whilst in our beloved Dorsoduro district we encountered a local gondolier who was getting ready to go to one of the main stands to find work. He appeared both surprised and happy to discover that our preference was to travel through his home area, and offered us a very reasonable fee. The following hour did not disappoint at all, in fact it was truly magical. Despite a lack of major sights, the almost deserted and predominantly residential canals were more beautiful when viewed from the different vantage point. For much of the time, there was an incredibly peaceful atmosphere, which was infrequently interrupted in a charming manner by a few greetings from acquaintances of our oarsman, as well as the celebratory shouts that seemingly came from all directions when Italy scored during their opening World Cup football match, which was being played at the time. One particular highlight was passing the traditional boat yard where the building of our graceful vessel took place, and watching the craftsmen down tools briefly to engage in some good humoured conversation with their friend and former customer.
The second gondola ride was much less expected and really quite different. It occurred a year later when I was acting as a friend's best man and accompanied the couple to the ceremony in what is perhaps the most wonderfully appropriate vehicle for such an event. Although the route followed was by necessity much busier and perhaps also less evocative, the journey was still extremely memorable, primarily because of the occasion, and the numerous congratulations offered to the bride and groom by both visitors caught up in the sheer romance of the surroundings and the generally family focused Italians, who tend to love weddings.
Written by Ozzy-Dave on 31 Mar, 2002
You can lead an Italian to Venice, can’t you?
by Dave Underwood
"Remember, don’t get off the train. You have to cross the water, Venice is an island."
"David, he’s not an idiot!" said Karen. "It’s his country!"
The phone card expired, cutting off Jimy’s reply. Karen was excited.…Read More
You can lead an Italian to Venice, can’t you?
by Dave Underwood
"Remember, don’t get off the train. You have to cross the water, Venice is an island."
"David, he’s not an idiot!" said Karen. "It’s his country!"
The phone card expired, cutting off Jimy’s reply. Karen was excited. We had met Jimy and Maria last week in a Florence bar, where Maria worked to pay her way through university. We had a lot of fun together and they were taking a day off to visit us in Venice before we left Italy.
Neither of them had been to Venice and I hoped the two train stations wouldn’t confuse them. There’s a mainland station at Mestre, then a bridge across the water to the island station at Santa Lucia. They’d know that, it’s their country. Of course they would.
We bought four day passes for the boats, planning to visit the main sights, then take Jimy and Maria to the lagoon islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. By nine o’clock we were waiting at the train station. At nine-thirty we were still waiting.
I rang our pensione, doing battle in broken English with Manuel the Desk Clerk. Jimy had called wanting to know where we were, they were apparently waiting for us at the station. Apparently not. Then the obvious conclusion emerged.
Did they really get off at the wrong station? I left a message with Manuel, asking him to give directions if Jimy rang again.
By ten-thirty an embarrassed Jimy and a giggling Maria made it across the water to the island of Venice, arriving to applause from two Australian tourists. You can lead an Italian to Venice, it just might take a bit longer.
The thrill of exploring
The absence of traffic. The sound of water and its moody reflections. The romance of the light. Venice is breathtaking. But I really like the boats. The combination of walking and boating is fun and the ideal way to explore Venice. Single and multi-day boat passes represent great value and avoid the need to queue for individual tickets.
It’s also a small city, taking barely an hour to walk across if you don’t get lost. But you will. That’s why the combination of walking and boating works so well. Even when all is lost and your feet are sore, you’re never far away from Venice’s most beautiful street, the Grand Canal, and a vaporetti stop.
So grab a boat pass, your day pack and a camera, and let’s walk – you’ll discover memories to last a lifetime in the historic canals and lanes of the world’s most beautiful city.
The walking tours in this journal (and illustrated on the map from the Overview) provide a good introduction to Venice. They explore much of the main island, from the bustling tourism epicentre of St Marks to the farthest back streets, or should I say canals, of uncrowded Cannaregio, Dorsoduro and Castello.
They’re based on a philosophy that worked for us; a balanced view of the island and its people through a blend of popular sights and more cultural pursuits. And I can tell you, we got lost many times doing the research. But hey, that's half the fun.
Settle back, map in hand, and let the magic of Venice weave its spell...
Written by lyss710 on 21 Nov, 2001
Many people know that Venice is slowly sinking. A study published in the year 2000 by Albert Ammerman says that the city has "sunk" 24 centimeters in the past 100 years. (For all you metrically challenged people - that's 9.5 inches). But…Read More
Many people know that Venice is slowly sinking. A study published in the year 2000 by Albert Ammerman says that the city has "sunk" 24 centimeters in the past 100 years. (For all you metrically challenged people - that's 9.5 inches). But is Venice sinking or the water rising? The answer is complex, but in simple terms - the answer to both questions is yes. Every year Venice floods (as often as 50-100 times a year) as a result of high tides and heavy rainfall. Studies show that global warming and changes in the winds and weather in the Adriatic sea are causing the sea level to rise as well.
We visited Venice in March, and while we didn't see a full-fledged flooding of the city, after a day and a half of light rain the waters of the canal and the lagoon were lapping over the edges of the walk near Piazza San Marco. At true "acqua alta" (high water) the entirety of Piazza San Marco is fully immersed under water. Some Venetians keep knee high (or higher) boots at both their home and place of business so they are prepared when the flood warning bell sounds.
In 1966, the city suffered the most significant flood. At that time, the city was covered in almost 1-2 meters (roughly 3-6 feet) of water. The flood almost destroyed the city, both historically and economically. When the water level rises too high, the vaporettos (the boat "buses" that serve the city) are not able to run because they can't fit under the bridges. When the water level reaches 4 feet, city workers are no longer allowed to lay down the network of raised wooden walkways that serve as makeshift sidewalks during times of high water, for fear that the walkways could be swept away by the high water.
These wooden walkways serve as a visable reminder of the battle between Venice and the sea. On our visit, it took us a while to figure out what all the low wooden tables piled up around Piazza San Marco, Lista di Spagna and other main pedestrian areas were. Reading in our guidebooks, we discovered they were not tables, they were the walkways. When not in use, especially during flood season, the walkways lay stacked in piles around the various tourist destinations.
Solutions to the problem are controversial and complex. The idea most often discussed is a project to build mobile floodgates at key inlets of the lagoon where the Adriatic pours in. Supporters say this will stop the devestating high tides that eat away at the foundations of the city, while opponents say the gates will threaten the ecological system of the lagoon and prevent the cleansing waters of the Adriatic from entering the lagoon. Another piece of the solution that has been discussed to raise the foundations of key areas of the city up to 100 centimeters (40 inches).
No matter how you look at it, Venice is in danger. The problem is centuries old, and the solutions are far from simple.
See links below for articles related to the flooding, including pictures of recent floods.
Tidal floods a part of life in watery Venice - interesting article about the flooding including several good pictures (one of Piazza San Marco underwater)
Artwork Documents Sinking Venice - how paintings from the 18th century can help document flooding
Can Venice Be Saved? - an article from TIME for Kids, but it is very well written, and has a picture of Piazza San Marco underwater.