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10 Hints to Make You Fall in Love With Venice...

 

Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based travel writer who has yet to meet an Italian city she doesn't like, but she has a particular affection for the canal city of Venice. Here are 10 of Jessica's hints to help you fall in love with Venice, too.

 

Find “romantic” Venice...

Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities, but as far as I’m concerned the word “romance” in Venice applies to more than just wandering arm-in-arm with a sweetheart. To me, romantic Venice means quiet piazzas, local markets, and water in narrow canals lapping the edges of crumbling buildings – and while I love sharing those things with my husband, in some ways I prefer being in Venice by myself. Traveling solo to Venice gives my mind more of an opportunity to wander into its wild places, and before I know it I’m imagining life as a 16th century Venetian courtesan… Romantic Venice is as much a state of mind, as it turns out, as a physical place.

 

You can’t get lost in Venice but you should try...

One of the best ways to find romantic Venice is to get off the main tourist track in the city and get as lost as you possibly can. Don’t worry about getting dangerously lost – you’re on an island, after all, there’s only so “lost” you can get, and on top of that Venice is incredibly safe for aimless wandering. Each day as enormous tourist crowds pour from the cruise terminal or the train station to St. Mark’s Square and back, it might seem that it would be harder to get away from the hordes. The truth, however, is that the vast majority of the visitors stay on one well-traveled route, so even during the high season all you need to do is walk in a perpendicular direction to the “main street” (taking care not to walk into a canal, of course) and you’ll feel like you’ve got the city to yourself within a few minutes.

 

Venice’s lack of nightlife...

Despite the huge numbers of tourists who flood into Venice each day, this is a city with essentially no nightlife. Most visitors are day trippers, and the number of people who actually live in Venice is dwindling every year, but anyone who has grown accustomed to the typically-late Italian dinner hour will likely be surprised at how early Venetian restaurants close in the evenings (many are cleaning up the last diners’ tables by 10:30pm). Restaurants along the main tourist route tend to stay open a bit later in the high season, but Venice doesn’t have nightclubs or late-night bars to speak of, so the best thing for night owls to do in Venice is to take advantage of the quieter streets and just wander.

 

Venice is expensive...

Venice has a reputation – several, in fact, and most of them don’t reflect very favorably on the city. Some are myths that need to be dispelled (Venice doesn’t smell, for instance), but some are truths you need to learn to work around. The rumors you’ve heard about Venice being overly expensive are absolutely true, although there are a few things you can do to mitigate the cost of your trip. Avoid the high seasons of summer and Carnevale, opt for a hotel that doesn’t overlook the Grand Canal, and steer clear of the restaurants with tables right next to a canal. Even if you do all of those things, Venice will still cost more than some other cities (including some other big-deal stops in Italy), but as far as I’m concerned it’s worth it.

 

Stay on the islands themselves, not the mainland...

I know budget travelers who resist staying on the Venetian islands because it can be so expensive to do so. Instead, they opt to stay on the Venetian mainland – also called Mestre – and take the train or bus out to the islands to visit each day. The problem with this is that they’re effectively day trippers, thereby eliminating much of what makes a visit to Venice so fantastic – especially the late-night and early-morning wandering. If your budget won’t allow for multiple nights on the islands, then I highly recommend you at least consider one night on the islands followed by (if you’re staying longer) a couple more on the mainland.

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