near St. Mark’s or the Rialto not the best option...
of Venice’s primary attractions are the gorgeous Rialto
Bridge and St. Mark’s Basilica (and the
expansive square in front of it), and many people seek out
hotels near one of those landmarks if for no other reason
than they’re the only Venetian landmarks they know.
There are perfectly nice hotels near both the Rialto and St.
Mark’s, but because they’re popular they’re
also often more expensive. The neighborhoods (called “sestieri”
in Venice) I prefer are Dorsoduro and San Polo – both
of which are across the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s
and the train station. Budget travelers can often get an even
better deal in the Cannaregio neighborhood, to the north and
east of the train station – which, unlike many of the
neighborhoods that surround train stations, is neither dodgy
Venice’s local (and good) food...
mentioned earlier how Venice’s reputation precedes her,
and another area where that applies is the food. Venice
is notorious for overpriced and not very good food, and
there’s frankly very little incentive for Venetian restaurateurs
to up their game or drop their prices if countless uninformed
tourists are willing to settle day after day. You don’t
have to be one of the uninformed, however, and you’ll
not only eat better if you do a bit of pre-trip research in
this department, you’ll save money as well. The best
way to eat well in Venice (or anywhere on earth) is to eat
what’s local, and in Venice that means seafood. Take
a spin through the Rialto fish market in the morning to see
what the fishermen have brought in that morning, and then
you have a better idea of what to look for on menus that night.
Venice’s famous “cicchetti”
– small plates and bite-sized nibbles, sort of Venetian
tapas – aren’t usually enough to satisfy someone
for dinner, but a cicchetti lunch is ideal. Look for cicchetti
bars away from the main tourist route (it’s even better
if the bar is full of locals).
shop get away from the main tourist track ...
mentioned earlier, Venice is expensive – and that applies
to not just accommodation and dining, but also to shopping.
Some of the most popular souvenirs to bring
home from a Venice visit are Carnevale masks and paraphernalia,
glass from Murano, and lace from Burano. All
of these things can be found in stores that almost literally
line the main tourist route in Venice, although you’d
be smart to question the quality and authenticity of much
of it. Personally, I avoid shopping altogether in Venice,
but if you really need to bring home a trinket I suggest getting
far off the tourist trail before you do any shopping. Venture
through side streets and into shops that aren’t luring
tourists in with cheaply-made Carnevale masks. Don’t
be strong-armed into buying something from the glass-blowing
gift shop after a “free” demonstration on Murano.
And if you’re planning to spend big bucks on Murano
glass, do your homework about reputable shops before you go
– there have been reports in recent years of glass for
sale even on the island of Murano itself that’s mass-produced
sole female gondolier...
900 years of only men being at the helm of one of the city's
most iconic symbols, Venice's
first female gondolier (Giorgia Boscolo, a 24-year-old
mother of two) got her license in 2010 - but
chances are you still won't see her on any gondolas during
your visit. Giorgia is the only woman who has passed all the
necessary tests in the arduous process to become a gondolier,
but her current license only allows her to be a substitute
gondolier if one of her male cohorts needs a day off. There’s
one other woman who passed all but one of her tests and is
now employed by one hotel in a private capacity to ferry guests
to and from the hotel’s entrance by gondola, but she’s
not allowed to go off her very limited route. If you happen
to catch a glimpse of Giorgia, you should feel very fortunate,
a €1 reservation to see St. Mark’s Basilica...
from getting lost in Venice, the top activity on my agenda
every time I’m in the city is a visit to St. Mark’s
easily the most popular attraction in the city, and it’s
blissfully free to enter. The trouble is that the line to
get in – especially during the high season – can
mean an hour or more of waiting. You can avoid that line,
however, by reserving
an entry time in advance online. Your reservation will
cost €1 (a small price to pay for a free attraction and
no waiting), and it grants you a 10-minute window in which
to enter the Basilica. Just show your reservation number and
time slot to the people at the door and you can waltz right
past the line. Just try not to look too smug as you bypass
those poor souls waiting in line – instant karma’s
gonna get you, and all that.
About the writer:
Jessica Spiegel is always keen to dispense Italy travel tips, whether
that involves Italian
trains or Italian
gelato – or anything in between. You’ll find her
at nearly all hours on Twitter as @italylogue.