Immerse yourself amongst the serene waterways of the North
My grandparents visited Venice each year for a number of years and stayed at the same hotel each time without fail. They would return to tell me how the owner of the hotel now reserved the same room for them whenever they called to book and the excitement in their eyes was priceless as they boasted how they were now on first name terms. The Hotel Bucintoro still welcomes many visitors and stands tall and proud in the Arsenale district of Venice.
You'll first lay eyes upon Venice and her beauty from above as you approach the runway at Marco Polo airport. From the skies its picturesque and postcard like but if you approach Venice by boat, it's a sight you'll always remember as the open mouth of the Grand Canal engulfs you as you enter the city. For those that prefer a slightly more cost effective but less glamourous transfer from the airport, there is a shuttle bus that will take you to the closest point that vehicles are allowed (Piazzale Roma) to which you can then hop on the Vaporetto (water bus) to your chosen stop.
There are a couple of myths surrounding Venice which I will first put to bed before sharing with you a few of my favourite hidden gems within the city. The first myth is that 'Venice smells'. This is probably the most common myth and having been lucky enough to visit more times than I can count on one hand, I can honestly say, I have not once encountered a bad smell of any kind. On the contrary in fact, I have only enjoyed the smell of freshly baked pizza dough and the smell of fresh seafood whilst strolling through the famous Rialto fish market. So actually, maybe it's not a myth after all. Venice does smell - of all things nice!
The second myth is that 'Venice is expensive'. Like any city in the world, and Venice is no exception, you do have to be careful not to be taken in by the 'tourist menu' which like anywhere sounds great on paper but in fact offers only a fraction of the portion size that the main menu may offer. As much as the tourist areas such as St Marks Square and the Rialto are beautiful, you will pay to dine around these areas so I would recommend heading away from these slightly and you will see the prices decline. There are many, many places to eat and drink in Venice that offer fantastic value. So now that the myths are out of the way, let's talk about the fact
I have many hidden gems that i can share with you but for now I will concentrate on my top three. You may or may not have heard of the venetian style tapas called 'cicchetti'. The below picture is one of many walk in cantina's that you can visit in Venice that serve cicchetti. These small and very welcoming bars were originally opened to offer the many working venetians a cost effective place to stop for a glass of wine and a small snack on their way home from work. The cicchetti is a small piece of fresh bread with a variety of delightful toppings to choose from such as bacalau, prawns and zucchini. For around one euro per portion, these make for a fantastic early evening snack if you are planning a late dinner. Accompanied by a glass of wine for as little as two euros, you can see why these are very popular hangouts for both locals and tourists alike.
Whilst in Venice, a visit to the colourful island of Murano is a must. Famous for its glass, Murano is a short twenty minute ride on the vaporetto from Venice and is well worth a visit. If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Venice then Murano offers a much more tranquil setting and a stroll along the waterways amongst the colourful buildings should leave you feeling relaxed and raring to go again. Make sure you visit the glass blowing factory and the various small boutique style shops selling various shapes and sizes of Murano glass.
Lastly, although at certain times of the day it can be extremely busy, St Marks square at night is something to behold. Cafe's surround the square and as evening descends, pianists, violinists and other very talented musicians, take to the stage to serenade their guests. As one orchestra ends, the next cafe along begins. The music brings the evening to life amidst the grand surroundings making for a very atmospheric occasion. One thing to be aware of is that it is obviously free to stand and listen outside of the cafe but anything but free if you choose to sit for a drink. I have heard that it can cost as much as fifteen euros for just a coffee!
Exploring Venice is very easy indeed and one of the most popular ways to do this is by vaporetto. As mentioned briefly earlier in the post, the vaporetto is a water bus that travels up and down the main canals making stops along the way for visitors to embark or disembark. There are various routings on offer that will take you to the likes of Murano, the Lido and other islands and also the main number one service that travels up and down the Grand Canal. Three and seven day passes can be purchased and do work out more cost effective than the one day pass. These passes allow you to hop on and off as much as you like.
I have many more secrets that i can share of my experiences and time whilst in Venice. This city is truly unique and unlike other cities that may have slight similarities with others, Venice really is like no other. You will be blown away and mesmerised by her beauty and no doubt be drawn into returning again and again.
For more information, please do feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have before booking your trip to Venice.