Summer is soon approaching, meaning Venice will soon be invaded by even more throngs of tourists .
Friends have asked me what I would recommend – well , the following….Face it though, there are tons of travel books and articles all citing their own favourite Venice and here’s my 2 cents worth.
There are 6 sestieri (districts) in Venice, they are San Marco, Dorsudoro, Castello, Canneregio, San Polo and Santa Croce. The most famous one is San Marco.
Piazza San Marco – try to attend the church service at the Basilica church on Sunday mornings or take the tour, please note if you have ruck sack you are required to deposit it because they are not allowed in the church tours. If you have the additional hours, do try the Secret Itinerary at the Doge’s Palace too which is just next door, or the regular tours.
Finishing it off with a view of the Bridge of Sighs (just around the corner of the Doge’s Palace) and a coffee and cake at either Laverna, Quadri or Cafe Florian on Piazza San Marco. Please note a cup of coffee there will be expensive. But hey do it for the experience! Cafe Florian– my personal favourite although the price is sky high but the history around it, the service and quality is still good hence worth a try. Apparently Italy’s oldest coffee bar – and Cassanova graced this haunt in those days. Henry James has been there, and so has Lord Byron, Marcel Proust and Goethe just to name a few more!
Rialto, the market area and the famous bridge – well Rialto competes with Piazza San Marco in terms of your early morning target. If you are interested to see the famous seafood market – you should aim to go there in the mornings. You will see gleaming fresh catch from the Adriatic sea.. and if you ask politely to taste the ‘scampi -crudi’ (raw) they may just oblige you – the fishmongers. Here you will also view the spectaculor polpo (octopus) , cuttlefish and the lagoon crustaceans unique in this region. The vegetable and fruit market is situated at the side and they are equally fun too browse in.
On the Rialto bridge itself, good place to take heaps of photos around, of and on the bridge.
For eats in Rialto, a quick cichetti or small sandwiches I recommend Al Marca next to the Rialto fish market (actually next door to a famous cheese and cold cuts shop called Casa del Parmiggiano). For a longer lunch experience, one can check out Bancogiro or Naranzaria facing the Grand Canal. Nice place for an evening aperitivo too. Go for the Prosecco or Spritz (either with Aperol or Campari).
The other campo worth chilling out in, is Campo Santa Margherita, a real student hang out but with nice sunny cafe spots. Coffee bars worth checking out are Cafe Rosso (great tramezzini – triangle sandwiches) and Imagina. Otherwise go grab a pizza at Al Volo – yummy. A slice costs €2. Sometimes there are art exhibitions or baskers there to entertain you.
And not too far from Campo Santa Margherita, you cross the Punti ai Pugni to San Barnaba and see the floating vegetable store on the canal side. There are several masks shops in San Barnaba too for you to check out.
Close by further as you walk towards the Accademia bridge, you will come by Al Bottegon Gia Schiavi (Fondamenta Nani) for good cichetti and prosecco or un’ombra (white wine) and not far from there on your way to Zattere, you can check out the San Trovaso gondola workshop. They still repair and make gondolas.
Along Zattere there is a nice little kiosk known as Al Chioschetto – good place for an evening aperitivo with great views across the Giudecca canal to Giudecca. Zattere is famous for its continuously sun soaked stretch!
The Accademia Gallery is worth a visit for art lovers and then you can climb Accademia bridge for more great photo taking shots up there on the Grand Canal and the Salute Church.
AND if you have more time,try to catch a performance at La Fenice , walk to Arsenale (attend one of their Biennale programmes) and go see more churches like :
- Church of Maria Santa Formosa (Castello)- one of the most beautiful churches
- Church of the Santissimi Apostoli (Canneregio) – famous frescoes
- Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (San Polo) – build in 15th Century
- Church of San Giacometto (San Polo) – oldest church built in 5th Century
And not forgetting the outer islands off Venice, ie Murano (for the glass making) and Burano (for the laces and colourful houses) and for the sun worshippers or beach – there is Lido.
Gondola or not? As recommended by many guidebooks and it is true, a trip on the gondola can cost you from €90 to €150 for a 45 mins ride depending on the season – sometimes if you are lucky you can bargain the price down to €60-€70. One way to have the gondola experience minus the big price tag, take the traghetto from Rialto market to cross to Ca D’oro. It is a boat looking like the gondola but with 2 rowers one on each end – you get to cross the Grand Canal for about 75cents or €1. Or do the water bus line 1 , a nice trip along the Grand Canal and lots of photo taking opportunities.
Other museums/palazzi worth checking out:
- Ca’ Rezzonico (Dorsudoro)
- Ca’ D’oro (Canneregio)
- Peggy Guggenheim (Dorsudoro)
- Palazzo Grassi
- Palazzo Ducale
- Palazzo Moncenigo
Eating places – others worth trying are :
- Osteria Ai Quattro Feri – for reasonably priced seafood and fish (San Barnaba-Dorsudoro)
Calle Lunga, San Barnaba – tel no:+39 041 520 6978
- Osteria Alle Testiere – seafood and fish , finer cooking but a very small place and packed (Castello)
San Lio, Calle Del Mondo Novo – tel no:+39 041 522 7220
- Impronta Ristorante/Bar – reasonably priced pasta with fish and meat choices, including burger and fries (Dorsudoro)
3815-3817 San Pantalon – tel no: +39 041 275 0386
- La Zucca – for vegetarians and reasonably priced(San Polo)
1762 Santa Croce, Calle Del Tintor / Ponte Del Megio di San Giacomo – tel no:+39 041 524 1470
- Trattoria Antiche Carampane – pricey but great seafood (San Polo)
1911 San Polo – Tel no: +39 041 524 0165
- Ostaria Antica Dolo – venetian classics and friendly service
Ruga Rialto 778, Rialto – Tel no: +39 041 522 6546
- Il Refolo – pizza
Santa Croce 1459 – Campo San Giacomo Dell’Orio – Tel no: +39 041 524 0016
- Paolin at Campo Santo Stefano
- Millevoglie at Campo Santa Maria Gloriosa
- Il Doge at Campo Santa Margherita
- Grom at San Barnaba
- next to Al Bottegon Gia Schiavi (the cichetti shop) by San Trovaso..think the name is Lo Squero!
- Rosa Salva at Castello
Cakeshops, I would say Majer or Tonolo (Dorsudoro) and the bakeries along Strada Nuova on Canneregio.
You see the best thing about Venice is , it is a magical city and even if you do get lost on your way somewhere, you will stumble upon a little secret place only you may know.. (although the thing is how do you get back there if you like it so much?) Everywhere is a photo happy place in this city whether it is all dolled up or run down! That is her charm!
Links to check out:
Last but not least, for everyone’s knowledge, there ARE traffic rules in Venice as pedestrians. I can fully sympathise with the locals who are in a hurry going about their day to day errands but being constantly disrupted by tourist traffic especially during peak seasons like June/July and September. Here are a few helpful tips to ensure everyone gets to enjoy the city including the residents.
1) DO NOT SIT on bridges or steps of the bridges. You ultimately end up blocking or creating a backlog to the walking traffic of the city.
2) When walking make sure you do so in a moderate pace, keeping to the right and if you do decide to stop and stare or take photos, please look around and DO NOT JUST STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATHWAY!
3) If you hear a loud shout ‘ ATTENTIONE’ give way, it is normally the delivery chap going about with their heavy load You don’t want to get hurt when they roll over your toes if you don’t move away!
4) Taking photos of your surroundings are more than welcome, but PLEASE do not take FOREVER – some of us are kind enough to stop and allow you to take your perfect shot but we can’t wait forever for you either!