Turn left, then left again. Now try a right, and maybe another left. It probably won’t get you anywhere in particular very quickly, but who’s in a rush?
A trip to the beautifully unique Italian hub of Venice isn’t a success without a visit to Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge and a ride along the endless canal system. We know that. But what about all the hidden, not-so-known cultural treasures nestled deep inside the magical maze of shoulder-width streets and waterways?
They’re equally inspiring. And just as memorable.
Given the complexity of the ‘floating’ city network many tourists will be inclined to shove their noses into a city map and take a carefully-plotted route from A to B. Or they’ll test their long-range hearing behind an over-subscribed tour guide who takes you to “all the best sites”, via his friends’ over-priced shops and restaurants.
Of course there is nothing wrong with either of those options, but our 4-day Venetian adventure was much more enjoyable when we made a conscious effort to get ‘lost’.
Squeezing down tiny alleyways and crossing nifty canal bridges without an end destination in mind helped us find some local gems away from the crowds each day – and kept us well fed!
From little cicchetti stalls to street markets by day, and to quieter, less expensive restaurants by night, losing all sense of direction served us well. And the beauty of it is you’re never too far from “the beaten track”.
We did still set aside plenty of time to tick off the “must do” attractions, though (and plenty of time is what you’ll need if you’re there in peak season).
The provinces of San Marco, San Polo and Dorsoduro are all packed with hundreds of architectural feasts for the eyeballs – the Square and Basilicas included – and a day trip to Murano and Burano is certainly worth considering for their glass museums and rainbow-coloured terraces.
A look around the Venetian mask shops is also a source of entertainment in itself. Some offer an interactive experience, with costumes dished out and masks are made before your eyes. However, others appear to lack that authenticity yet still charge just as much (if not more).
Steer clear of the expensive tourist gondolas and hop on a Traghetto – a local canal boat costing as little as €2 per journey!
Venice is not a cheap place to go, but there are ways to fulfil those photo opportunities without throwing away those Euros.
One such way is to avoid the mainstream tourist gondolas (charging €100+) like the plague and instead opt for a public Traghetto, costing as little €2 per trip across the Grand Canal.
The journey only takes a couple of minutes, so if you run out of time before getting that perfect pic, just hop back on!
You’ll still be over €90 richer…
Dream. Travel. Smile
Thanks for reading … JF