Venice is one of those
mystical, magical places that seems to embody much of the food, culture and
history that make Italy so revered. It's a place people idolize and dream of
one day visiting. The actual experience
can be somewhat different than expected, with hordes of tourists, sweltering
temperatures in the summer and inauthentic tourist traps lying everywhere.
Which isn't to say that the
magical Venice doesn't exist, it’s just that you may have to dig a littler
deeper for it. Here are five uniquely Venice experiences that are sure to live
up to the hype:
the Canals by Boat
Venice is best known for its
winding canals and the small boats that travel them. Many tourists opt for the
traditional route of hiring a private gondola. This classic option can cost you
quite a lot, expect to pay close to 100 euros for the privilege.
A more budget friendly (and
local) experience is to take the public water buses, known as vaporettos. For 7
euros you can ride any of the boats for an hour, for 24 euros you can get a 24
hour pass. Certain routes run straight up the famous Grand Canal, others pass
different highlights and even go all the way to Murano (see below). These
aren’t the fastest modes of transportation though, so make sure you have the
time to spend before hopping aboard.
at Saint Mark's Basilica
Nobody actually misses
Venice's major cathedral, and with good reason: it absolutely lives up to the
hype as one of the most unique and beautiful churches in all of Italy. Unlike
the dozens of Renaissance churches you will see down south, Saint Mark's is a
thousand year old example of Byzantine architecture with dramatic spires,
golden mosaics and elaborate arches. Nicknamed the Chiesa d'Oro (the Church of
Gold), the inside is filled with elaborate marble, silver and gold tiles. Try
to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Lost in the Alleyways
Getting lost in Venice is
both unmissable and unavoidable. Whether you plan for it or not, at some point
you will find yourself wandering the narrow alleyways without a clue as to
where you are. This is a good thing though; getting lost in Venice allows you
to truly explore what makes the city great: the secret passageways, decaying
mansions and abandoned piazzas. You will find hidden shops, tiny bakeries and
interesting details that aren't on any map.
Some Local Seafood
Venice doesn't really compete
with its neighboring provinces when it comes to food. Visitors who aren't sure
where to look may find themselves sorely disappointed as the food in tourist
restaurants is usually marked up and watered down.
Venice isn't the place to try
authentic pizza or ragu Bolognese but where it really excels is seafood. Find
the right local hole in the wall restaurant and you can try a variety of
delicacies from moleches (fried green crabs), to cuttlefish served with pasta
drenched in its own ink. The ink dyes the dish an alarming black color but the
taste is great.
the Neighboring Islands
Don't just limit your
explorations to the island of Venice itself. The surrounding area includes many
interesting towns and islands which make a terrific half-day trip. The island
neighborhood of Burano is known for it's rainbow-colored houses and relaxed
atmosphere. More famous is Murano, the island of the glassblowers, where
visitors can watch demonstrations and purchase all manner of hand-crafted glass
What is at the top of your
Venice wish list?