With little change in six hundred years, 435 bridges still link 121 islands, which still provides endless waterways and walkways (calli), to explore eternal Venice by boat or on foot.
The romantic charm of Venice draws a staggering 30 million visitors each year – a figure that speaks volumes – although its population is less than 60,000.
Venice is as gorgeous as ever and holds a plethora of many beautiful sights – it’s not a myth. I’ve only listed a few popular ones here as this blog is already quite long.
Although some things have changed since the last visit in 2009, others haven’t.
Something noticeable on this visit in 2017 is the amount of Asian (especially Chinese) tourists here with even 2 Asian restaurants on Venice’s main strip. A McDonald’s and a Burger King also ‘grace’ the main strip. What a horrible surprise and very distraught about these fast-food establishments in this exquisite city, but not surprising as money talks…
The famous Golden Arches adverts are plastered on bins around Venice, spoiling this ancient city and is extremely disappointing – it’s as though Venice has sold its soul.
Check out Venice’s most famous area where main monuments and sights are located in the main districts (Sestieri): Castello, Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce, and San Marco.
Squero di San Trovaso
Spend enchanted days wandering around the alleyways and districts, getting lost, and taking loads of photos.
Maybe you’ll bump into the 17th-century Squero di San Trovaso landmark boatyard, still crafting and repairing Gondolas.
Always very busy but much more so during the world-famous Carnevale di Venezia, the Rialto Bridge offers a great vantage point for photos, if you can manage to squeeze your way onto the bridge.
Evenings are a little quieter than daytime with many day-trippers gone.
St. Mark’s Square
This square is always busy but even more so during Carnivale and especially around 11am, when the costume judging takes place.
The elegant and aged square is a famous area of Venice but beware, this is also famous for ripping off tourists – even for just a coffee, prices are prohibitively expensive.
The Venetian Ghetto was the first ghetto established in 1516. Before this date, political restrictions on Jewish rights and residences existed. This is still Venice’s Jewish centre today.
As this area is just that little bit off the Venetian tourist trail and further out, you can experience pockets of quietness in this part of Venice, and so, it’s my favourite spot in Venice.
Typically, accommodation is also a little cheaper here and is better value-for-money.
Murano and Burano
Although we didn’t visit these two captivating Venetian islands on this visit, they’re worth a mention as both are great destinations, and thoroughly enjoyed this day trip in 2009.
Murano is world-famous for its glass-making craftsmen whilst Burano is renown for hand-made lace and its brightly coloured buildings.
Should you have time, these two islands make for a pleasant day trip (or longer stay) and the Vaporetto ride is relaxing.
Travel from southern Italy to Venice
Situated at the very north-eastern region of Italy and under a 3-hour’s drive to Slovenia, Treviso Airport is the quickest way to reach Venice.
A Ryan Air domestic flight from Lamezia Airport in Calabria to Treviso Airport only takes around an hour and a half.
Treviso Airport is approximately an hour’s bus ride to Piazzale Roma, in Venice.
On arriving at the bus terminal and catching the Vaporetto (public water bus) Line 1 in the Lido Direction, we stop at the ATVC Marcuola stop. Meeting Laura (apartment’s owner), head off to our new home for 9 evenings.
The Vaporetto fare is expensive and rather walk everywhere. You can buy more economical travel cards.
Where to sleep
Apartamento Maddalena Cannaregio is definnitely a room with a view!
The front gate leads into a well-manicured courtyard garden and up to massive timber doors adorned with brass knobs. Stroll through this door and an ancient columned stone-tiled area awaits.
On the right, is another closed but smaller quaint courtyard. On the left, a wide glass door frames a vista of the Grand Canal with Gondolas gliding quietly past – a living Italian Renaissance painting.
Pontoons lead out over the Canal – a great spot for taking photos.
A set of high wrought-ironed gates, more heavy timber doors, and we’re at the entrance to the apartment’s foyer.
Leading up several very aged stone steps and through to another heavy timber door with brass ancient handles, opens into the kitchen and the authentic 14th-century Venetian apartment. A magnificent rendevous with stepping back in time.
Ornate plaster adorns ceilings and walls. Authentic original art embellishes most walls. Laura (owner) mentioned restoration is necessary every 5 or so years, as Venice’s dampness eats into the paintings and plaster.
From the lounge room window, the ever-changing view of the Grand Canal is gorgeous and resting with a coffee whilst watching Venice go by is witnessing a moving painting.
The nine-night stay is for my partner’s birthday as I wanted a special authentic Venetian apartment, with a memorable view. The location is also excellent.
If you use a non-Euro credit card when booking with Airbnb, take note of your final charge. Airbnb charges an additional 3% conversion fee on top of the displayed charge, and is hidden in the final total and not itemised. Emailing Airbnb regarding this extra charge, I’m still waiting for a response.
Where to eat
Although the apartment is fully equipped, still eat out a lot.
If you want to save money, then stand up and eat lunch at a restaurant/Bar, as sitting down at a table is much more expensive.
Spaghetteria 6342 a le Tole Pizzeria
Definitely my first choice for Venice!
Had the best meal in Venice by far at Spaghetteria on Barbaria de le Tole, Castello 6342, so returned again as this restaurant is an addiction.
The glassed kitchen with busy chefs and the continuous opening door to the kitchen is hectic throughout the night. If you don’t reserve a table, you won’t get in – it really is that busy.
As cuttlefish and its ink are one of Venice’s trademarks, try the freshly made scrumptious Sepia pasta with scallops or the delicious Tagliolini Gamberoni. The pizza is also great. The pasta dish with veal cheek so tender that it just falls apart, washed down with a bottle of Merlot is divine. Follow this up with the most wonderful Tiramisu laced with berry coulis and topped with a flake of chocolate.
The service is excellent, the food is amazing, and the ambience is pleasantly loud and unpretentious.
Live music – musician with an instrument – plays each night and everything flows smoothly in this very professional restaurant. All pasta is handmade in-house.
On Malileo SAS di Camoli D and for €5, experience a Magnum ice-cream drizzled with wonderful toppings, covered with anything from Goji berries, chocolate chips, nuts, M&M’s, and more. Wash your ice cream down with an espresso. Super busy and with a little side-show while watching staff create your personalised Magnum.
Excellent café on Via Cannaregio, 3102 that sells only massive toasts with delicious fillings. A huge meal in itself, you won’t need anything else.
Small but super busy with locals and foreign tourists, as it’s one of the cheaper eats in Venice for toasts, hot chips, Cappuccino. Great staff and music in this cute little modern café.
Vyta Santa Margherita
At the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station, enjoy a wonderful coffee, snack, cake or pastry, which is the cheapest in Venice.
Relax 8 Caffe Caffetteria
Loads of seating and free wi-fi in this new, clean, and modern café at Venezia Santa Lucia railway station. Good coffee, cakes, and snacks. Toilets are free if you buy something.
The first night’s meal in Venice and on Cannaregio 2288, it isn’t too bad. It seems that many restaurants are either run by Pakistani, North Africans, or Chinese. What happened to Italian Chefs?
Good pizza, nice dessert, and half-litre carafe house wine for €20+, with good service in a nice restaurant. Don’t forget the 10% service charge at the end.
Typically, in Venice, you are charged Cover and Service charges. Some establishments charge one or the other, and some charge both – check the bottom of the menu.
The Wild West
For a burger or fix other than pasta or pizza, this is your place on Strada Nuova, 3660/A. Decorated in wild west fashion, if you can get past the country music of which I’m not a great fan, then you can have a pleasant meal.
Good service and food: wine or beer and a meal for under €20.
A franchise found throughout Venice. Serves great coffee, pastries, snacks, muffins, and provides a seating area.
On San Polo, 2807/C, prices advertised on the outside window are not the same as when you sit down. Regardless, it’s a lovely pub and not too dissimilar to an old-world English pub.
Very busy with tourists offering house wine and an average Panini in warm and cosy surrounds, on this chilly and overcast Venetian winter’s day.
Venice is home to several supermarkets.
Pick up cheap pre-made yummy eats, groceries, and most things you need at this COOP on Via Cannareggio 3660, if you’re in a self-contained apartment.
On Via Cannareggio 1976 is a second COOP and also well-stocked, offering almost anything at much cheaper prices than Venice street stalls.
Good supermarket on Cannaregio 1939/1952 to stock up but a little more expensive than both COOPs.
A few shops are worth a mention.
Art Marco Venice
You can’t leave Venice without buying the obligatory mask, but beware, many Chinese copies are sold in the main tourist streets.
This tiny shop on Salizada S. Antonin Castello 3486, is barely large enough to squeeze four people standing. Masks are handmade from papier-mâché.
Kastroit (an artist that paints the masks) is charming, friendly, and looks after you whilst selling you a mask at a fair price, which comes with a genuine receipt and guarantee.
Thought I’d throw this one in as this was the only place open to get some documents printed from a USB stick although not cheap. The shop is on Castello 6662/A.
Selling Italian books, this shop on Dorsoduro 1213 also sells greeting cards if you’re desperate for a greeting card.
Having first visited Venice in 2009, I can’t believe the changes eight years later.
One main change is that many of the previously Italian-run restaurants are now run by Chinese, Albanians, or Arabians. What happened to the Italian chefs in Venice?
Most of the food around the popular tourist areas are the same expensive prices for the same tasteless meals and very disappointing.
Luckily, we can buy fresh ingredients to make meals in the self-catering apartment.
Trieste day trip
A train trip to Trieste is a perfect escape for the day. Especially, as Trieste is another stunning city and only around two hours east of Venice.
Saying goodbye to Venice is always hard as is the kilometre-plus walk lugging gear to the bus station, to catch a comfortable bus back to Treviso airport.
Albeit small, Treviso’s Departures does offer a few eateries for pizza slices, coffee, and Brioche.
Returning to Cosenza, Calabria
Ryan Air is on time – always a great start and we arrive at Lamezia Termine on time – amazing.
Great to be back in Cosenza and love the feel of this city. The way people chat the day away and generally live life.
The southern Italian warmth is as though someone flicked the Summer switch on. Lovely and sunny, and a great way to end a fantastic Venice jaunt during Carnivale.