The City of Love
When it comes to romantic backdrops, you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere better than Venice, Italy. Known as The City of Love, Venice sits along the coast of northeast Italy. The city has gone by several nicknames over the years to include The Floating City, City of Canals, City of Bridges, City of Water, and City of Masks to name a few. Venice is actually a collection of islands separated by the famous canals. This backdrop makes for one of the most unique and picturesque travel destinations in the world.
Things to Do and See
Navigating Venice is probably a little different than what you are used to at home or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Mainly, because there are no cars or roads for cars to drive on. The main way to get around is the vaporetto boats or water buses as some call them. It operates like any other bus except it’s on the water. If you need to take a more direct route someplace, then you can call a water taxi. However, Venice isn’t that big and there are bridges crossing all of the canals. So, walking isn’t out of the question and you’ll probably find some areas that would otherwise miss.
Piazza San Marco / Basilica di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square / Basilica)
St. Mark’s Square is the social center of Venice as it is the largest open area in the city. There you will find plenty of attractions, museums, shops, and cafes, so this is where many visitors tend to congregate. The square opens up to the Grand Canal while St. Mark’s Basilica stands over the east end. You are allowed to go inside of the basilica, but you may not be able to enter on Sundays during service or some religious holidays.
The Venetian masks are a signature part of the Venice culture. People can be seen year-round wearing the mask or full costume, but they are more prominent during Carnival leading up to Lent. There are several places where you can learn about the history of the masks, see them being made, or even create your own. But if you decide to purchase any mask, make sure you check it before you do. Even though you’re in Venice, there’s a good chance there could be a “Made in China” stamp inside.
No trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride through the canals. A couple riding in these flat bottomed boats while the gondolier serenades them is probably the image that comes to most people’s minds when you mention the city. While you can take a tour of the larger canals, there is a lot to be said for exploring some of the smaller, less congested waterways. Keep in mind that the gondola rides are not cheap, and since they don’t have any cover, you may want to dress for the weather.
The streets and back alleys of Venice can be a bit confusing if not outright frustrating. But that is by design. The streets were designed to confuse pirates if the city was raided. Even with GPS, you can still get turned around. But this also provides an opportunity for visitors to wander around and get lost in the maze that is the city. Plus, this gives you a chance to find some of the smaller, less-traveled of the 400 bridges crossing the canals.
Tip: If you find a hotel that’s not off of the main canals, you may want to arrange a meeting point with someone from the hotel.
Venice doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene, at least not in the traditional sense. A night out in Venice is more like having cocktails at a cafe overlooking the canals with appropriately volumed music in the background. There are some decent bars, wine bars, and pubs, but don’t expect them to stay open very late. There is also a casino that closes pretty early as well. If nightlife is a must for you, then you may want to stay in Venice’s mainland, Mestre. However, that defeats the purpose of visiting Venice. I’ve heard that Lido can get pretty busy on the weekends.
Venice doesn’t have its own cuisine, but the coastal Veneto region where Venice is located offers a style unique to the rest of the country. Think of traditional Italian dishes with more seafood. If Italian food isn’t your thing (yes, there are some out there), there are enough international style restaurants to find something you like.
A trip to Venice is going to be on the expensive side. Hotel rooms aren’t too outrageous, but dining can be a bit pricey. Transportation around Venice adds up quickly if you aren’t walking, especially water taxis. There are two airports, but a lot of the flights are seasonal and not daily. So, you may have to factor in other modes of transportation.
Overall, Venice has a pretty low crime rate. However, like many other tourist destinations, pickpocketing and scams can be a problem. Using common-sense precautions and being aware of your surroundings can help avoid these situations. One thing to keep in mind is that Venice is prone to flooding. October through January is the high tidal season, but flooding can happen at any time of the year.
Description: The City of Love
Things to Do and See
The City of Love
Lack of nightlife
Flooding could be an issue