Your Weekend Guide To Venice
Writing a thorough city guide for a place like Venice is quite difficult. I have definitely been struggling over the past couple of weeks. I have consulted my mother, who I went with to Venice back in 2012, as well as my trusted travel guides. Venice, is a magical place, one of pure indulgence and intuition. This is why there is no way to tell you where exactly you should go, what the best most interesting places in this city are. It is a place you just have to discover.
So, despite what I assume is the common assumption, I’d say the first rule to discovering Venice is doing it by foot. (Although, boats are still a very convenient means of transportation.) To do so, get yourself a good pair of comfortable shoes, a map and a healthy sense of adventure. Leave any fears behind, because nothing is better than just getting lost in this beautiful city.
Venice is a wonderful city and is actually my favourite city so far. To me, it is the most romantic city as well. And yes, I have been to Paris. However, before we went to Venice, many people expressed their concerns about the smell of the canals. My mum and I went during the spring and the canals did not smell at all. People then said that they smelt the worst during the summer. Now, I also went to Venice during the summer a couple years later during the school trip. Still, the canals did not smell. I was only there for a day back then, so maybe it was just a good day.
However, I would still recommend travelling to Venice during spring for two reasons. If the canals really do smell during the summer, you’ll be better off during spring (of course). But, most importantly: spring is off-season. There are less tourists crowding the small alleyways, you actually get a seat in the small cafés and water-side restaurants and flights and hotels are cheaper. It is, in my opinion, a lot more fun to discover Venice in the off-season.
My mother and I were very lucky with our hotel. We got to stay at the Liassidi Palace Hotel, which is a very, very beautiful hotel. It’s hidden away in a small alley with a comfortable courtyard up front and an almost royal-looking interior. High ceilings, large golden chandeliers (cleaned by hand) and a view over a large canal from the breakfast and dining room. The rooms are classy but modern and super comfortable. We got lucky because my Mum is amazing and managed to get an incredible deal for the trip and the hotel. Otherwise, we probably would not have been able to afford it. If you can afford it or find a good deal, I can only highly recommend it.
Apart from that, I don’t imagine that Venice is particularly cheap. Being a very popular city, though, I believe that there are always deals to find online – especially for the off-season. Again, the off-season is the best time for any city trips when you’re on a budget. The views in Venice, even if it’s the back of a house or a row of balconies, are just beautiful.
Venice was made for sightseeing, whether that be the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) with the world’s most famous pigeons, the Cathedral and the various small cafés and restaurants that frame it beautifully, or the hundreds of gondolas that glide through the quiet, deep canals.
Of course, I want to give you a couple of tips to find some unique places in Venice, but I do not want to take away from the beauty of the best-known sightseeing places. They really have earned their fame.
From our hotel, we often crossed the St. Mark’s Square as we began our trek through the city each morning. One of the reasons this place and its architecture is so special to me, is a book. I am sure you have heard of its author, at least, although this book was also quite successful and was made into a film as well. I am talking about none other than Cornelia Funke, probably best known for Inkheart. As a German, I grew up with her books. One of these, which our elementary school teacher used to read it to us, was The Thief Lord. It takes place in Venice and it plays wonderfully with that magical and often eerie aura of the city. If you know the story as well as I do, you’ll know how significant the Winged Lion of St. Mark. Unfortunately, it didn’t move when I saw it.
Another place I highly recommend is the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). Since the late 600s, the Doges were a group of incredibly powerful men that reigned over this little city-state. They were some of the most powerful men in the world until the early 1000s, when their power was eventually taken away. Nowadays, they are not active anymore as there are no Doges left. But the palace is still there and it is a beautiful place to visit. One of my favourite parts was the Ponte dei Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs). The bridge leads from the Palazzo Ducale, where the court used to be, to the Palazzo delle Prigioni, where the dungeons are. This was the bridge criminals were led over from the court to the dungeons, so that they were away from the prying eyes of curious Venetians.
Of course, like so many Italian cities, Venice is a city full of beautiful art from almost all decades. The palaces and cathedrals are probably the best places to visit if you want to see old art of many, many centuries ago. However, I also want to point you in the direction of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. It’s a beautiful house, which made me feel like I had suddenly been transported to a small Greek island in the middle of Italy. Both the interior and the large garden are decorated with beautiful pieces of modern art.
There are two places I really wanted to highlight at the end of this article. The first one is Harry’s Bar. It’s a bar where celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin have been guests in. It’s small and close to the water with an old wooden interior. It is cosy and it is the place to drink Venice’s most famous drink: the Bellini. Bellini, if you haven’t heard of it before, is a prosecco drink mixed with peach juice. It is delicious and if you drink it in Venice, you have to drink it at Harry’s Bar.
The second place is the most wonderful little ice cream shop I have ever been to. It’s called Alaska and has some of the most exotic ice cream flavours, such as asparagus, ginger and artichoke. It is hidden away in one of the many winding alleys that allow you to get lost in Venice. It is a quiet place, hidden away from most tourists. We were the only guests at the time we found it.
Venice is the most beautiful city I have been allowed to visit so far and there is no other city I could recommend more whole-heartedly. There are so many places in this city that I couldn’t name, just because we randomly found them as we ventured through its millions of tiny alleyways. Really, you have to just get lost in this beautiful place and so each experience is unique and wonderful for the individual.