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Venice’s Time To Shine

November 4, 2013

You’ve seen it in the opening scene of the Italian Job — Venice, the aquatic and charming Italian city. So why not take a trip? Venice is more than just heists and high speed canal boat chases, it is the perfect place for an adventurous, romantic, or even exotic trip.

Venice today is almost exactly how it was 500 years ago, with one major difference — there are now more tourists than actual residents. Though some of the major attractions and infrastructure have started to crumble, the charm of old Italy still pulsates through the canal streets and rings from the top of the churches.

So add Venice to your list and experience a city that is truly unique—a little bit of old charm, new adventures, and a blast of history. Here are a few travel tips for your Venice vacation:

Prepared to be waterlogged

Venice is the world’s largest aquatic city, and not just because it rains nearly year round. It has more than 150 canals weaving their way through the 117 bodies of land, connected by a maze of more than 400 bridges. Wherever you go and however you decide to get to Venice (plane, train, etc.), know that you will always end up on a water taxi or waterbus. Luckily, some of those moments can be the best of your trip. Ride the waterbus down the Grand Canal at sunset for some magnificent views of the city. And it might seem stereotypical, but a gondola ride is also a great way to experience the city. These rides tend to be on the more expensive side, so try to bargain your way down.

Once you feel like you’ve got a handle on how to get around the waterway maze, be on the lookout for acqua alta, or high water. The streets and town squares tend to get flooded for a few hours around high tide. Ask around and try to get a high water map to give you an idea of when and where it will strike, so you don’t end up flooded out of your most anticipated stop.

Eat Your Heart Out

What good is a trip to Italy without trying some of the world’s best cuisine? In Venice you can get all of the classic Italian fare on canal-side cafés or fancy restaurants. Venice tends to put its own spin on classic meals by adding their signature cuttlefish—the ink of which is used in sauces for all kinds of dishes. Be on the lookout for “seppia” on the menu if you want to give it a try.

Venice also has a great wine and cheese selection, and because of the strong tourism industry, most places will ship the products anywhere in the world. The gourmet I Tre Mercanti wine and food shop has a great selection of over 1,500 Italian products, including oils and wines. Workers will take you on a journey to help you find the perfect wine. Buy a bottle for now and have a bottle (or three) sent back home.

If you want to do more than just eat the great food, cooking classes are a great option. There are several cooking schools for tourists around town, but one of the most intimate is Isa’s Cooking School, taught by the famous Mama Isa. Learn to make pasta, pizza, or tiramisu in classes that max out at three people.

See the Sights

Venice is full of history and so many things to see. Although it is a fairly small city, each inch is full of history. Prioritize your must-see list to ensure you hit everything you want — it is easy to get distracted with attractions on every corner. Piazza San Marco and St. Mark’s Basilica are a must for any trip to Venice.

Basilica tours are just 10 minutes long, but the wait can be hours. If you don’t want to stand in line and people watch, splurge and reserve a ticket online. Plan your wardrobe ahead, because people in shorts and bare shoulders aren’t allowed in St. Mark’s. On the plus side, admission to the basilica is free, although the upstairs museum and view of the high altar and treasury each charge a fee.

The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Venice and provides great views of the canals and historic buildings. Next to the bridge is the Rialto Market, which features a farmers market and lots of other shops that are less expensive than shopping at the popular Piazza San Marco.

If museums are your thing, six museums at Saint Mark’s are covered by one admission ticket. These include the popular Correr Museum and Doge’s Palace, full of Roman antiques and pieces from the 16th century. Twelve more museums are covered on an additional museum pass.

Maybe the true Venice heist is that no matter your reason for visiting, the city will soon steal your heart.

What are your Venice travel tips? What would you do with just one day in the city? Share your ideas and experiences on the comments, and plan your visit to Venice on Trekeffect!

Michelle Kaiser

Michelle Kaiser