CROWDS! How that many people pack themselves into those tiny spaces is beyond us, but remember, the nice thing about Venice is you can walk everywhere (unless you island hop in a boat) and the minute you move off the beaten path, you’re in a world of magic all your own. ARRIVE EARLY OR LATE… the middle of the day is hot, crowded, stinking, and miserable. (Go find a park and have a picnic to wait it out or, better yet, take a trip to PADOVA or VICENZA)
Don’t get me wrong, Venice is beautiful and mysterious and romantic, the trouble is finding it under the mounds of people that pile in every day. It was not a good first impression of Italy, I would have much rather gone to Florence first.
~Stella likes some personal space.
But Venice is unlike any other place on earth. Gondolas—a couple of great museums—and several quiet cafes with a nice breeze where you can sip iced coffee. But mostly Venice is simply walking around and getting to know it, and then walking some more.
WHERE YOU SHOULD GO:
LOTS OF TOURIST STUFF
Unlike London and Paris, the tourist stuff in Venice is legitimetly interesting. San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Accademia (the square over the bridge), the Domo’s palace… and if you want a whiff of the ocean try a boat to the coast and the beach.
Here’s the place with painting that started the Renaissance, mostly Giotto and early Italians. But also wonderful paintings that show you how rich andimportant Venice was during that time. However, beware of its “modern” art section. It’s small and at the end- thankfully. Masters of art in one epoch… ridiculous sideshow in another.
PEGGY GUGGENHIEM MUSEUM
Dear Peggy lived here and collected a lot of famous artists she liked. You’ll find unusual works by many of them. There’s also an exhibition hall, but don’t expect anything too exciting. Then again, you might be surprised.
Picasso does Klee… Klee does Miro… Miro does Dali… Dali does… Picasso? This is the most bizarre collection of art I’ve ever seen.
~Isaiah likes some consistency. Some.
Oh, who cares about any of that! This place is staffed entirely by young, attractive, intelligent foreign exchange students! Why can’t we have security guards like this back home?
~Tyson never did get that girls phone number.
Palladio is one of the most endearing of the Italian architects and he built many of the best examples of his work here. Move around, take boats from island to island, and find the Palladios.
WHERE TO EAT:
Food in Venice comes in three flavors: real authentic food at reasonable prices, real authentic food at tourist prices, and tourist food. You need to get far away from the tourist hot spots (San Marco, etc.) if you want any hope of good pasta. As for the high prices, well, you don’t need to spend that long in Venice anyway. Just expect to pay a bit more for a few days. Important note: real italians don’t eat pizza.
Outside of Venice is a little easier. One of the most amazing restaurants is located in a little Pension on one of the main highways in Padova called the CAFE AT THE HOTEL VENEZIA. It’s an upscale place that really has some of the finest pasta and greatest fish dishes and you’ll find yourself going back and back. As for places to eat inside of Venice, well, just try to avoid the other Americans and you should be ok.
WHERE YOU WANT TO GO:
In the evening, well after five, take a boat to Murano and experience what a peaceful place it can be. They blow glass during the day, but you can do without that. Just wander around, past the church, into the squares, stop for ice cream. Get the boat back at dusk (check the schedule so that you don’t miss the last one).
There was this kid, his mom was watching him from the window, and he was chasing butterflies around and she was hanging the laundry!
The town was completely deserted, but we walked into this bar to find a bidet, and there were about thirty men sitting around playing poker! It was quite bizarre!
If you find Venice full, or you just want to sleep somewhere less crowded and less expensive, try Padova. It’s less that a half-hour on the train, and a wonder all to itself. The town square fills with university students and townsfolk at night. They skate, but you can wander there as well.
VICENZA You’ll want to go spend the day in this extraordinary town which has as many of Palladio’s buildings as any other. The town square is an architecturalwonder, and visit the TEATRO OLIMPICA which is the very first proscenium theater. And remember, Italians take siestas, which means that after noon, you simply rest, sit and drink iced tea, feel the breeze where you can find it, wander back to the train station, and return to where you are staying. You’ll thank yourself.
I fell in love with Palladio in Vicenza. Precision and fleury seem to collaborate to create the genuinely ancient atmosphere. You really loose the track of time.
WHERE YOU WANT TO STAY:
Close to restaurants, cafes and shops, this Venice apartment overlooking Rialto and Piazza San Marco is only a few minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge and the ferry landing stage.
Photo credits from top:
City by the Sea by WTL photos
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci
Venecia by Rodrigo_Soldon
Murano Canal by sonofgroucho
Teatro Olimpico by arch_ibd
This story was brought up to us by the San Francisco Art and Film for teenagers