After spending the Christmas weekend in France with family (much like I did 2 years ago), I made my way to Paris to catch a flight onto Venice where I would be spending the next 6 days. I had been to Venice once before, but that was when I was 12, so a refresher visit was long over-due.
By good fortune, one of my colleagues had spent 9 months as an exchange student in Venice, and knew the island intimately. Wanting to know local secrets, I got the download from my colleague on the best places to eat and explore in Venice. Staying in Venice for 6 days is actually quite a lengthy period of time, as the island isn’t all that large. This was therefore a fairly chilled holiday, in that I really managed to take my time, visiting the corners of the island and beyond. Consequently, I feel like I’ve got heaps to blog about, so I’m going to structure my post as a series of categories, over a number of individual posts.
- Local charm
- Main tourist attractions
- Local shops
- Getting around
- Murano, Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello
- The Dolomites
Venice is one of the busiest tourist spots in the world, which led to me deciding to visit in wintry December when I thought tourist numbers would be lower. Whilst that might be the case, visiting in winter increases the likelihood of coming across rain, wind and flooding. I was super lucky however, as the sun was out the entire time I was there, with no wind or rain and temperatures at around 7-8 C in the day time. There were still crowds of tourists (difficult to avoid really), but planning time away from the centre of Venice helped to keep me sane.
Despite the mass tourist numbers, Venice still manages to retain its local charm. It helps that many businesses that set up shop tend to stay in place as things rarely change with tourism being so constant.
One of the aspects of Venice I love is the sight of locals airing their (clean) laundry on traditional drying lines, against crumbling, cracking buildings, just above the throngs of international visitors walking below.
A local habit which I didn’t enjoy as much was the amount of dog poo and pee left on the narrow streets. I walked around looking down half the time to avoid stepping in all things brown and mushy.
I had some good food, and not so good food in Venice, which can happen in any city. I’d venture forward to say though, that because Venice is so catered towards tourists and there are so many restaurants and cafes everywhere, it’s very easy to pick a run-of-the-mill tourist establishment to eat at, which might not be all bad, but certainly wouldn’t be anything to shout about.
Much like the rest of Italy, you can expect to find lots of pizzerias and gelaterias. Pretty much all of the restaurants in Venice are Italian, offering standard Italian appetisers, hand-made fresh pastas, meats and wine. Rarely for me, I also got my fill of some of the Italian pastries and sweets on display, from tiramisu to biscotti and cream-filled baked goods.
Here’s a list of some of my favourites eating places in Venice.
Pizza: Pizza al Volo
content/uploads/2016/12/thumb_IMG_1133_1024-600×450.jpg” alt=”One of Venice's top pizzas at the Pizza al Volo – Venice, Italy” width=”600″ height=”450″ class=”size-large wp-image-3825″ /> One of Venice’s top pizzas at the Pizza al Volo[/caption]
Gelato: Gelatoteca SuSo (offers a vegan option), Quanto Basta. Note: even though La Boutique del Gelato was voted one of Venice’s best gelaterias, I thought it was rather poor and would avoid it.
It’s easy to get fed up with the amount of cheese and egg in every meal, so if that happens, get some fruit and veg from the many fresh produce stalls around town (especially in the Rialto Market).
When I think of coffee, the country I most associate it with is Italy (lattes! cappuccinos!). In reality though, Italian coffee is nothing like the stuff we drink in UK or the US, with a latte literally meaning milk and cappuccinos only drunk before 12pm (espressos are the default coffee from lunch time onwards). Not used to the Italian coffee culture, I didn’t end up drinking a lot of coffee, but I did manage to try this little gem of a cafe which roasts its own coffee beans on-site.
Read the next post in the series – An Extensive Guide to Venice, Italy: Tourist Attractions & Shops