Venice with a Venetian

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Top view of Venice Gran Canal from the old post office

Venice is without doubt one of the most unique cities one could ever visit. Walking through its magical narrow streets called “calli”you can discover its ancient history, arts and cultures. Every corner of the city seems to have its own historical and artistic significance, and one can easily find entire library shelves that can tell you about Venice’s story.

However, for most visitors it can be quite difficult to get off the main tourist track and to get a feeling of the real Venetian vibe. In many cases though, tourists fail to understand an important feature of Venice: Hello folks, people actually live there! And if you are one of those who live there, either a local or an adopted Venetian, you’ll be very familiar with a series of bizarre questions. Surely you will have met the tourist that asks at what time Venice closes (yes, the one who thinks he’s visiting an open air museum), and the one who enquirers in a very doubtful manner about the existence of schools and hospitals.

If you are particularly lucky, you’ll also have found the type of tourist that spends one whole week wondering around the city before asking where all the cars have disappeared. So, if you do want to have a friendly approach towards local inhabitants, you should definitely know that ordinary people lead ordinary lives in Venice, where children go to school and museums are confined to buildings, as in any other city. But most of all, you should know that you are not going to see any cars there, not after two, three or four entire weeks!

Logistically it would also be quite impossible. There are more than 450 bridges in Venice, which makes it difficult even to ride a bike!

 

Arrival

Cheap flight tickets to Venice, Italy can always be obtained here. Moderate booking time: at least a month ahead. Just make sure to compare them prices well and book efficiently.

How to get from Venice airport to Venice island: Once you arrive to Venice Marco Polo Airport, you have two options to get to Venice island: either you get the Alilaguna Boat to Venice Lido, S. Marco, Rialto or Fondamente Nuove 15 € one way, http://www.alilaguna.it/ or you get the ACTV Bus Line 5 that takes you to Venice Piazzale Roma and costs 8€ http://actv.avmspa.it/.

What To Do

 

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Piazza S. Marco, Saint Mark’s Square.
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Piazza S. Marco, Saint Mark’s Square.

Although it is the most touristic thing one could ever do, you cannot leave Venice without having visited the great Piazza S. Marco, Saint Mark’s Square. You can get into the Cathedral Basilica di San Marco, and get a wonderful view of Venice from the high bell tower, il Campanile di San Marco. You will notice that there is a recurring symbol, not only in the square but throughout the city. It is the lion with the wings, which represents the city’s patron, the Evangelist St. Mark and is the symbol of Venice and of its ancient Republic

 

Gondola

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Gondola
Gondola

Worldwide attraction number 2 is the gondola, a traditional Venetian rowing boat propelled by a gondolier, a man typically dressed with a stripy shirt that will take you around the most characteristic canals. It is considered as a must do for tourists in Venice, but it is definitely not suitable for everyone’s wallet.

 

Bovolo

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Bovolo

La Scala del Bovolo  is also called the Hidden Treasure of Venice because it was built in a labyrinth of “calli” and canals, just a few steps away from Campo Manin. The beautiful external spiral staircase recalls the shape of a snail, which in Venetian is in fact called Bovolo

 

Fontego dei Tedeschi

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Fontego dei Tedeschi

Near Rialto, the building Fontego dei Tedeschi, that used to be the old central post office, is now full of luxurious shops and has a terrace on the last floor that offers an amazing view of the Gran Canal. Unless you are interested in designer clothes and are ready to spend a fortune, I would skip the stores and go directly to the terrace.

 

Muranero Art

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Muranero Art

If you want to buy a typical but at the same time unusual souvenir, make sure you visit the shop Muranero (3545, Castello) Moulaye is a Senegalese glass bead maker that had the chance to meet and learn from the best glass Masters in Murano, and that blends Venetian style with his African roots.

 

Traveling Around The Beautiful Canals in Venice

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Venice canals
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Venice water-boat taxi

Public transport is very expensive for visitors, ranging from 7.50 € for one ticket (lasting 75 min.), to 20€ for a daily ticket and a weekly pass costing 60€. However, if you find accommodation on the island you will not need to take the boat every day. The best way to discover Venice is to wonder around, not only it is quicker but it also gives you the chance to find places that you otherwise would not see.
Forget about taxis unless you are a rich and famous movie star.

 

Taste The Tradition

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Venetian Spritz drink served with baccala mantecato (saltfish)

A big part of Venetian, and more in general of Italian life, is its cuisine. The best way to get a taste of typical Venetian food is to visit its numerous “Bacari”, traditional bars where they serve “cicchetti”, small appetizers usually accompanied by a good glass of wine or prosecco.
As an aperitive you should try the Spritz, something Venetians drink more than water and at any time of the day. It is made with white wine or prosecco, seltz and Aperol, Select or Campari. Be careful though, it seems like a light drink but it takes years and years of practice to be able to drink three Spritz and still be quite sober.

Most recommended bacari are the Bifora in Campo Santa Margherita, Cantina Schiavi in Fondamenta Nani near the Zattere, la Vedova (famous for its special meatballs) in Strada Nuova near Ca’ Doro and Cantina Do Mori near Rialto, which is actually the most ancient bacaro in Venice opened in 1462.

 

Alaska

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Alaska
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Alaska ice-creams

If you visit the city in the summer you should definitely stop by the best Gelateria (ice-cream parlor) called Alaska (Santa Croce, 1159). It has real handmade ice-cream with genuine Italian ingredients.

 

Nightlife

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By experience, in Venice it is usually unusual encounters that make your night great. Being an international city, it is possible to meet people from all over the world, travelers, students and many eccentric artists.
The Paradiso Perduto in the Fondamenta della Misericordia offers live music every Monday and is a great place where to have a few drinks after dinner. There is a good atmosphere and the place still looks very authentic.

For live concerts at the weekends there is the Morion in the Castello neighbourhood, that offers a variety of music, from jazz to indie rock.
Ai Biliardi, just off the Guglie bridge, is probably one of the few places (or maybe the only one) that does not seem to have a curfew. There you can find performances, concerts and there is a piano and other instruments for people who want to improvise a jam session. Be careful though because once you get in you never know when you’re going to hit the door again. Maybe it’s because there are no windows but time there seems to flow differently.

Laguna Libre in Fondamenta Cannaregio 969, organises aperitives and Sunday brunch always accompanied by good live music. The place is new and very well decorated, only thing is having a proper meal there is a bit expensive.

Last but not least, the Spazio Aereo is ten minutes by bus from Venice (at Vega, via delle Industrie 27/5) and has live music and other artistic events every week. If you feel like you can leave the island for one night, make sure you check this place out, it is definitely one of the best clubs in the Venice area.

 

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