Oh, how I miss Venice. Sometimes I miss it so much it hurts. Especially on these cold winter days. It was such a cold winter day when I first set foot in Venice. My week there filled my mind with memories that still keep me warm when I feel the cold fingers of the mundane trying to suffocate my good mood.
Going back to the time I spent in Venice, I can clearly recall the things I enjoyed the most, and I admit there were some mistakes I made as a first-time visitor. In order to spare you the mistakes I made, I prepared a list of the top 7 things to DO while in Venice. That’s right – for it is the things that you DO in Venice that you’ll remember rather than the sights you SEE. So, here they are:
- Get lost – this is the most important thing you should do while in Venice. In fact, if you don’t have much time, just this one thing will be enough. It’s not that it’s difficult to get lost in Venice – this picturesque net of small bridges and tiny canals whispers to you, “Come here, get lost, and you won’t regret it…” Aimlessly wandering about, crossing bridges that are not more than a few meters long, looking at the unbelievably beautiful old buildings with blistered-by-the-water walls are all you have to do to get Venice’s essence.
- Eat local food – If you are a fan of insanely delicious local food (especially seafood), go to Venice and look for the best hidden places to eat. Quickly pass by the noisy crowded-with-tourists restaurants and turn left (or turn right). Just keep walking until there’s not a single tourist in sight. Then start looking for a place to eat. Local restaurants often look closed at first glance (as a precautionary measure against curious tourists), so you have to keep your eyes open. When you find the place, be kind enough to not act as a tourist (as much as you can), and just be grateful that the owners accepted you in their sacred dining temple where pasta is made by hand and the collocation “frozen pizza” simply does not exist.
Drink wine on the Grand Canal – You can get a bottle of wine from a shop or from a restaurant. Don’t make the mistake to drink it in your room or at a restaurant table. Instead, find a secluded spot on the Grand Canal and enjoy it there while contemplating the heavenly view of old Venetian buildings mirrored in the water.
- Go out after sunset – as beautiful as Venice may be when the sun is shining, it has a completely different charm, revealed before your eyes after sunset. The shadows of lovers hidden in the corners of the small bridges, the window lights swimming in the water of the canals, the soft classical music coming from an exquisite restaurant on the piazza San Marco – they all make you feel as if Casanova is still alive, ready to show himself behind the next corner.
Go “window” shopping at the Rialto market – When it comes to Venice’s unique spirit, the Rialto Market is a sight not less significant than St Mark’s Square or the Bridge of Sighs. It is a colorful place full of local people green-grocery shopping – an activity worth seeing! The hustle and bustle of locals trying to get the best ingredients for preparing a delicious lunch or dinner is simply fascinating. And the way food is displayed on the stands is a separate kind of art form.
- Stay away from the crowds – I am sure the last thing you want to listen to while in Venice is English, French, or Japanese for that matter. Crowds can really ruin the atmosphere of Venice – they are noisy, usually taking photos with you in the background, and always in your way. Take this advice and get away from the tourists! Just take the first crossing – you will be astonished at the true Venetian setting you will be presented with – laundry hanging from the windows, old ladies chatting in Italian, children playing games older than their grandparents…
- Get on board a vaporetto – You certainly don’t have to pay over 100 EUR for a gondola ride in order to feast your eyes on the magnificent buildings on both sides of the Grand Canal. Take a vaporetto instead – this is a boat that is used as public transport. Thus you will both mix with the locals and enjoy the great views without paying a fortune. You may as well take the vaporetto to Burano Island – it is a less-popular island near Venice (a few minutes away from the more popular Murano Island). In Burano, which looks like a miniature replica of Venice, you fill find both fewer tourists and more beautiful, super-colorful buildings. A walk along the narrow streets with the inevitable canals will make you feel surreal – as if you are in a cartoon!
There are certainly many sights to see in Venice as well – the magnificent piazza San Marco, the Basilica di San Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge, as well as numerous churches and galleries… But you have a great chance of running into them while following the steps on this list anyway.
So, wait no more and get lost in Venice, for while you are lost there, you might as well find yourself…
*Image of canal in Venice, Italy via Shutterstock
*Image of Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice via Shutterstock