a tale of two venices

Updated: Nov 15, 2018


Spending the 2017 Easter break in the enchanted floating city known as Venice couldn’t have been more appropriate, with its pastel buildings and purple wisteria clusters dangling over the blueish-green canals. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought that the Spring color palette attributed with modern-day Easter was inspired by these Venetian hues.

Although charming, this city is Easter egg-fragile structurally. Venice is actually a cluster of 118 tiny islands linked by 177 canals and 409 bridges and it is in fact sinking. Its walls are crumbling and tides are eroding building foundations.

Tourism here is both an economic stimulant and an environmental detriment. With less than 60k residents living in Venice and over 20 million estimated tourists visiting annually, there are two decidedly different faces of Venice.

There are over-priced restaurants, grocery stores and souvenir shops as well as luxury stores near the popular sites (namely Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge) where it's literally jam-packed with tourists shoulder-to-shoulder. If you step away from the main attractions, you'll find desolate alleyways to get lost amongst, authentic food, downright cheap booze and inexpensive leather goods. And THIS is where the magic lies.

A Bellini at the famous Harry’s Bar, where Bellini’s were invented, will cost you €23. Whereas, if you go to Barcollo in San Polo, for example, you’ll get a spritz, prosecco or the like for €2.50 and can even grab some delicious cicchetti (Venetian version of tapas).

The non-touristy bits of Venice are absolutely delightful and should absolutely be added to your wanderlust list. Below are some of my recommendations/tips to note for your next trip here to make it even better.

Bars:

My favorite bar in Venice was Osteria Ai Pugni. The drinks were cheap, the people watching was grand and the late 1990’s hip hop made you want to get up and shake your booty.

It’s not cheap, but if you’re feeling a little swanky, the Skyline Rooftop Bar at the Hilton Molino Stucky is worth a visit for a sundowner drink. Hilton offers a free water shuttle from San Marco to their property.

Nightlife:

Despite reviews online, and not for lack of trying, I did not find that there was much of a nightlife in the main historic centre of Venice, where most tourists confine themselves (myself included). But after drinking prosecco all day long, a late night out wasn’t necessary for me.

To Do:

The infamous gondola rides around the Venetian lagoon can’t be described as anything other than tourist extortion. The cost is regulated and is officially €80 for 30 minutes, but it ends up being more like 20 minutes. Although a little on the pricey side, I am not suggesting that you don’t partake. No Venice trip would be complete without trying it once.

Getting There:

Venice is built on water and only accessible by boat. If you arrive from the airport, follow the boat signs to ‘Vaporetto’ within the terminal to the water taxi dock. I’ve never seen this before; it’s really cool. The pier is actually part of the airport. Above and beyond this, I’m afraid I am not much help. Best of luck to you trying to figure out which water bus/taxi/boat/company to take. The staff was not helpful and prices seemed to vary quite dramatically. I wish I could provide you with some guidance but I struggled to figure it out myself, even after doing it twice. I did find this blog though (after the fact, which might prove to be helpful)

Accommodations:

I stayed at this Airbnb, which was situated on a quiet-ish dead end close enough to all the attractions to be appealing, but far enough away to be able to avoid the hordes of people. It was a great place for two people and pretty affordable as well.

#italy #venice #UNESCOworldheritagesites #europe #gondola #prosecco

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