Ah Venice, the city on water… The capital of Italy’s Veneto region. In my opinion it’s one of the most unique places on earth.. it’s hard to believe just how incredible and different it is compared to any other city on earth, it’s one of those places you just have to experience first hand to get the full impact. It is built upon more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Its one of the worlds oldest tourist and cultural centres and, of course, in 1987 it was named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sights. It literally transports you to a whole new world and recreates your imagination!
I’ve always been curious about the Venician way of life due to the fact that you can only get around by foot or by boat as there are absolutely no roads for any vehicles or even any routes for cyclists. Every street is connected by bridges over the canals with boats and gondolas sailing underneath. There is however, still a taxi service to transport you from one side of the city to the other but it is in fact a water taxi (also known as a ‘people mover’ which I find an amusing title for unknown reasons), basically just a large boat ferrying passengers up and down the Grand Canal and to and from the adjoining islands.
What I learnt from visiting here is it doesn’t actually smell as bad as people make it out to. Sorry for the unpleasant idea of this but I didn’t actually notice any odour at all! Unfortunately, in 100 or so years time, this gorgeous city may no longer exist as it is slowly sinking due to the water levels rising (no thanks to Global Warming). This is such a shame because although it is known as a great destination for honeymooners, it is ideal for a city break or stop off on a multi-centre holiday because of all of its unique traits. It’s sad to know that there are hardly any locals living here any more because these are the people that give the place its special personality, they bring the liveliness and the Italian friendliness that make it such a warm and welcoming place. Truth be told, without them it would feel like visiting an abandoned island from some horror film. The local residents are slowly evacuating due to the flood danger; once the water levels are too high its near on impossible to make any repairs necessary to the buildings. To add to the problem, it’s economy relies mainly on tourism and with an underwater future approaching, things will slowly grind to a halt.
Going back to a brighter point, the one thing you must do in Venice is take a ride in a gondola; its the classic tradition that makes the city so well known. Whether you’re in a couple or just a group of friends wanting some time to just chill and float around without a care in the world its just great to have some guy dressed in black and white (kind of looking like what kids imagine and describe burglars to look like) paddle you through the streets under all the bridges (this also encouraged me to see just how incredible all of the architecture is and made me wonder how on earth half them buildings are still standing). If you ask nicely, you may even get a little serenade to go with the ride, just hope you get a good voiced gondolia or else it may become quite an amusing experience resulting in covering your ears and attracting the attention of passers by. Taking this trip would be incredible at sunset, seeing the bright sky reflecting onto the water and the city being lit up with the underwater lighting. If you go with the main Gondola company departing tours from one of the most used departure points you will be lucky enough to get a view of the Bridge of Sighs, one of the most famous bridges in Venice which is made of white limestone and has stone bars. You’ll be snap happy!
Venice adds a whole new meaning to water-side dining; usually you would be paying ridiculous amounts at high end restaurants for the priviallage of having a lovely Al Fresco dining experience (unless of course you do the touristy thing and look for a McDonalds to get a takeaway and sit eating on a picnic rug in a location of your choice but that just wouldn’t seem quite the same somehow). But, here, it’s pretty much near on impossible and completely unavoidable to eat out without a water view. It was so lovely to just sit and relax indulging in true Italian pizza (honestly the best kind) with a few drinks, watching the boats go up and down the canals with an Italian band playing music right beside you setting an incredible atmosphere.
Besides all of the quirky little gift shops and your standard gelato and coffee shops, walking around the main plaza, you come across many basic retail shops which I try to avoid as much as possible if truth be told as I much prefer supporting local businesses in the cute little boutique shops where you can find homemade products at great prices whilst receiving the best customer service. Win Win! In my eyes it’s not an ideal shopping haul location like London or New York so if this is your intention I would recommend considering a different destination as you may be slightly disappointed.
As lovely as it is, I reiterate that this is an ideal place for a stopover or weekend away kind of trip but I couldn’t see myself here for a longer period of time because there isn’t an overwhelming amount of things to do besides ride boats and eat your heart out. In the main area of the city centre, there is Piazza San Marco/St Mark’s Square, home to St Mark’s Basilica (tours around here are available) and also the Campanile Bell Tower where you can take an elevator ride to the top and lookout over all of the red roof tops and out into the Adriatic Sea. Its such an incredible sight and worth the small entrance fee. It allows you to see how the city runs and how everything is connected by the water plus giving you insight to the nearby islands and makes you see just how unique this city on water is. Just keep your eyes alert as there usually tends to be the same amount of pigeons as there are people in this area so keep your ice creams in constant view!
So, what are you waiting for… go and take a venture through Venice…