Venice: why you shouldn’t read the guidebooks
Venice is incredible! My first words of advice to anyone going there – don’t read too many guidebooks and don’t listen to too many people who have already been there.
Before I arrived I had heard warnings of how expensive everything would be, how many tourists I would find, that the water is smells in summer, you need to take a boat to get anywhere… blah blah blah.
Go to Venice with an open mind and you won’t notice any of these things because you are simply too distracted by how AMAZING the place is!
In my opinion, the very little that is negative about Venice is far outweighed by how unimaginably beautiful and extraordinary the place is. On my first evening, I walked along the Grand Canal and turned the corner onto Piazza San Marco and was lost for words. Venice is breathtaking and there is nowhere else in the world like it.
You look at the buildings, with their foundations in the water and their historic facades and you know that they probably looked exactly the same 500 years ago. Wandering around the streets you cannot help but imagine how many millions of people have walked over the very same cobbled sidewalks and bridges. All the European history lessons that I had ever sat through came to life and I wished that I could remember more!
Another thing I found fantastic about Venice was that it is so peaceful. For obvious reasons, there are no cars in Venice, and everyone travels on foot and by water. Even at the busiest times of day, in the most popular parts of the city, you hear only the chatter of the people around you. It is wonderful!
Although Venice has a reputation for being expensive, in reality, you can spend as little or as much as you want. If you choose to have a coffee and croissant in a one of the beautiful cafes around the Piazza San Marco, or with a view of the Rialto Bridge, then you will, of course, pay a premium. I used to head to the cafe five minutes round the corner and paid half the price! The same goes for eating out. I know it’s a cliché but head to places you see local Italians eating and you can’t go wrong! At the language school where I was learning Italian there was a beautiful square on the doorstep where for 10 Euros I could get a good lunch and coffee! I also used the Europe on a Shoestring travel guide which was helpful in my first few days while I was finding my feet.
I would encourage everyone to go to Venice. There is no end of things to do, you can visit galleries, museums, watch plays and concerts all year round. Venice has a cultural scene that puts most large ‘cosmopolitan’ cities to shame. But it is still small enough for you to be able to walk everywhere. During my two weeks in Venice I walked the streets over and over again, yet never got tired of crossing the little canal avenues, and watching Gondolas floating by. It is a city that everyone should visit at least once, and I would advise you to forget the tales of high prices and crowds – you will absolutely adore Venice!