Venice is one of the absolutely "must-see" places in Europe, if its daily average of 50,000 tourists is anything to go by. Of course Venice has its charms throughout the year but if you are planning a trip to Venice soon you should take note of when the important events will be held. The two main periods to go (or to avoid, depending on whether you love crowds or shun them) are in the months of February when the annual Carnival of Venice is celebrated and in August/September when the annual Mostra or Venice International Film Festival is held.
As dusk falls on San Marco the many tourists there admire the magnificent sunset against the backdrop of the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. In the foreground are parked gondolas taking a rest after a day's work.
Other events to watch out for are: the Befana regatta (the witches race) on 06 January every year, the St. Mark's Festival every 25 April, the Vogalonga paddling/rowing race, the Redentore festival and the Regata Storica. Marathonians might want to come for the Venice Marathon. See their official website here. Then there is the Venice art Biennale, a prestigious contemporary art exhibition held once every two years in Venice.
Piazza San Marco or St. Mark's Square is undoubtedly THE spot to be in when you arrive in Venice. Here is where all the tourists make a beeline for, especially those on a short visit to Venice. Make friends with the pigeons as they are as numerous here as the tourists.
The St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), Venice's prominent landmark, with the majestic Basilica in the background. On the left is the well-established Caffe Quadri, which is on the opposite side of the equally-famous Caffe Florian.
A typical street in Venice with shops lining both sides of the street selling masks, Venetian glass objects and other paraphernalia .
And for a packet of nuts you can have all the pigeons in Venice competing to rest on your hand. A photograph not to be missed. From here you can easily visit the city’s best known museums, such as the Doge’s Palace, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Palazzo Grassi on foot.
However, if you want to be far from the madding crowd and see the quiet side of Venitian life without the tourists then you can take the vaporetto boat and get off at Redentore or Palanca in Giudecca island (photos in Part 2) and just wander around the area. Do not forget to drop a Buongiorno here and a Buongiorno there as these are humble Venetians who appreciate polite strangers.
Having seen Murano-made glass articles everywhere in Venice you might want to take a boat for a side excursion to the island of Murano, the town famous for its Venetian glass objects and if you are early you might even be able to see some craftsmen at work in a glass factory.
Wherever you go in Venice you will find shops and more shops, for Venice thrives on tourism and nothing else. Remember the reason the hotel owner gave for suppressing news of the pest from the hotel guests in the 1971 film "Death in Venice" directed by Luchino Visconti?
- The whole business of Venice is tourists.
Can you imagine Venice without tourists? So it is not surprising that you find souvenir shops even on both sides of the Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge).
Once you arrive in Venice your public transport is limited to the vaporetto (Venice's equivalent of the underground). There are two main lines - Number 1 and Number 2 (see below) and normally there are two different entrances one next to the other depending on which direction you are going so don't simply rush into what looks like an entrance! You need to have a ticket before you board the boat as tickets are not sold on board and if the controller finds you without a ticket you will have to pay a fine of 48 euros. The tickets are sold at ticket booths just outside the boat stop but since a single trip costs 6.50 euros, you might want to consider buying a 24-hour unlimited travel card for 18 euros instead. But if you don't intend to visit Lido or Giudecca then you don't really need the card as everything else can be done on foot. Each time you board the vaporetto you need to have the card scanned by a machine before entering the boat. Of course there is always the gondola, but at 80 euros a trip it's more for a pleasure ride than to take you somewhere!
But if you are a museum buff you might be interested in the Venice Connected Card (it replaces the Venice Card) which includes free entrance to 12 museums and two free visits per day to the city's public toilets (which charges 1.50 euros a visit, even if it's just for a pee). The "Venice Connected Card" costs something like 73 euros for three days and 96 euros for 7 days (as a matter of fact different rates apply at different periods of the year).
Good morning = Buongiorno
Good evening = Buonasera
I do not understand = Non capisco
Thank you = Grazie
Excuse me = Scusi
Do you speak English? = Parla inglese?
Please = Per favore
OK = D'accordo
How much? = Quanto costa?
Where is it? = Dove si trova?