–by Angelina Morino, World Traveller–
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Venice is a city sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. Step out of your hotel and straight onto a gondola. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks – and as some so very eloquently describe it, the stench.
Climate: 4 degree Winter (Dec – Feb) and 27 degree average Summers (Jun – Aug/Sept)
Known as Venezia to the locals and as ‘The Floating City’ to the rest of the world, Venice has certainly captured the heart of many far and wide. A city without cars and only foot traffic may not sound chaotic, but I can assure you the amount of tourists visiting in the summer months is mind-boggling. With an average population of 270,000 people and an influx of up to 7 million foreigners exploring the Island, it’s no surprise many locals leave for the Summer.
After repeatedly being told that Venice stunk like sewerage, I was quite surprised that I experienced no offensive aromas! The only rubbish evident is rubbish left behind by careless tourists. PLEASE be mindful of Mother nature and our fellow humans and don’t litter!
The streets of Venice are delightful, narrow and winding. Don’t expect, however, to find your way around easily. Street names differ from one end of the street to the other and the general layout of the city is incredibly confusing and from a bird’s eye view resembles those pesky tangled headphones we all wrangle. I suggest ambling around Venice without an agenda to enable you to see parts of the city otherwise missed. A good idea would be to start from the Basilica Di San Marco which is fairly easy to locate and work your way around the city from there.
BEWARE: Pick-pockets are rife in this densely populated area, so keep a keen eye on your belongings. Check the price of drinks and meals before committing as it’s infamous for being hugely over-priced (perks of being a tourist ey!), OH, and watch your head, pigeon poop – bombs away!
What should I see?
In the heart of the city (well sort of) and completed in 1617 in Byzantine and Gothic Style architecture, Basilica Di San Marco is a glorious cathedral, 43 metres tall complete with 5 large domes, adorned with Byzantine Mosaics containing gold and silver it’s no wonder the church has been nicknamed the ‘Church of Gold.’
Buy a bag of seeds before you enter and feed the gazillion pigeons, no trip is complete without the ‘excessive pigeons on your arms as you try to smile though visibly terrified’ phots
TIP: If you are wearing shorts and singlet, you will be asked to cover up before you enter the church – take a cardi along otherwise you’ll have to wait in line for a bit of fabric to drape on your shoulders.
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Napoleon dubbed it the ‘finest drawing room in Europe’, and visitors and pigeons alike have been flocking here for centuries to strut and crow. There is a constant carnival atmosphere thanks to the myriad of duelling cafe orchestras, pooping pigeons, and nonstop traffic of waiters serving alfresco diners and diners enjoying the cuisine.
Watch your wallets for nimble thieves and before you sit down scan the price list of the food and drinks as it’s known to be incredibly expensive.
St. Mark’s Campanile
After enjoying the sounds and sights of St. Mark’s Square head on over to one of the most recognizable symbols of the city, the glorious St Mark bell tower (also a great place to designate a meeting point if you get lost!). The tower stands at 98.6 metres tall and consists of a simple fluted brick structure. Constructed in 1549 and collapsing in 1902, the current structure was re-built in 1912. Historically it was used as a watchtower and lighthouse for the dock. Today it is open to the public to amble up and down its staircase and its certainly well worth it for the incredible view!
Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon. It lies about 1.5 km north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km across with a population of just over 5,000. It is world famous for its glass making, particularly lampworkingand it is certainly well worth the hop, skip and jump to see the artisans work.
Burano Island has the most incredible array of pasta I have ever seen! Hand-crafted in beautiful shapes and colours its reminiscent of the brightly coloured houses lined up along the cobbled roads.
Burano is also famous for its small, brightly painted houses that are popular with artists and even more popular with tourists. The homes on the island are all painted vibrant hues that gleam in the Summer sun. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, they must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. It is also said that each colour represents each family that specific colour is then carried over from generation to generation.
If, like myself, you are a bit of an art appreciator, then you should try to co-ordinate your Venetian experience with one of the world’s most contemporary and progressively curated exhibitions. With its earliest beginnings in 1895, occurring every second year (odd years) and with over 70 countries exhibiting including countries such as Lithuania, Mexico and the Congo, you are ensured to see a significant mixture of culturally and artistically varied works.
With over 300,000 visitors and five months of exhibiting time (during the summer months), it is an event that should certainly not be missed!
Where should I rest my head?
It’s great if you can find a hostel or hotel that offers Breakfast, it certainly saves alot of money and sometimes a few sneaky items can be dropped into the backpack – and Bam! Lunch is served free of charge!
I stayed off the Island which was a 5 minute water taxi ride, the cost of accommodation was by far cheaper and because I was travelling off the cuff, the only place left with a bed!
With a career spanning Design, Aviation and now Health & Fitness, Angelina is never satisfied sitting still. When she isn’t squirreling away at another zany idea she is trekking the globe on the pursuit for the path less traveled …
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