SUSAN’S GUIDE TO VENICE

 

which is about tradition, strolling & getting lost!

In Venice, the must sees are St. Marks Basilica and the Dodges Palace.  Also make sure you get on a boat and take in the faded glory of the Grand Canal. Venice is made for getting lost in and looking for the picture postcard scenes that seem to appear out of every corner once you’re off the beaten path.

Please = per favore  / Thank you = grazie-eh / Hi/bye = ciao / excuse me = mi scusi

have a good day = buona giornata  / have good evening = buona serata/  How are you? = come sta?

Good, and you? = benne, e tu?  /  please, thank you, are you ready = prego    cheers = Salu-tay

Find out where the locals eat by asking Ci puo’ consigliare un ristorantino locale non turistico per favore?

Love it or loathe it

Venice is a strange place that people either love and long to go back to, or they can’t wait to get away from it.  It suffers from being a small place with narrow walkways, and an influx of thousands of cruise ship passengers.  Most people are there for a short time, and travel in large slow herds, following guides.  The locals try to live their lives around this disruption, where everything has to be brought in by hand.  Delivery men with large barrows, push through the crowds yelling ‘Permisso!’ and Japanese tourists drag wheeled suitcases over the numerous stone bridges.

The main traffic areas are between San Marco and Rialto bridge.  If you have a limited time in Venice, the best time to be in this area is either really early or after 5 or 6pm.  I give you quick tips on how to get into the Basilica and the Dodges Palace, which are right beside each other. See them and then get out of the center during the busy time.

You can wander all along wide waterfront promenade, where you will find a couple of parks and places with locals.  Towards the top and back of Venice are the sidestreets where kids play ball and laundry hangs overhead.  If you head towards the Accademia bridge, the sidestreets are magical.  Check out the island of Lido, rent a bike and ride out to overlook the Med.

Then come back to San Marco when the crowds go back to their ships and the others catch boats to their tour coaches. Venice completely changes.  Orchestras play in the square, golden lights come up, you can take the lift up the campanile and visit the rooftop world of Venice, or head to Rialto bridge for a romantic meal.  This is also a great time to take the Vaporetto along the Grand canal.  It is absolutely stunning, and much cooler.

A cheeky trick for the folks back home.  Venice has a really good live cam. If you are in smart phone contact with someone back home, get them to log onto Skyline webcams.  When you are in front of the Basilica in Saint Mark’s square, look in the direction of the clock and wave to them in real time.

 

MAIN SITES

Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) Imposing palace with artwork by Veronese & Tintoretto (his biggest oil painting in the world); prison & cells/ cross bridge of sighs.   A must see!

TOP TIP : Buy a combined ticket from Museo Civico Correr (good museum/ have a look) & bypass queues.  It’s on the opposite end of the square from St Marks.    8:30am-7pm

Basilica di San Marco (modest dress) 40,000 sq ft of gold tiles, rippled mosaic floors from yrs of flooding.  Free entry  9:45-5pm  A must see!  Once inside you can visit: St Mark’s tomb & golden panel / treasury / museum & balcony (close 4:45pm)

TOP TIP: on side street beside St M’s, look for street ‘Calle St Basso’. Second door on right is the bag check for St M’s. They will give you a chit for 1 hr free bag check & with it, you & a friend can barge to the front of the church queue, show chit to door guard & go straight in.

Campanile (Bell Tower) Take lift to the top for fantastic views.  9am-7pm / Jul-Aug 9am-9pm

Hotel Danielli 14C bldg on waterfront by prison. Impressive lobby used in ‘The Tourist’. Go in for a photo or a posh drink.

Rialto Bridge Main bridge across Grand Canal. Cross it to find markets with souvenirs, fresh fruit cups & coconut, jumpers, scarves, glass beads and cheaply made jewellery, glass wine bottle stoppers and leathers.

Visit the food markets on Grand Canal and famous morning fish market (closed Mon) runs until 7pm-ish high season.

To find the next two listings, from San Marco, with the Basilica behind you, walk through the arch to the far left.  Look down for a mosaic pointing to American Express and go straight, looking for signs that say Accademia.  After 10 minutes walk, the signs will point left, taking you over the Accademia bridge.  The Accademia is at the end of the bridge, while the Guggenheim is off to the left.  

Galleria dell’Accademia   Vast collection of Venice’s colour loving artists.  5 centuries of art: Bellini, Tintoretto, Veronese, Giorgione and more. Mainly religious art through the ages       8:15am-7:15pm

Peggy Guggenheim Collection  This was the American art collector’s home and museum, housed in a stunning Palazzo.  The art is pure modern, abstract heaven in a scrumptious building with a waterfront terrace.  You can find her grave, along with the graves of her 14 dogs in the back garden.  Open 10-6, closed Tuesdays.

 

ISLAND VISITS

The Lido: 12 kms of beach only 15 mins walk down main street to other side of Island. All facilities there.  Boat # 1 or 2

If you want to get to Murano (glass island) or Burano (lace island) catch boat from large dock on waterfront.

Cimitero island: 2 islands, Isola & San Cristoforo form Venices’ cemetery.  No set hrs   boat # 41 or 42 

San Giorgio Maggiore: For bell tower views without queues, take 5 min boat ride on #2 from San Zaccaria-Jolanda dock (by horse statue before prison). Church has tower, open 10-12:30 & 2:30-6:00pm

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View of San Giorgio Maggiore from the Bell tower. St. Marks Square.

DINING  

Cicchetti These are small appetisers, usually served noon to 6 or 7pm. Look for bars with glass counters full of plates & trays of food and sandwiches. Order mixed plate or platter for €8-10 & glass of house wine for €1-2/ many have no tables, or you pay more to sit.

There are some off Campo San Bartolomeo (nr Rialto) –look for statue & Rosticceria sign to right.  There are also some as you cross over Rialto. Three fancy ones to right on water front or look for the tiny, but historic  Cantina do Mori, 429 Sestiere: with Rialto behind you, walk to end of market stalls, turn left, then right/ look for small wooden Cantina sign on left (to 8pm). If door closed, walk around block to other side (at least go in for a look)

 

Devils Forest Pub array of beer on tap (Castelmaine 4x)/ daily menu board, salad, pasta.      Off San Bartlomeo before Rialto. Lane beside Disney store / PUB lamps outside. Open 10am-1pm  (they close for a few weeks in the summer, so check online)

Café Florian in St Marks Square. Dating back to 1720, this is one of the oldest and most famous & elegant cafes in Italy. Go in for a drink or just a look. Former patrons: Dickens, Lord Byron, Hemingway & Casanova. They also have a shop with fine chocolate, teas, etc.  Silver service Coffee around €10 and €7 cover if band playing