I went to Venice with my husband when we were 23 years old at the end of a month-long trip through Europe. It was July, the height of tourist season, and we had to change our clothes 3 times a day due to a heat wave. Venice also seemed to be the most expensive place we went to (e.g. I remember paying 8€ for a large bottle of water in a restaurant).
Given these conditions, I’ve always scrunched my nose up a bit when thinking about Venice, even though I know it’s a beautiful place. (There are still pictures on my wall that prove this.)
My husband was working in northeastern Italy during my parents’ visit last week, so we chose to go down to Italy to meet him there, since my parents had never been to Italy before. I decided we had to go to Venice if we were going to be in the region, not only for my parents’ sake, but also to see if my 23-year old views were correct. I figured I have grown as a traveler since then, so I would see the city in a new way.
Lodging: For our first visit, we had a hotel behind San Marco Piazza (hidden down narrow alleys), which was nice to be centrally located. This time, since we were arriving in the evening, I wanted a hotel near the bus and train stations. I didn’t want to be leading my parents down dark alleys at night lugging suitcases. We stayed at Hotel Boscolo Bellini, which had a great location and staff who gave good recommendations.
Meals: Venice is filled with tourist restaurants, and it’s hard to know which ones are good. Do research ahead of time or ask your hotel for tips. Our hotel recommended La Colombina, which was about a 10-minute walk from our hotel located down a small alley. This was my favorite meal of the entire trip. It also had reasonable prices for the quality of food.
Itinerary: Walk, shop for glass jewelry, San Marco Piazza, lunch, San Marco Basilica, shop, walk, dinner. It’s just fun taking in the views, getting lost, and going at your own pace. Since we were staying on the opposite end of Venice from San Marco, we had a really nice time walking to and from the Piazza.
Tourists: The amount of tourists in Venice take away some of the city’s charm. There were less tourists in April than I saw during our trip in July, but it is still more tourists than I am used to.
We also saw several tourists lugging huge suitcases up and down the stairs on the bridge and through small alleys. Remember to pack light!
Pigeons: Luckily, there were less pigeons this time than there were before. I’m not sure if it was the season or maybe the population has decreased. During our first trip, we left the city exceptionally early in the morning, and we saw cleaning men sweeping up piles of dead pigeons. It is a gross memory, so I hope the birds still aren’t taking over the city in the summer.
I’m glad I returned as a more well-seasoned traveler. I could avoid some of the expensive sides of the city, knew to expect tourist groups, could focus on finding less crowded corners of the city, take in the historical architecture, and show my parents one of the most unique cities on Earth.