Italy, for tourists, is really three primary “locations” and much variability within each location.
Northern Italy includes Venice, Lake Garda, and the Dolomite Mountains plus the Italian Alps. Central Italy covers Florence and Rome plus the Apennine Mountains. Southern Italy includes Naples and Sicily.
We are presenting a three-part series on Northern Italy. The first installment is about Venice.
12 Things Every Traveler Should Know About Venice
A Pedestrian City
The islands upon which Venice is built (and sinking) are small enough that you can walk from one end to the other. Venice is a pedestrian city, and requires a lot of walking even if you rely primarily on the waterbus.
But this is part of the attraction.
The magic of Venice is a feeling and a way of life, and not defined by a list of attractions you should see. So don’t bother buying a tourist guide – plan on getting lost and discovering the real neighborhoods of Venice by foot.
A Tourist Haven and Sometimes Nightmare
Over 20,000,000 people visit Venice every year.
If you go during the peak tourist season, everything will be more crowded and more expensive than during the winter or the less popular travel times.
Since Europe “closes” in August, we firmly state that, unless you have no other choice, do not go to Venice in August.
Piazzas and Streets
In many cases, the street you’re on won’t have a sign with its name. You have to be able and willing to simply wing it. Most Piazzas do have names even if the plaques that show the names are so worn that the name is hard to read.
In addition to the canals, the piazzas are the beating heart of Venice. Each one has much to offer from locals selling trinkets to the many restaurants and coffee bars.
If you find you need to sit for a while it’s best to sit in a piazza and watch life go on by. People watching in Venice is a fascinating pass time.
Tourists tend to follow the crowd to St. Marcos Plaza. But this is busy. Always. We suggest that you head here either very early or very late. But the many other plazas have so much life that a visit to the famous St. Marcos Plaza may be entirely unnecessary.
Always try to time your stay in Venice with concerts.
There are concerts in the big theaters and also in churches. Depending on the season, there may be a number of concerts to choose from every evening.
But what a shame to go to Venice and not hear a single concert!
Give Yourself Enough Time
Try to set an itinerary before going and allow plenty of time to get from one place to another. If you’re going to walk two kilometres, allow more than the twenty minutes you might otherwise allow.
Venice is a place to look around and absorb everything you see and hear and you can’t do that if you’re in a big hurry to get somewhere.
And Venice is the perfect destination to wander aimlessly and get lost in – the city is a maze of streets so even with a map, have to embrace the fact that you’ll get lost anyway!
There are two casinos in Venice. One is an American-style casino that opened in 1999. The other dates from the 17th century and is the oldest casino in Europe.
Each casino offers all the same games you’ve come to know and love from the online casino boom, however you’re in Venice to experience Venice, so we do suggest that you make casino gaming an after-hours pastime (if one at all!)
Venice is one place where the more you pack the more miserable you’ll be.
There are porters who can transport your excessive luggage to and from the hotel and waterbus stop, but why? Pack less, carry it all on your back, and find a place to stay close to a waterbus stop.
Venice is expensive at all times so if you need to pay a few extra dollars for convenience, do so. Women should not waste luggage space with high heeled shoes. The cobblestone streets are not friendly to such footwear.
Comfort is the key here. In Venice, you’ll walk a lot.
They’re fun and expensive. If you can afford a gondola ride make sure you go with a driver who is in the mood to sing.
Otherwise, you might as well be on a waterbus.
You’ll want to shop in Venice but there is a big difference between wasteful shopping and useful shopping. Souvenirs are a waste of time everywhere, not just in Venice.
In Venice, you might look for a mask, which are available in many shops both during the mask festival and year-round. You can buy local wine or spirits.
Many stores that sell local wine also carry many other local products that you might find interesting to bring back as presents.
It’s best if you speak Italian!
In Northern Italy, many people speak German but it’s actually not so easy to find someone who speaks enough English to help you.
Again, you need to be flexible enough to wing it. Ask people for help and eventually someone will be able to help with directions or anything else in their modest English.
The only thing we can say about food in Venice is don’t eat anything that you can get in a good restaurant back home.
Try variations of foods in every food category but please save the pizza for home!
Italian cheese is excellent as is the wine. We have always loved the soups.
Many people say that one or at the most two days in Venice are enough.
Many people come back time and again because, for them, no number of days is enough.
You’ll never know which category you fit into until you’ve gone.
BEAUTIFUL VENETIAN STYLE MASKS – CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON ↓