My first trip to Venice was a whirlwind of excitement. That “I can’t believe I’m really here” feeling you get when you’re realising a lifelong dream. I wandered through the busy streets and market stalls, bought the touristy masks claiming to be originals, and shot photos of as many Venetian buildings and canals as I could.
Fast forward 5 years, literally. My experience in Venice for Easter 2018 was calmer, yet quicker, than when I first arrived for Easter 2012. It helps when you’ve visited a city more than once though, you feel less pulled my the ‘must see’ lists of the guidebooks and blogs.
We only had a day to see the city, a quick train from where we were staying in Verona. No gondolas, no museums, no queuing. So what did we do in 8 hours in Venice? Here’s how we played tourist with a local twist.
Take the train. You can drive, bus, taxi, etc. in to the historic centre of Venice, but there is something so satisfying about sitting in the window of a train that slowly, gracefully, pulls in to the little islands off the coast of the mainland. Especially if this is your first visit, the excitement is high.
Take a Walking Tour. I’m a huge fan of walking tours. On this trip I wanted to make sure we did one thing that would qualify as sightseeing, without being the obvious hotspots we’d already seen. We did the Venice Free Walking Tour, which I would highly recommend! We were given a tour that focused on sustainable tourism in Venice by Maria Laura. Did you know 70,000 people visit the city each day, when there are only 55,000 people that actually live in the historic centre? A tour like this will take you around more local parts of the city, skipping some of the more famous stops, and give you a real sense of what it was like to live in Venice throughout the years.
Eat the Cicchetti. Eat all the cicchetti you can! These are most easily described as Italian tapas. They can be anything from little pieces of bread topped with seafood, mini sandwiches, olives, etc. You’ll want to order a few per person; they’re perfect for a quick lunch or with your aperitivo in the evening.
Try the Spritz. Not just the obvious Aperol Spritz. The winning drink in Venice, which is unique to Venice, is the Select Spritz. It’s a bright pink colour, and is less sweet than the Aperol, less bitter than the Campari. It’s heaven! We got back to Verona (which is an hour away) to find that no one knew what this liquor was. Enjoy it and remember your experience in Venice!
Visit the quieter areas. Not surprisingly, if you try to eat or drink along the busy, shop-filled streets, or in Piazza San Marco, you’ll be paying tourist prices. There is so much to see around every corner of this city, so why not wander through a quiet area for a change? Our drinks were a mere €3 a short walk away from the bustle of the Grand Canal. Dorsoduro is home to many students attending the local University and the north side of Cannaregio is beautiful.
How do you see cites like a local? I’d love to know!
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