So it’s Sunday, the last day of my wonderful week – mainly – in Venice. Over the past few days I’ve mainly posted on all the art that I’ve seen and left most of the touristy stuff aside.
But after I’ve been coming here for a while now, today – as a little souvenir – I’ll share some recommendations and little tips with you.
I will not tell you that there is a Saint Mark’s Square to be visited, the campanile to be climbed and many canals to be rowed. All this and much more will be written in every guide book, website, or even the smallest brochure.
I’ll make you savvy and show you how to get more for less.
Getting to Venice
If you are already in Italy, you’ll probably get to Venice by train. I find that trenitalia offers a really good service at reasonable prices. Maybe it’s because of that that trains tend to be very full, especially the regional ones. The only recommendation I’d like to give you here is to travel as light as you can to be more comfortable.
Mind you there are two train stations in Venice: Mestre on the main land and Santa Lucia at the historic center. Trains between these two stations are going very often, so if you accidently get off at Mestre, it’s no biggy, the next train will be there in a couple of minutes.
If you chose to find an accommodation at Mestre, and there are a couple of reasons why this is a smart move, you can get by (regional) train to Santa Lucia in about ten minutes, and the ticket costs 1,25 €uro.
Often it’s better to get there by bus, though, since not every B&B or hotel is close to the trainstation. We’ll get to that later.
If you fly into Venice, you’ll land at Venezia Marco Polo airport. From there you have to options to get to the historic center – either by bus to the bus station Piazzale Roma or – and that’s a great way if you’re accommodation is at the historic center – by the Alilaguna boat. Especially on a sunny day it’s just dreamy and actually the first beautiful sight of your beautiful vacation – crossing the lagoon by boat with the view of this unbelievable place.
Alilaguna stops at various stations around the island and then goes to the Lido. So it’s recommendable to check where you’re staying and get off near that spot.
|Unusual arrival at an unusual city.
And if you’re not staying at the historic center? Then you can still go by boat, but in this case I recommend you to get off at the Cruise Terminal (blue line) and cross the ponte della Costituzione to the train station Santa Lucia where you can leave your luggage and start exploring the city right away.
Especially during the summer months the storage is often full so you have to either wait or chose another ‘consigne bagagli’: there are stores willing to store your stuff for a little fee and there even are various locker rooms at different spots in the center. But be aware that these places close much earlier than the one at the station.
Of course you can also go back to the airport the same way, but mind you the space on the boat is limited and if it’s full, it’s full. After a couple of days in Venice I can comfortably go back to the airport by bus and take no risk.
If your accommodation is not at the historic center and you do not want to leave your luggage but go there right away, taking the bus from the airport might be a better option for you: There’s an airport shuttle going straight to Mestre and you’ll reach every other spot from there.
Prices for accommodations are much higher from March till September. In November, I paid a fraction of the high season’s price. And of course during the ‘unattractive’ Winter months the city is much emptier than in Summer – but it’s never ’empty’. I personally experienced the least amount of tourists end of February after the carnival – but then there also might be acqua alta, which means you have to walk on wooden planks which is fun only for about ten minutes, and the city is pretty grey. But when you’re ready to experience the melancholic side of Venice in a relatively empty city at unbeatable prices, end of February does the trick.
|This view is exclusively reserved for guest who stay at the historic center; but it also has its price.
If you are coming during high season, you still have the option to stay out of the historic center on the Venetian main land like the city of Mestre or even farther away like Quarto d’Altino.
Italy has a extended and reliable system of public transport so it will be quite easy commuting into the historic center and back, I’ve done it a couple of times myself.
The closest and best accessible place would be Mestre. You can get to Venice Santa Lucia from there by train for €uro 1,25. But there are also many busses going every couple of minutes for € 1,40, which might be even faster and more comfortable since you’ll probably stay in a residential area.
|When in Venice, do like the Venetians do: Commuting in full busses.
Mestre is less expensive, but it’s not cheap since the trick staying ten minutes away from Venice is not so very genius, hence hosts in Mestre know what they can ask from you.
You can also go farther away e. g. to Quarto d’Altino, a charmless place less than half an hour by train from Santa Lucia. Surprisingly there are a couple of hotels like the Holiday Inn Express in that area. Anyway, the trains to and from Venice go every 30 minutes and one trip costs €uro 3,40. It’s not a great option, but it’s an option just the same (I did it twice on really short stays. Commuting all the way out there for a longer time might be unnerving.)
You’ll find accommodations in the urban fringe on the usual hotel sites and privately run B&Bs on www.bedandbreakfast.it.
Like I said, I will not tell you that there is the Doge’s palace and the Rialto bridge to be visited.
But I tell you that you can visit sights on a cheaper price and without waiting in line by buying e. g. the Museum Pass that grants you free entrance to the 11 most important state museums and palazzi in Venice. The best way to get it is ordering it online, so even there you save time.
|Hope this article helps you being on top of things in Venice.
On my first trip to Venice I did the whole show with taking the Vaporetto (ferry-bus) and all that jazz. Since you’re paying €uro 7,50 for a single ticket, you might understand that it lost it’s charme quite quickly and I’m walking – especially since taking the Vaporetto is another great opportunity spending your vacation waiting and queuing. But if you want to take the Vaporetto, and I perfectly understand that you do, you might not want to buy single tickets but day passes that cost ‘only’ 20 €uro for 24 hours, 30 €uro for 48 hours, 40 €uro for 72 hours, and 60 €uro for a week (which is a really good price, very similar to what you pay in big cities for day passes for ordinary public transport).
The whole somewhat confusing price policy of ACTV, the local transport company, is to find on their website.
|Row row row the boat…
You can also combine your activities and the travels on one tourist card, the Venezia Unica City Pass, where you add online activities and the a. m. ACTV-passe and then print it out before you arrive.
Young people between 6 and 29 can get a Rolling Venice Card that grants them reduced entrance fees and cheaper Vaporetto tickets and more (kids under 6 years of age don’t have to pay, anyway).
So now it’s up to you to do your math – good luck!
Like in most other touristy cities there’s a free walking tour in Venice, too.
Although it’s very touristy, indeed, on a sunny day an organized trip to the other Islands like Murano with its glass artisans, the fishing village of Burano with its lace industries and the great church houses of Torcello is just beautiful.
Eating and Drinking
You might have noticed by now that I am very passionate about art – but also about churches and temples, streets and squares. Although I like cooking and love food, when travelling I consider it a waste of time – unless it’s a highly authentic or in some way special place.
So this sitting around at a restaurant for an hour just to stuff face to me is a waste of time. And in Italy they are especially chilled about serving, here you learn where the word ‘waiter’ must stem from: you wait for him to bring the menu, you wait for him to take your order for drinks, you wait for him to come back with your drinks, you wait for him to take your order for food – and it goes on and on till you wait for him to finally take your money. I can’t stand it.
Fortunately Italy is street and fast food heaven. I’m not talking burgers’n’fries here, I’m talking juicy pizza, fat-dripping focaccia or sandwiches with prosciutto di Parma; everything that’s guaranteed vitamin free and rich in carbohydrates. So having a piece of heaven for lunch while pacing to the next museum and in the evening an epic aperitivo and I call it a happy foodie day.
Here are the top places in Venice for my kind of diet:
It’s hard to find bad pizza in Italy, and many of the stands that sell a slice of pizza for about 2,50 to 3 €uro will be even excellent. The best one in Venice is definitely Rizzo on strada nova. Their pizza comes in long stripes and is covered with the finest toppings like gorgonzola and nuts, quattro formaggi whereby the formaggi are like triple of the dough, all sorts of prosciutto and veggies – it’s fantastic. They also sell other treats like tarts and sandwiches and at the opposite counter a variety of cakes and pies. Everybody finds something he falls for at Rizzo.
|Just look at these toppings!
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 83 22
Do you know “Tramezzini”? They are triangles of soggy, unroasted toast, but that doesn’t matter since the bread is only the wrapper of the delicious fillings. The fillings are not a thin layer like on a sandwich, not, they are a big heap of of the finest Italian delicacies: prosciutto, egg, gamberi (shrimps), carciofi (artichokes), radicchio, you name it. To help the shredded stuff holding together, they are stirred with just the right amount of mayonnaise to a heavenly mixture and then bedded between two slices of toast. It’s good that the toast is mushy because it makes room for the filling.
|One lonely tramezzino. They are called tramezzini – plural! – since you cannot limit yourself to just one:
Look at this rich, juicy filling of crabmeat!
I limit myself to three pieces in one meal, but let me tell you, the choice is a toughie.
The juiciest tramezzini are waiting for you at
Bar alla Toletta
Via Dorsoduro 1191
Phone: +39 – 41 – 520 01 96
|Bar alla Toletta = Tramezzini-Heaven
I don’t really get the aperitivo concept, but I still love it. Why I don’t get it? Because an aperitiv is soppused to tickle your fancy for a complete meal. It Italy the aperitivo is a complete meal – and in comparison darn cheap: at the non over touristy places you pay between €uro 5 and 8 for an aperitivo that includes a glass of something like a Spritz and a small buffet with all sorts of niblets. Sometimes it’s only bruschetta, but sometimes it’s really fancy stuff like tomatoes with crab stuffing or some nice pasta.
|A light aperitivo-buffet.
The nicest aperitivo place in Venice is Taverna al Remer. You can either sit in their rustic restaurant or you take your booze and snack outside, sit at the canal and enjoy life.
Taverna Al Remer
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 522 87 89
Another really nice place – although located very exposed on the strada nova – is the Cantina Vecia Carbonera right at the corner of the bridge over Rio Terà de la Maddalena.
|Finest snacks at the Cantina Vecia Carbonera: a fine little meatloaf (upper left), a melanzane parmigiano, a piece of bread with gorgonzola and nuts, and a piece of stuffed squid on polenta – and a glass of Spritz.
Cantina Vecia Carbonera
30121 Venice Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 03 76
So you insist on having a seated meal? Okay, there are some good options at Venice that are not a complete rip off.
Osteria alla Vedova
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 528 53 24
Rosticceria San Bartolomeo/Rosticceria Gislon
Sottoportego della Bissa 5424
(Close to Rialto)
Phone: +39 – 41 – 522 35 69
Trattoria dalla Marisa
Fondamenta San Giobbe
Phone: + 39 – 41 -72 02 11
When travelling I like to complete my day by listening to local music and reading a good novel that takes place in the surroundings – and sometimes even makes things that I’ve seen during the day much clearer.
|Coffee break with Venetian news on the side.
In the post about my weekend in Milan I recommended you to get in the mood with the help of Lucio Dalla’s poetic music. For Venice there is of course Ms Donna Leon and her commissario Brunetti leading you to even very hidden spots of the city – he is working on his 26th case by now!
And of course there is the all time classic ‘Death in Venice’ by German Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann.
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