Here are some suggestions when you just have a few time in a city such as Venice, when you are “passing through” Venice; and because it is Venice, come on! You cannot miss out on an opportunity to get all the good vibes “La Serenissima” is well-known for!
There is so much to see there. It is no news. Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale, exploring lagoons and Canal Grande by gondola, the colorful houses of Burano Island, also famous for its lace. Millions of tourists every year come whether it is their first time or more, and I am not here to enumerate the famous places one should go to. You probably know them anyway. Instead I can tell you about the context in which I got to see Venice, how you can relate to it and how to enjoy it.
Could an afternoon be enough? Answer is yes!
I mean if you find yourself in the exact same situation as me where Venice is on your way to another country…More precisely, you try to get the cheapest flight ticket to go to Croatia and the most appropriate to your journey, and Venice appears to be the best option. Great! Why would you just land there and do nothing with an entire afternoon between train/plane transfers? On my way back to Paris, I arrived at Santa Lucia train station around noon and the flight was later at night at Venice Marco polo airport. Therefore, the plan was to use this spare time delightfully in town!
The only drawback is if you do not “fly light”. You get the point, walking around with heavy or many suitcases is not comfortable. I learnt to do so to be able to experience to the fullest in such situations! So, now you know in which circumstances it is just an afternoon in Venice that will blow your mind as a first-time visitor.
One word that I had heard and read a lot on the Internet when it comes to Venice is “expensive”. Well, good news, here I share about an affordable afternoon. On a side note, it was indeed my first time in Venice however not in Italy. My first trip was dedicated to Rome and Milan. I have to admit that I love Italy in general, I really do! It has the reputation of providing everything for any epicurean, the good life, the beautiful emotions we get and experience that feed all our senses, a lot of the things I personally enjoy. Art, architecture and heritage, food, romantic ambiance and fashion of course! To sum up the so called dolce vita! So, how to get a taste of it in an afternoon?
Yes, you definitely have enough time to:
- Get lost in the charming narrow streets.
First thing first! At some point, it seems that you can get lost. True that one street after another is pretty, it seems that they look like, a lot! I heard others saying that Venice is a labyrinth to people that do not know it. It sounds kind of “scary”, right? But not so much in fact! Trust me. At the end of the day, it is all fun! Your eyes are literally wandering faster and more than your feet can handle. If that doesn’t make sense, I hope it has at least enabled you to relax and unlocked the will to just try. Well, and afterwards, try to describe this delightful feeling and experience of getting lost!
- Get a taste of the Italian food and treats.
A visit to Venice – and in Italy in general – wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the food whether it is antipasti, gourmet, fine, salty, sweet, wine…any! Anyone disagree here? In an afternoon, you want to make time for that IN ANY CASE!
- When you get there: Have Lunch! You are going to need it, actually I suggest before the strolling-getting-lost adventure! There are plenty of restaurants. We are spoiled, the choice is ours! Perhaps the most challenging part. Competition is high in the area! Restaurants staff work hard to attract you in theirs. Good thing for visitors, there is a high chance for you to be offered a free drink/aperitif just to get in!
- After getting lost in the area, and being back on the right track, make your way to the Shamrock Irish Pub to REWARD yourself. Do not “judge” the place by its name! I mean that despite the name of the place that refers to Northern Europe, I personally think the whole experience remains Mediterranean; let me explain, you can get a Guinness – not sure I need to precise Guinness beer here ahah – and still feel the warmth of an Italian welcome and service. Isn’t this a brilliant “cocktail”! Another option is 2€ for a coffee with that same experience, not bad!
- While heading to the bus station to get to Marco Polo airport, make a stop at the shop Cioccolateria Dal Mas. Treat yourself! Staff is very helpful and of course you find quality treats (made by craftsmen). A place for the tiramisu lovers and in this particular situation where you do not have much time, it is handy. Take it away. I got a fruity dessert as far as I am concerned. Yes, there are enough and enough choice to satisfy each of us!
Some details : in Cannaregio > Shamrock Cannaregio, 282/B, 30121 Venezia & Dal Mas Rio Terà Lista di Spagna, 149, 30121 Venezia.
- Discover Cannaregio and its elegant sites…from the outside if you do not have much time: Chiesa di San Geremia (18th century) and St Lucy’s relics and Palazzo Labia – Salone del Tiepolo. Of course, it’s worth seeing inside and out the buildings! Was too short for me to spend time inside. What is the point if you cannot take your time to enjoy, and pay close attention to the details because in this kind of building, it is really about the details. So, I admired them from the outside, and I must say I am a little bit frustrated!
- Buy souvenirs according to tastes in Rio Terà Lista di Spagna, main street in Cannaregio.
- In the Venetian imaginary, most of us can picture the carnival of Venice and the “Commedia dell’arte” therefore it is natural and very common that the most typical souvenirs one will bring from Venice are the elaborate and sophisticated masks. No wonder! You find a wide range of them according to prices, sizes and styles.
- Traditional pastas, sauces, spices…you name it. I chose chocolate. Do I need to mention to bring a taste of Italy home and make your loved ones happy? I am confident, it will. Especially, when you left them behind, it might help a lot to get rid of any resentment! Good food always warms our hearts. It seems that Italians know very much how to do that, seems like a tradition. So, it wouldn’t hurt to take with us some of this magic know-how!
- Yet, while being inspired by the “perfect picture”; keep in mind the reality of the city to better appreciate its authenticity. I do not want to sound didactic or moralistic of course. However, as I am sitting here writing about Venice, I feel like sharing about the behind the scenes. We must remember that all of this beauty has a “price” if I can put it like that. And here I am not talking about the money we spend for accommodation, food and tours or other activities; though there is a high chance any negative impacts in a tourist site will influence its development policy therefore its pricing policy. If we want to enjoy a beautiful city for the years coming and allow the next generations to do so, it is more about the “price of preservation” of what is part of our heritage. We hear a lot of stories about damaged, spoiled tourist spots, visitors’ bad behaviors, tourism being a predator to the environment and cultural sites, tourism as an invasion; to the point that local authorities are facing challenges including dealing with the locals’ complaints. International organizations are also involved as it is all about the future of the planet and resources of all kinds. Venice is no exception and it is nothing recent.