During the summer, we were asked repeatedly how first-time travelers can prepare their visit to Venice. Useful “things” to know about Venice. Here’s our collection of answers dedicated it to the first-time traveler AND the seasoned visitor amongst you.
What can I expect from Venice ?
Expect the world capital of colors and reflections. After all, there are 118 islands connected by bridges and canals. There’s a maze of calli – narrow streets inviting you to start exploring. You’ll find a personal answer to a question or topic in Venice, filling life with joy and answers to subconscious needs of beauty, balance and harmony. Warmth and colors.
You can listen to an ancient language spoken here in Venice, so different from Italian. Venice challenges and stimulates joy of life and never ceases to surprise, even those of us who were so lucky to grow up here.
Even though I thought I knew Venice well enough, watching the following video did take me by surprise. Expect Venice to have this impression on you but be prepared: Arriving in Venice “live” is VERY captivating. (Thanks to Dream of Venice for sharing the video !!)
What can I give to Venice?
You’ve now got a feeling of how unique, fragile and valuable our town is. Venice asks for nothing else than being treated with love and respect. Being treated even more carefully than other cities I’d say. After all, she’s 1,500 years old and about 57,000 people live here. Yet there are 25 million visitors joining us on average per year. Most of them stay for just a few hours or one day at most. With such a crowd, everyone must take to heart a few fundamental rules of how to take care of Venice.
Visiting Venice is a special experience that you should celebrate by taking time to prepare your visit well! We suggest that you choose 1-3 topics you love most when discovering a new place, for “Venice is too old a city to take in one stride” as our friend Giuseppe puts it in this article.
When should I come to Venice?
Try to come to Venice on 28 February. That’s the most personal recommendation I can give you for your stay if you can plan it well ahead. This year once again I witnessed the abrupt and incredibly luminous change of light taking place in our city of reflections. When winter gives way to spring all of a sudden.
Take in the colors of Venice on the last day of winter and then again in the very early morning of March 1 during the “golden hour”. True, that’s a photographer’s term describing the moment in which colors turn golden during sunrise. There’s even this app to determine when the golden hour takes place.
Below you can see what it looked like on March 1, 2016. Everything was bathed in rose-golden light while I was waiting for the vaporetto in the early morning, even the concrete floor of the vaporetto stop. It’s a soft spring light that makes the reddish facades in town glow in a unique manner. All of a sudden the greyish-pale blue water of winter turned a shimmering spring rose-azure.
How can I avoid the crowds?
The crowds are around in summer and on most weekends of the year. That means you’ll have a hard time crossing the Rialto Bridge or walking around Piazza San Marco between 9:00 am and 07:pm.
The crowds usually don’t have specific places they want to see. They move slowly and stop in the most impossible places, making it very difficult for Venetians to go about their daily chores. You can avoid the undecided tourists if your visit revolves around a special topic. There are itineraries revolving around a special topic, as we mentioned above. Focus on a breakfast walk in Venice (find out here). Discover the ancient Greek Quarter and the Floating Market (follow me here).
Time your visit to Piazza San Marco in the very early morning during the peak season in summer and early September. It will look like this.
Choose an itinerary that takes you far off the beaten path and focus on your discoveries. It really works well for me. Far off the crowds you can start losing yourself, giving in to the way Venice is drawing visitors. Losing yourself in the maze of calli east of Piazza San Marco. In this part of Venice, you can walk for hours on end but you’ll never be far from a restaurant and help should you have really lost your way.
Here, Venice offers another special gift to visitors and it’s about honing your five senses. You’re not distracted by cars and big city rumor but you aren’t walking on lonely territory either. You can listen to the sounds of a real city made for humans with city structures that don’t overwhelm but make people want to stay because they feel comfortable and protected (read more here in my article on Salvatore Settis’ book). Try it – you’ll remember this effect of your Venetian vacation even months and years afterwards.
To unveil a few more topics our visitors could explore in Venice, take a look at our scrapbook-styled Slow Travel Guide which we’ve prepared during summer. We call it a guide to “Seven Steps to Discovering Venice”.
Lina and Iris X