Venice is something special. It is the place to go on your honeymoon, or so "they" say. It's romantic and old. The fascinating city is build on 118 (!) small islands and has about 65.000 inhabitants. Just some items of interest: Don't walk in summer through the city without a shirt or in bathing clothes. It will get you a stiff fine. If you buy food for the pigeons on the San Marco square, please do deposit the empty bags in the dustbins provided. If you throw it away and you're caught, it will get you a very fat fine! When you pay for your drink or food: the waiter will return your change to the last cent. When you leave the table, just leave whatever you want on the table as a tip. Don't give it to him! He's too proud to accept it. Beware of the "real" Venetian Masks that you can buy as a souvenir. They are likely to have been made in Taiwan! Buy your hand blown glassware in the narrow streets away from the San Marco square. Most certainly not of the island that's famous for it's glassware: Murano. They will try to get a price that's far too high. Oh yes: if your arrangement is without breakfast, don't take it in the hotel anyway. That will cost dearly. Just around the corner you can get a breakfast in a bar for a fraction of the price.
- Voltage: 220V, 50 Hz. Bring a universal adaptor!
- Money: Euro. All credit cards are excepted. Mind you, the Italians are part of the European Community. And therefore they changed to the Euro on January 1, 2002. And they can be used everywhere in Europe. The value at the moment hovers between US$ 1.32 per 1 Euro.
- Religion: 98% of the Italians are Roman Catholics.
- Climate: Travel there between April and June and September and October. Temperatures in Spring are about 15 degr. C and 20 degrees in Autumn. During the summer months the temperature is influenced by the sea and will be an average of about 28 degrees C. In winter the temperature can go down to an average of 6 - 7 degrees C. Which is not too bad, off course.
- Call to Holland: 0031 -
- Time compared to GMT:+1
Coming in through the Venice airport (Marco Polo, at Tessera), you can do several things: grab a cab. That can be expensive. Or the bus, which will take you directly to Venice, to a huge bus station, just behind the Grand Canal, within ten minutes walk away from the Central Station (Line 35). That's reasonably priced. But what the heck, you're in Venice now! So, if you have the time, take the line-boat! Coming out of the customs, turn left and right at the end of the line you will find the office desk of the firm "San Marco" company. You can get your tickets there. The price is very reasonable. The trip will take about 50 minutes and there are several stops in Venice where you can get off. For instance, you could get of at the boat station Lido. That's approximately 10 minutes walk away from the Saint Mark Square. Oh, I forgot: you will probably find that the name of the boat is "Alilaguna"! Whatever you do (unless you have a lot of money and little time), don't take the Water Taxi!! It will set you back a lot of cash. And didn't you come for a nice, restful vacation? So take it easy (and cheap!). The public transport in Venice consists of 17 lines and is run by boats. It's cheap. You can also get a day ticket for a reasonable price, which you can use on all boats all day except the lines 2 and 28. There is also a three days ticket available. Well worth it's value.
- Activities and tips.
Walk. There is no other way to see Venice's interior. Yes, you can take the water bus, but it only takes you all around Venice through the Grand Canal and around the island. You can take a "Gondel", but that only takes you through some canals and is not exactly a cheap way of travel! After all, they are only used for tourists now. Oh yes, they are romantic! But not a practical means of transport! But all the narrow streets and alleys cannot be seen without using your own legs! Remember, most of these "roads" are little more than 12 feet wide! And as there are no vehicles on the island, commercial or private, walking is safe. And there is no danger to you, no matter where you walk. You could get easily lost in all those little streets, but you will find it is reasonably well sign posted everywhere. And walking from one end of the island (Say from the railway station to the San Marco Square) to the other is about a 20 minutes walk through beautiful scenery, alleys, along interesting shops and picturesque bridges, cosy squares and buildings. Now isn't that what you came for?
Restaurants galore that are cheap and good. Don't eat too near to the San Marco Square, as the prices in that neighborhood soar to high levels, while the food is the same! But that's up to you off course. The prices of articles that you would want to buy are very much higher there than somewhere in the narrow streets 5 - 10 minutes walk away and they are exactly the same quality!
There are no street names. Each house has a number and that's it. I tried to find the house where Marco Polo should have lived. I had the number of the house (5858 in the Cannaregio quarter) and then found three different houses in three different roads with all the same number! How the postman finds his addresses there is still a mystery to me! So, that doesn't work either. I found it at last in the usual manner: I asked. And the gentleman, as is typical of the local population, took us all the way there, in the meantime telling us all about the different buildings we passed, showing us magnificent views and in the end showed us the building where the house had stood where Marco had lived. It turned out, there was nothing left of the place. They had found parts of it in the cellars, when they rebuild a small theatre on the spot where the house had been. In fact, this theatre was build on the foundations of Marco Polo's house. There was talk of conserving those remains, but for some technical reason that was not possible. But at least, I now know where Mr. Polo had lived. Remember this, when some brochure or book tells you where to find the house. It's no longer there!
A stroll along the banks of the "Canali di San Marco", just next to the San Marco Square might be a profitable one (this is where Sean Connery, as James Bond sailed his hover-gondel straight out of the water onto the San Marco square!). There are little stalls there, where to my big surprise, I found strings of freshwater pearls that looked very much like the real thing for ridiculous prices (one long string for about $5!). You can take a little test: scrape along the pearl with your teeth. If it feels sandy, it's real. If it feels smooth, it's fake. They felt sandy....And also strings of red beads that looked very much like real blood coral! For about the same price up to $ 10. I bought a few and am now very sorry that I didn't buy more of them for my wife and her sisters, as when we came back home, we had them appraised by a knowledgeably jeweler and they turned out to be real!! The strings of pearls were valued at about $ 70 each!! The blood coral even higher! But be careful. You may not be allowed to import them into your country, as coral is protected nowadays!
Another must after a couple of days looking around Venice, is a boat trip to the islands. Again, remember, this is Venice. The boats are the only way to get somewhere. So take the water bus! The ticket for a round trip is cheap and you can get off at every island. stroll through those and when you are done, take the next "bus" to the next island. The ticket will get you to all of them and back to Venice. Just sailing along without getting off (Sorry, you must get off once and take another bus along the way to make the full round trip), it will get you back to Venice in about 1.5 hours. The islands all have their own specialties. Murano has it's glassblowing workshops, Burano crochet-work, etc.
Weather in Venice now!
Info from Lonely Planet
More info on Venice
Copyright © 1998-2010 Luuk Francken
Created: April 14, 1998. Updated: augustus 4 2010