HOW TO DO... VENICE
Ah, Venice Film Festival. There was Maggie and Jake giving us sibling goals. Beniffer were... well, being Beniffer. And Kristen Stewart looked like a Victorian ragdoll.
It's the ultimate bucket list European city. Pity it was totally fucked over by tourists…
Scams, queues, rude locals and €8 coffees are just some of the negs you’ll need to avoid, so is it even worth it?
A city of marble and wood built over a network of canals, stuffed with traditional Italian culture and unique regional cuisine - there’s nowhere in the world like it. You just need to be steered through the minefield. This is how to do Venice...
1. DO arrive by boatThe best first impression you can get of Venice is by swanning into the city on a vaporetto (water bus). It’s also the cheapest way of exploring the Grand Canal. See the merchants ships and the overhanging buildings before you’ve dropped your suitcases off.
Top Tip: Buy the tickets online to save a couple of euro and opt for a "Time ticket" (24 or 72 hours) to avoid ticket queues for the rest of your trip.
2. DO see the top sightsDon’t be put off by the tales of pickpockets and yowling yanks. You didn’t come to Venice to sit in a local’s cafe and NOT see the city’s infamous sights - just choose them carefully. There’s no way you’ll see everything (unless you set up camp for a couple of months) so pick 3 or 4 big dogs and explore them properly.
St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge Palace and the Bridge of Sighs are all top options. To avoid the worst of the queues, you could book a tour and get priority passes - more spenny sure, but your time’s worth more 🤑
Top Tip: See the Bridge of Sighs from the inside. Swarms of tourists cram onto the bridge opposite to get their pic, but they don’t actually walk the Bridge of Sighs itself. Peep at them from the the holes in the walls and get views over the canals.
3. DO go to the operaA fully fledged ‘once in a lifetime’ experience - trust.
The opera at Musica a Palazzo is genital-swellingly good. Find the hidden Venetian gothic palace (Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto) and head inside for the ‘Travelling Opera’. Follow the singers through each decorated room, sitting beside them on a bed or at a dining room table. It’s very intimate. It’s very sexy.
Top Tip: If the €85 fee is too much but you’re desperate for some tenor action, Virtuosi di Venezia does short performances in a church for under €25.
4. DO pick up a copy of Venezia NewsIt’s not easy to find late night pubs or live music that isn’t catered solely for tourists. Venezia News magazine (published in English and Italian) lists the monthly venues for local gigs. They’ll most likely be in the neighbourhoods of Campo Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro and the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio.
Top Tip: Venice is not a late night party city. If you want wild nightlife go elsewhere.
5. DO go to the islandsMurano, Burano and Torcello can all be reached on the vaporetto (water taxi). Murano is famous for its glass blowing, Burano for its lace and colourful houses and Torcello for its cathedral with Byzantine art. Do all three in one day on a tour or pick your fave and do a deep dive.
Top Tip: Head to the V.I.A factory on Murano island to watch artisans blow and design Venetian glass.
Ok now the top things NOT to do...
1. DON’T rent a gondolaGondolas are WAYYY overpriced and are generally reserved for slaves of the selfie. Instead hop on the local’s traghetto (a gondola where passengers stand) for 50c to cross the Grand Canal.
Top Tip: Don’t sit down and take photographs unless you want a slap from an angry local.
2. DON’T get a drink in the Piazza San MarcoNot only will a coffee cost you the best part of a tenner but you’ll also get charged for listening to the orchestra in the square - another €5-€10. If you're gasping for a drink in the square go inside the cafes and stand up for the cheapest price.
Top Tip:Wander through the square and get your coffee at one of the cafes across the bridge. It’ll set you back €1.20.
3. DON’T go to a tourist restaurantAny restaurant that has a translated menu should be a niche-niche. Especially when they have a ‘menu turistico’ sign. Instead choose the local’s favourites: Osteria Da Fiore, Da Remigio and Vini da Gigio.
Top Tip: Eat your main meal at lunch. At midday trattories have a special ‘menu operai’ (worker’s menu) with a full local meal costing about €10. La Bea Vita is a good place to start.
4. DON’T order pizzaNot ordering pizza in Italy may go against everything you’ve ever believed (yes the Earth is actually flat), but Venetian pizza is surprisingly bad. Why? Wood-fired ovens are banned in the city - what with most buildings being made of wood.
Top Tip: The seafood is 👌 Try lobster, razor clams and ‘Baccalà Mantecato’ a cod moose with garlic and herbs.
5. DON’T get a Bellini in Harry’sA classic tourist trap, the inventor of the Bellini worked at the famous Harry’s Bar. Now they charge €17 a pop. Instead go to a local ‘bacaro’ (campari bar) for a hefty Aperol Spritz.
Top Tip: Bacaro Risorto’s just across the bridge from San Marco and it does a mean Campari or Aperol cocktail on the cheap.