In 2014 on May I went to Venice. It was completely unplanned and I have never been there before. Venice is amazing. It is exactly what you see on the post card, but there are some things you ought to know before you visit. So here are my 10 things I wish I knew before visiting.
1. No Cars
Obviously Venice is practically flooded and there is no car access. There are car parks where you can park your car and leave it , then you need to take a boat to the city. If you are going to Venice with a car you will need to park in the carpark and it is not cheap. If you can, try some alternative.
2. Avoid caffe’s and restaurants in popular touristic locations
Venice is extremely touristic and that has a downside. Downside is that the food is not that great. Unfortunately everyone is money driven so there are loads of restaurants that serve really bad food. Being Croatian and influenced by Italian cuisine, I am qualified to say that the food you will eat in touristic locations of Venice is not a good reflection of Italian cuisine. But fear not! If you stroll down the streets and explore a bit, you will find some really nice and small authentic Italian restaurants that will blow your mind.
3. Be careful when choosing hotels
We arrived to our first hotel which was Antica Locanda Sturion. We chose it because it was quintessentially Venetian. The decor was over the top and it made me feel like I was on LSD. I mean who cares where you stay in Venice? You will be out all day – however you need good service and I can tell you now, that hotel service is really bad there. We had a huge suitcase and this hotel had more than 100 steps and no lift. No one came to help us with bags, so we had to drag it all the way up. Once in the Hotel, we had people coming in to our room as they pleased, which was strange. Good thing about the hotel was their small restaurant overlooking the canal which was breathtaking.
4. If you don’t get lost – you are doing something wrong.
We switched to another hotel next day called Hotel Palace Bonvecchiatti which looked much better and was moder, but it was a pain to find. We were on the phone with the reception for literally an hour and they spoke english so bad it was sad. We begged them to come and guide us, but they offered no help. I call that very bad customer service, especially for the money they charge. They should take care of their lost and tired guests. Eventually we had to pay a ”city guide” to take us to the hotel (literally 2 streets away) and we gave him a 20€ tip…he wasn’t pleased with that so he asked us for more. LOL, I don’t know what else to add… just research where your hotel is otherwise it will cost you money.
5. Canal boat rides are overrated
I know it is romantic, I know it is cool and I know you don’t get to do it unless you do it there, but I have done it and I can tell you it will hurt your wallet and it won’t last long. You get to see the same things by walking – if not more – and you save those 150€ to have cool cocktails in a Jazz bar filled with women’s bra’s. Make sure you bring your old bra and give it to the waiters, they will hang it up there.
6. Have your camera ready at all times
Venice has amazing architecture, it is breathtaking and romantic. I have never visited a city that made me cry – Venice did. You will really enjoy making photos in this amazing beautiful city so make sure you charged up.
7. If the Archangel pisses on the Basilica, it means it will rain
“When the archangel pisses on the basilica, it’s going to rain.” The local saying is as colourful as it is useful. It refers to the weather vane (a golden angel Gabriel) that crowns the top of the Campanile bell tower in the Piazza San Marco. When the angel turns northeast to face the Basilica di San Marco, it’s taken as a sign of shifting winds and coming rain by locals. Gotta love their sense of humour.
8. Shopping is amazing
I was broke because I ate and drank too much, but there are some awesome shops there to spend your money in. Souvenirs or Chanel bag. Whatever you want – Venice will serve you, as long as you have cash of course.
9. Get some experience in handling the crowds
Venice is extremely crowdy. Extremely. It is near to impossible to walk fast there. There is way to many people crossing and walking and taking photos so make sure you guard yourself with patience. Lots. Of. Partience.
10. Save money to buy a Venetian mask
‘Ca’Macana in the Dorsoduro district is our favourite place for mask-hunting, one of the oldest mask studios of Venice. The masks Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman wore in the movie Eyes Wide Shut by Kubrick were designed and made here. The studio organises workshops to make your own, personal mask.
Do you have any more advices? Leave a comment!