Venice: La Serenissima ('the most serene')
Venice is as much a fantasy as it is a real-life destination.
And to fully appreciate Venice means getting lost – in its streets and in your imagination.
From the magnificence of Piazza San Marco with its soaring Campanile and gilded Basilica, to the humbler neighbourhoods with full clotheslines hanging over the canals, this city invites you to explore every inch up close. Wander the picturesque labyrinth of streets and bridges, have a drink in a piazza, watch the kids play in a park, or just shake your head at the impossibly beautiful buildings flooded knee-deep by the canal waters. Venice is a city for visionaries and romantics, not pragmatists or planners. And it’s for this reason that you’ll want to throw the map away when you arrive in Venice.
Venice is meant to be explored on foot (there are no cars here, or even bicycles). But if you have trouble walking, here are a number of cost-effective ways to get around Venice, without having to spring for the water taxis or gondolas.
If you want to feel like a local AND be able to say you took a gondola ride while in Venice, try hopping onto a traghetto: these ‘people ferries’ are stripped-down gondolas, manned by true-blue gondoliers, just minus the singing and the high price tag (the cost is a pittance, around 50 cents) There are a couple of these berths along the canal that act as short cuts, transporting passengers directly across the water instead of having to take a longer walk to use the bridges. Just be aware that you may have to stand up for the short trip, so if you’re a little wobbly on your feet, this may not be the way to go.
Instead there’s always a vaporetto, the equivalent of a city bus that operates on the water, making regular stops along the winding canals. If you are going to be taking a lot of these, consider buying a pass to save money, since individual rides can quickly add up. (about 7 Euros a ride)
TIP: Want a cheap tour of the Grand Canal? Try taking the number 1 Vaporetto route for its entire journey, going to the last stop on the route and walking back to the centre. You’ll literally get to see all of Venice, for the price of a single ticket – and if you do it at night it’s a romantic way to spend an evening!
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