I probably don’t have to work too hard to convince you that Venice is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. After all, that’s what most travel guides say. And they are always right, we know that…
But Venice (or better yet, Venezia – the Italian name sounds much better) has a special place in my heart. In fact, such a special place that I chose it as the setting of my novel Out of Time. Not just the city, but three different eras in its history. Probably overdid it, but hey, that’s how I roll.
For most casual travelers, what I am about to say will be more information than they require to complete their scrapbook of postcards and selfies. If you belong to the group of those who “do” Venice on a stop from a cruise ship or as an afterthought during your one week tourist carnival of Italian cities, then my brief introduction to this breath taking city will far exceed your attention span. That’s too bad.
For those of us who seek the unusual, enjoy the mysterious, and don’t mind looking past the obvious, then this is the city for you. Just don’t go there in August. You’ll just be another colorful addition to the throngs of exhausted tourists carving a beaten path onto the marble steps and cobblestone streets. If you have the time and resources to invest a few days in the area, this is you recipe for a memorable stay:
- Schedule at least two nights in town. Choose the best hotel you can afford in the most central location. You don’t want to spend a whole lot of time getting in and out of the city, and the benefits of being there after the hordes of day-trippers are well worth the cost. The Danieli hotel (where Aurelia and friends stay in my novel Out of Time) is fantastic but a bit pricey.
- Eat the local fare. Please, PLEASE don’t just have the lame tourist snacks. There are plenty of great restaurants serving typical foods (yes, some even the broeto fish soup). You’ve invested some money getting there, don’t skimp on the meals. If you have it in you, try the pasta (spaghetti or bucatini) with squid ink sauce. It’s black. It’s weird. But then you will love it and have the picture to show it!
- Don’t walk, ride. On a boat, that is. There are so many vaporettos, gondolas, water taxis, that going from place to place is a breeze and much more enjoyable than trekking on foot.
- Avoid the most frequented areas from 10am to 5 pm. San Marco’s square is actually beautiful, when you can see it. Rialto’s bridge at night from the water is a breath taking view.
- Forget the mask shops. Walk into the bookstores. Avoid the museum tours. Shop the art galleries
And finally, slow down. Spend your time in Venice as if you had a month there.
Who knows, you may find that hole in the wall antiquarian tucked away in a lost alley who will sell you the oil painted treasure that may remain in your family for generations. I did.