Discover One-of-a-Kind Venice

Travel By Francesca Conte

The person who coined the term one-of-a-kind had Venezia – Venice – in mind. Venezia, whose origins date back to Roman times, was built surrounded by water for mercantile and security reasons. It was one of the busiest ports in the Roman Empire and was protected from northern invasions by the lagoon surrounding it.

Today, the invasion continues, albeit in summer shorts, red umbrellas and baseball hats. It’s the architectural, artistic, historical and cultural significance of Venezia that attracts so many.

Venice Lion

I keep going back because I was born nearby and grew up near, in and with Venezia. My mother and father studied Belle Arti, the Beautiful Arts, at the Academy in Venezia. I spent countless hours on school trips, in and out of museums that didn’t mean nearly as much to me back then. I stayed with friends. I walked around in the dead of winter, at night, when the only inhabitants are the cats you can see and the rats you cannot. Today, I don’t miss an opportunity to go back, cherishing every second in this magical place.

Venice Door

I don’t even know how to describe Venezia in one blog post. There is too much to say, too many lists, too many superlatives, too much to go back for. However, I do have a few suggestions to help you experience Venezia as it should be seen.

Tips for Discovering the Real Venice

Be ready to walk a lot. Venezia has no cars. Transportation is via boat, and the city has an extensive network of public boat transportation. However, walking is the best way to see and experience it, so explore via foot whenever you can.

Venice WroughtIron

Don’t go in the summer, if you can avoid it. Tourism is Venezia’s main source of revenue and it can be a nightmare. Think about squeezing all the people who visit New York City every year into an area the size of Central Park, more or less. Now, think about all those people concentrated on a few paths into Central Park. This is what Venezia is like in the middle of summer.

Everyone wants to see the highlights (San Marco, Ponte di Rialto, Ponte dei Sospiri), and everyone takes the same 2 routes to get there. When you go, get a map and always pick the path less traveled to get where you are going.

Venezia is a maze of little viottoli, narrow paths, and it’s easy to get lost. You will always benefit from staying away from the main paths and you’ll get to your destination in comfort, not flustered, frustrated or ready to get out.

Venice Windows

Visit the smaller museums. One of my favorite museums is the Guggenheim from the private collection of Peggy Guggenheim; it’s small, varied and a real gem, with works from the 1900’s.

Venice PeggyGuggenheim
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Other museums like the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia have extensive collections from many time periods and styles, all worth seeing.

Venice Art

If you want to see how Venezia’s government worked at its peak, visit the Palazzo Ducale, the Palace of the Dogi, the rulers of the city.

Dine with the locals. When you want to eat, take the first right onto the smallest, most isolated road you can find and keep walking. Once you see a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that looks appealing to you, stop in and enjoy. The only mistake you can make is to eat with tourists. The food will be mediocre, the experience lacking.

Like an old lady, Venezia will mesmerize you if you know where to look. Pick a cold winter or fall night, and walk around when Venezia is deserted. Then, at dawn, head to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Sit on its cold, marble step and watch the sun come up. You’ll never want to leave.

Venice Canal
Francesca Conte
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