Osole mio!!! Awooooo! Okay okay, I’ll settle down. Last week I told you all about Cambodia’s magnificent Angkor Wat temple. This week, friends, the must-see place is Venice, Italy.
It’s mad, really. It’s like the whole city has ADD. Everywhere you look there’s something happening. I don’t think I would like to live there, but you just have to see it.
Venice used to be fabulously wealthy because it did some big-time trade with Asia. Before that, there was some war and pillaging ... but this isn’t a history lesson.
Venice is a water-town, and it’s becoming more of one every day. It’s true: Venice is slowly sinking into the sea! It’s really quite strange to travel on the canals and see the seawater lapping at a building’s front steps. There’s an important lesson in this for the traveller: be careful when you go to St Mark’s Square, because you could get your toes wet.
Piazzale Roma is the big transport interchange that links rail, buses and the water taxis. You can even get a sort of train down to where the cruise ships are. And, what’s more, you can store your luggage there for 24 hours – and they don’t enforce that time too strictly, so that was good.
Once you get settled in your hotel, go out and find St Mark’s Square. That’s your point of reference because everything happens there.
I put the things to be aware of in Venice down to the 5 Ss: slow, spendy, steps, scams and security.
- Be prepared to slow down. This is not Hong Kong, or even Asia, so things move at a glacial pace. Try to avoid going to any government offices or places where you might have to deal with people outside the tourism sector. Yours truly spent more than an hour at the post office just trying to buy a stamp.
- It’s expensive, and it’s hard to avoid being spendy, so watch your money.
- Steps. Lots and lots and lots of steps. It’s quite tiring for a li’l pup like me. But, also, I can’t imagine dragging luggage around those steps to and from a hotel. So try to travel as light as you can and if you need to, leave any big cases at Piazzale Roma.
- Every city has its scams; the one that seemed most popular here was the “Please help me, I’m a reformed drug addict” committed by lovely young people with innocent faces and the ability to tell you their story in multiple languages. Keep a tight hold of your money, friends.
- Security is important here because: old buildings, very expensive artwork and loads of tourists. That means many places won’t allow you in if you’re carrying a backpack, which can be a pain.
What’s so great about it?
You have to see it. I mean really “see it”. Guidebooks, movies, videos, YouTube ... they can’t do it justice. Just take a wander around St Mark’s Square and gawk with everyone else at St Mark’s Basilica , the crazy clock tower – ooh ooh, just wait until it sounds the hour!
Other cool things
- It’s Italy, don’t miss the gelato. Be smart and ask for a “piccolo”. That way, you can have more flavours. Don’t tell anyone but the “After Eight” was the ed’s favourite.
- Street food – try the salt cod mousse.
- Go to the island of Murano and wander the streets of glass shops. You can also catch a free demo of glass blowing. Didn’t find any that did requests, though, so didn’t get a glass selfie made.
- The Rialto Bridge is the most famous in Venice.
- The Bridge of Sighs, though, we thought was more romantic; it’s a great place for a selfie.
- The Doge’s Palace – it’s hard to see all in one day, especially if you like art and history. If you pay a bit extra you can actually walk through the Bridge of Sighs.
- The clock tower.
- The city’s buses are all boats; and petrol stations are filling boats.
- Bridges, bridges everywhere.
- Visit the Jewish Ghetto for punch-in-the-gut history.
- It’s close enough to head to Verona for a look at Juliet’s house.
- For a real wet market experience, head to the Rialto Market and check out the fresh produce, more pasta than you can shake a paw at, and seafood to boggle your mind.
- If you’ve got the money, a trip in a gondola is cool, but not in summer because WHEW the water stinks!