Venice. A vibrant, vintage, vivacious city for a vacation. Alliteration over, I’ll stop with the V words now!
Venice, The Floating City, needs no introduction. Even if you have never visited Europe, just hearing the city name Venice brings thoughts of gondolas, beautiful bridges and grand, crumbling palaces facing onto streets of water. You may also have the notion that Venice is a destination for the rich and famous. Prior to visiting, I was one of those people. With very little effort, Venice proved me wrong. So I’ve decided to share 3 alternative things to do, so everyone can access Venice even on a tight budget, and see the sights using alternate and more accessible venues.
1. A view of the city.
Most tour guides will tell you to go into St Marks Basilica and up to the top of the Campanile, for the best view in Venice, for a price of €8. The day I visited Venice, the temperature was topping 38 degrees. A queue spanned from the door back to the waterfront, which I believe was for tickets and then a 30 minute wait for the elevator. If you are able to stand for a long time in the sun and cope with crowds, I am sure the view is more than worth waiting for.
Unfortunately, I am unable to cope with this. Many of you with chronic illness will understand why. However, I was a very lucky dinosaur and on my boat ride I got talking to a friendly local who told me about an alternative place with an unforgettable view over Venice. The city is known for being super touristy. So I was surprised to hear an Italian mention a building which was a Post Office during Mussolini’s rule, turned into a department store would have a good view.
Skeptical as always, I was unsure if I should believe the best view in Venice is actually free! The department store, T Fondaco dei Tedschi by DFS is located right next to the Rialto Bridge and is just across from the famous Rialto Fish Market. Opened in Late 2016, the high end department store is beautiful both inside and out (Also air conditioned, YAY!).
The friendly doorman gave great directions to the stairs, escalators and elevators to the top floor. There are a few steps to get on to the terrace but it is worth it.
I’m less than a foot tall and the view, as I walked across the terrace, over the city and lagoon was incredible. 360° views of Venice’s sepia rooftops, pastel blue lagoons and white buildings. Venice effortlessly oozes romance, words can’t describe it’s beauty, so I’ll let the photographs do the talking.
If you want to view it before you go, google maps has a great tour of the building and rooftop! https://goo.gl/maps/BiRQwE2cjuw
Another tip is to visit St Marks square in the afternoon. The tours visit this site in the mornings so afternoons give a quieter time to experience the square in all its glory.
2. Lunch with a view.
Yet again, I was very lucky and found one of Venice’s many hidden gems. Forno D’Asolo, is hidden in plain sight, directly opposite water taxi stand C. Simple, rustic and an authentic Italian cafe. It is nothing fancy but given Venice prices, this is a great option. If you prefer fancy and restaurant service a visit to Cafe Florian may be better.
But, be warned a cappuccino is €10, plus you get charged to sit (as with most Italian places). If the band are playing music near you, you may get charged more euros for that. Making it a super expensive Cappuccino, which I am sure is worth the money.
For a lower price than a cappuccino in Cafe Florian, I had a coffee and freshly made sandwich. A seat neat the door gave you a view, not only of the Grand Canal but also the Rialto Bridge. How many places can offer a view like that?
3. Authentic Venice
Chiesa di San Zaccaria and its square were quiet and cool. The souvenir shops, in the small streets around this church, were selling Murano glass for a fraction of the price of the shops closer to the centre. Also, an incredible little ice cream shop, selling more flavours of ice cream than I could count, I believe it is called La Mela Verde. From here, there are many quieter bridges to stroll over and enjoy the breeze coming from the water. However, my favourite part of this area in Venice, the seats under the shade of the trees. I love finding nature, its amazing how a tree can grow so well in a city built on stilts to keep it out of the water.
And then, sadly, it was time to leave. Venice is one of life’s unforgettable experiences.
“To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.” Alexander Herzen
This quote isthe best description of Venice, everything from the boat ride into Venice, to getting lost in the narrow streets. Effortless, elegant and timeless, I can’t wait to visit Venice again. This city has stolen my furry blue heart.
It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone – Erica Jon
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