“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
There truly is no place quite like Venice. This was our 2nd holiday in the sinking city and it was just as, if not more, magical than the first time.
We landed in Venice Marco Polo Airport late on Thursday evening and, since we weren’t entirely sure of the location of our hotel, decided to splurge on a taxi and boat transfer from the airport directly to the canal side entrance of our hotel. It was expensive, but totally worth it (to make up for it, on our return journey to the airport we walked all the way from our hotel to the bus depot and caught a cheap city bus to the airport).
There is a lot to love about Venice. Here is a list of my top five favourites!
1. The “Off Season”
Both times we visited Venice were in November. I know some people are nervous about visiting Venice in the winter months due to the high possibility of Acqua Alta and bad weather, but it really is the best time of year to enjoy the city. Plus, Acqua Alta is kind of awesome to experience. We only had one day of flooding during our first trip to Venice. We had packed our wellies and they made romping around the flooded city possible and even enjoyable. This holiday, though, the weather was sunny and the tide stayed low, so we had no need for our boots (thankfully, since they are still in storage in London).
Although we have never visited Venice in the summer months, we were told by a few locals that it is not a pleasant experience. The weather is hot and humid, the canal water levels are very low, causing the city to smell more pungent than usual and the city is infested with mosquitos and tourists. Venice is still quite busy with tourists in November, but the weather is pleasantly cool and you can easily get away from the crowds by avoiding the more popular routes.
2. The Architecture
All I know, though, is that the city is a feast for the eyes, no matter how many times you visit there will always be a building or detail that you’ve not seen before. For a photography lover like myself, it means that there is always a great shot just around the corner.
3. The Hotel “Palaces”
If you decide to visit to Venice, make sure you stay in the old city of Venice, preferably one of the many, beautiful palace hotels. There’s no better place for opulence bordering on the side of tackiness than in Venice.
During the off season, you can usually get yourself a good deal on accommodation. We stayed at the Ruzzini Palace Hotel and got a great deal on our room. Plus, we even got upgraded to a suite when we checked in (yay for bathrobes and slippers!).
We stayed at the historic Hotel Pesaro Palace during our first visit, which was also lovely. We had an eye watering red and gold room over looking the grand canal. It was kind of perfect.
4. The Venice Jazz Club
One of the best experiences we had in Venice during our first visit was completely unexpected. Wanting to do something different for one of our evenings, Martin looked online for something fun to do. During his search he found the Venice Jazz Club. They had a concert playing that night, so we booked a table for two and crossed our fingers that it would be worth the price of admission (20 EUR each + first drink free). It definitely was. Now, I’m not a huge jazz fan, nor am I a huge live concert fan, so the fact that I LOVED the evening speaks very highly of the musicians.
One of the main reasons we wanted to go back to Venice, was to experience the VJC again. We ended up booking two concerts back to back (Friday – Latin Jazz and Bossa Nova & Saturday – “Kind of Blue” Miles Davis and more ). It was just as good as we remembered it two years ago, with all of the same musicians. If you’re ever there, you must experience the VJC!
5. The Food
Venice is not particularly known for its food, but I believe it’s because tourists are ordering the wrong kind of food. I had some super delizioso meals while I was in Venice, some of which I’ve been craving since my return. I think the biggest problem, is that people order non-traditional food and expect it to be amazing. I’m telling you now, don’t go to Venice and order a steak or a burger or even a pizza for that matter. You will be disappointed.
One of the funniest moments we had in Venice was when Martin ordered a hamburger for his dinner. After waiting quite a long time for our meal, his burger eventually arrived at the table. It was a defrosted, thin, patty on a plate, with some lettuce and tomatoes on the side. No bun. Needless to say he was very jealous of my tasty and filling pasta dish (which cost 5 euros less than his hamburger patty).
When in Venice I recommend that you order pasta, or seafood, or fish, or polenta, or gnocchi. I’ve had all of these in various Trattorias and they’ve all been delicious options. My favourite pasta dish is the spaghetti with cuttlefish or squid. Super simple, but really tasty. I am also a massive fan of the traditional Venetian dish Sarde in Saor. The first time I ordered this dish with polenta the server tried to talk me out of it thinking I would not like it. He obviously didn’t realise that my mom is Italian and when the dish came out they all hovered around to watch me eat it. And eat it I did! Martin even thought it was very tasty.
I hope this list is helpful if you ever find yourself in Venice. But you’d better hurry, Venice IS sinking!