The fabulous Venice is an island city, contrary to the general belief of "a flooded seaside city".
Literally: it’s in the sea!
The city, more than 600 years of age, is found in a Mediterranean lagoon and the only direct access from the mainland is through a causeway.
You’ve probably read lots of phrases and watched TV shows about Venice’s attractions and the main reasons why you should travel there, but how does it actually feel to be in Venice? What should a traveler expect?
A vivid and detailed presentation can be found in Escape Hunter’s Venice guide – which is a real travel story based on a real unbiased exploration of the ancient city. Multiple articles go well beyond the sights, attractions, foods and transportation means...
Escape Hunter, the “mysterious incognito traveler” provides us with fine details about the look and feel of the ”city of gondolas”...
Let’s see a bit from the key issues regarding the look and feel of Venice.
First: the Layout and Getting Around
The city is composed of 117 tiny islands, many which are interconnected by smaller or larger bridges. It’s a complex labyrinth surrounded by water.
Getting lost in Venice will be a tremendous adventure to those who love beautiful architecture and historic places. Not finding your way is no drama, but pure pleasure.
It might sound surprising, but the best way to get around in watery Venice is actually by foot! Not to mention, it’s also the cheapest way...
Gondolas are merely there for romantic trips and will take a sizeable amount of money out of your pocket...
Vaporettos (which are the local waterbuses) can transport you to further-situated parts of the city, including other major islands (like the Lido area, for instance).
Stylish water taxis cost a lot, but they’re the fastest way to get around on water. Try these if you want to feel like a movie star!
Gothic and Baroque styles are characteristic to Venice, but the predominant one is the fine Venetian Gothic.
Escape Hunter’s top attractions list gives us plenty of information on Venice’s main attractions and the most prominent buildings that we shouldn’t miss.
Make a list of the recommended attractions – which includes churches, palaces, even bridges (the most prominent bridge being the ancient Rialto Bridge) – then, adjust your targets according to how much time you will spend.
From the architecture’s point-of-view, Venice is unique. You won’t see a boasting fine gothic city this large anywhere in Europe... let alone, a ”floating city”!
The Atmosphere, the Crowds, the Smells...
It’s considered one of the most romantic travel destinations in the World. Yet, the crowds destroy the serenity in the main areas. Look for the less-frequented streets, piazettas, explore by yourself to find ”forgotten” quiet places and discover hidden attractions.
You can relax even in tourist-filled Venice!
Otherwise: in the main areas (around the Canal Grande and the main attractions) you can expect huge dense crowds, lots of foreign tourists, many of whom arrive directly by cruise ship.
Yes, indeed – immense ships disembark their passengers at the port situated at the edge of the city.
Venice has become a crowded commerce-driven tourist nest, which unfortunately takes away from the natural atmosphere. Fewer people actually live nowadays in the city and most of the activity there is driven by trade and the tourism industry.
If you can avoid the crowds and sit down in a quiet area especially at dusk, then the atmosphere can turn very romantic.
Venice can be smelly... In fact, some areas even stink!
Especially if the water levels go down, the smells get stronger.
The city gets periodically flooded to the pavement/pedestrian area. This usually happens during the colder months, the early months of the year. Then, the water retracts leaving algae and other ”stinking sea remains”.
Strong shell and algae smells fly in the air during this period.
But, if you travel during the warmer months like May or during the summer, you will most likely not experience this.
While in Venice, you will see plenty of decaying walls, moss-covered areas...
As Escape Hunter says, ”there is a beauty in decay”, which means it’s not necessarily a negative thing to see decaying and cracked walls, chipped paint. This adds to the unique atmosphere, by creating a vintage feel.
Visit the Nearby Islands!
It’s not Just Venice that’s magnetic to the visitor. There are several outlaying islands which boast in ancient attractions – Murano, Burano, Torcello being the main ones.
Check out the boat tours or create your own itinerary to explore the beautiful mini Worlds in the proximity. Most people who travel to Venice miss the outlaying islands.
Murano is a cute little Venice-like island with World-renowned glass workshops. It’s a great place for admiring fine glass artwork, perhaps even buying a few unique items (but be aware, the prices are spicy high!).
In Murano, you can even witness the glassware production process – but it’s better to go with a guided tour group.
Burano is a bit further away. It too resembles Venice in some ways.
Burano is more colorful than Murano, and it has a leaning church tower and lots of houses painted in vivid colors.
Torcello is the least inhabited and smallest island a bit further away. Ernest Hemingway used to spend time on this island.
Torcello is a green island, barely inhabited. And there are several very old churches, among which one constructed in the early 600’s!
You must visit Venice! Even if you only get the chance once during your lifetime. You haven’t seen Europe if you haven’t seen Venice.
But before you do - do check out EscapeHunter.com’s latest travel stories, the unbiased travel reviews and vivid guides to plan your next travels!