This may be controversial, but … we think Venice is overrated. Don’t get us wrong, the city itself is stunning and the whole concept and way it had been planned is definitely awe-inspiring but, unfortunately, it was very difficult for us to appreciate that and be charmed by the city due to the amount of people everywhere you turn. The only time we felt ‘the magic’ of the Venice was in the evenings after many of the day tourists leave the city.
There are a number of articles and discussions about the damage that tourism, or rather the ‘Grab and Go’ type of tourism, is doing to Venice. In short, a large percentage of the visitors to Venice come for the day, either from cruise ships or tour buses that think you can properly experience a city in 8 hours. From the hours of 10am to 6pm, every inch of space in all the main areas is taken up by hordes of people who move from point A to point B, taking their selfies and photos regardless of how many strangers are in the background, buying their gimmicky souvenirs before departing the city without actually putting any real money back into it. As a result, prices for rooms, food and drinks are exorbitant (like, 10 euro for a can of Coke Zero) which then makes it more difficult for the tourists who actually are staying in the city and for the people who live there to actually afford to enjoy it. In addition to this, the cruise ships displace water which cause damage to the foundations of the city, despite local people and organisations protesting and begging the government for restrictions on cruise ships and day tourists to the city.
We did find though, that after 7pm, when the majority of those tourists leave, a completely different vibe takes over the city. It is much more relaxed and calm, you begin to hear locals speaking Italian and you can move freely through the streets. It is actually a shame for the people visiting during the day that they don’t get to experience this side of Venice, as our opinions of Venice in the evening compared to in the day could NOT be more different.
Where We Stayed
We booked an Airbnb in the Castello area, which is a short walk to St Marks Square. The area is quiet and removed from the mayhem of the sites like the Basilica, Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal, and was a good little refuge for us to walk around and explore during the day. It was nearby the “Venetian Arsenal” which is a Byzantine area shipyard that we didn’t even know existed before walking by it randomly.
Where We Ate
The food in Venice has a reputation of being of low-quality and, as stated above, expensive. However, we were lucky that Brodie’s friend who is from this region of Italy took us to “Paradiso Perduto” which is described as “the most typical Venetian place in Venice”. Their specialty is the seafood, so we ordered a seafood platter with an assorted of fish, squid and others, which was all fresh and delicious. It is quite removed from the area most tourists would normally stay, but it is well worth exploring these areas that are further away to find more affordable food of a higher quality.
What We Did
St Mark’s Square and Basilica:
Rialto Bridge and Bridge of Sighs:
Favourite Things About Venice
Todd: The concept and planning of the city on the canals.
Brodie: Getting lost in the narrow streets.