Going to Venice for a romantic weekend is a classical trip. One might think it’s very touristy, lucking of originality, even banal… And all this might be true – but if you don’t follow an ordinary scenario, your trip to Venice will become one of the most beautiful travel experiences!
1. Avoid the center of the city during the day and explore the sideways
Venice doesn’t consist only of the square San Marco, Grand Canal and Rialto bridge. There are different districts in the city, which are calmer than the main tourist attractions, but not less beautiful and sometimes even more charming. The canals are everywhere in Venice, not only in its central part, and they create the unique atmosphere and image of the city. We spent the whole days strolling around different districts – Cannareggio, San Polo, Dorsoduro, – sometimes with no idea where we were, looking for the nice coffee shops and bars, taking photos of the bridges (without any tourists around) and entering tiny shops here and there. Even if I usually prepare my trips and have a list of the must-see places, sometimes it’s a pleasure to get lost and abandon the plans!
2. Visit the city center in the morning
But what about the center ? – will you ask me. Isn’t it a pity to miss the most famous Venetian architectural attractions? It would be a pity, indeed! But instead of sweating among hundreds of tourists in the narrow Venetian streets in the afternoon, you’d better sacrifice a few hours of morning sleep and come to the San Marco square on sunrise… Morning Venice is almost unrecognizable. The souvenir shops are closed and the streets are so empty that you can hear the echoes of your steps. The only rare passants are the inhabitants of the city going to work. No gondolas in the canals, only the boats loaded with products for the restaurants, goods for the shops and hotels. It’s so interesting to see the real life of the city!
3. Rent Airbnb instead of a hotel
I should say, I’m a big fan of Airbnb. I admire luxury hotels with their smooth hotel life and service perfection, I adore small boutique hotels, calm and relaxing, I enjoy historical hotels which hosted famous writers, actors and musicians… But I find that living in someone’s flat makes you feel like a local – a feeling that you can hardly get in any hotel, except some very particular ones. In Venice we chose a studio on the last floor, giving on the courtyard. From the windows we could see old Venetian roofs. When I find myself in a place like this, I always try to imagine what kind of life I would have there – and in that studio in heart of Canaletto, a calm residential district of Venice, I could imagine a very peaceful and stressless life.
4. Ask the locals a piece of advice for the restaurants and bars
If you rent an Airbnb flat and you are lucky with the host, it will be easy for you to get insider information about nice spots in the area. As a local, he usually knows where the cuisine is delicious and where it’s better not to go. To be honest, I’m often lucky with the Airbnb hosts and Venice wasn’t an exception. So we were advised a few fish restaurants and wine bars, which we found really good. If you stay in a hotel or your Airbnb host isn’t very friendly, you can talk to a barman in a nearby coffee shop or just read some local’s blogs. I often find that “official” information isn’t quite accurate and the services like TripAdvisor became too commercial, so the locals remain the only credible source of information.
5. Discover Venice by night
Like Venice early in the morning is very different from Venice during the day, Venice by night has a special charm and character. The gondolas silently slipping on the black water of the canals reminds you all the historical romans you’ve ever read. The city returns to the Medieval Age and when you walk along narrow streets hidden in the dark, you feel excited and a little scared. You almost see a tall shadow wrapped in a black cape…
I don’t know any other city as theatrical as Venice. When you seat on the bord of the Grand Canal in the evening, looking to the dark palazzo on the other side (in the city center many buildings are inhabited, so not many windows have light in the evening), you have a strong feeling of seeing a decoration for a theater performance. But at the same time when you find yourself in the residential districts, you can perfectly imagine living in Venice – buying a boat, making jogging along the canals and taking vaporetto to go to the office. This contrast between different parts of the city for me is one of the reasons why Venice is so fascinating, like a woman who knows to be sometimes a femme fatale and sometimes a perfect housewife…