I’ve been in Venice multiple times but I never get tired of this unique place. Among all Italian cities Venice is the most contradictory: some people adore it, some people detest it but no one remains indifferent. Those who make bad impression of Venice usually come there in a wrong moment or stay in the wrong areas or just have a bad time planning. Venice is very particular and one needs to plan his first trip carefully if he wants to get the best of this city.
In my previous article I’ve already gave some advice about visiting Venice. Now I’d like to share with you some of my new favorite addresses which we selected together with my best friend during our last trip in January.
Where to sleep in Venice
One of many advantages of going to Venice off-season is a large choice of available hotels and low prices. If you are lucky like we were you can even get over classed for a better room once you arrive to the hotel.
It was a while I wanted to stay in a room with a canal view in Venice and this time my dream came true at San Cassiano hotel. We chose it for its classical Venetian design and a balcony in the breakfast hall but we also got the most beautiful room with TWO windows offering the stunning view at the Grand Canal! The room was huge, with a high ceiling and ancient furniture which made us feel like staying in a palace. Obviously if you prefer modern design and brand-new hotels San Cassiano is not for you but if like me you’re a history and antiquity lover the decorations will drive you crazy! Enormous murano lamps and antique paintings everywhere create truly Venetian atmosphere which we very much appreciated.
Breakfast is very basic but as my friend said, who cares about breakfast when we can have it enjoying this kind of view! Just look at this:
What to visit in Venice in off-season
Off-season traveling is often an occasion for me to visit museums, galleries and other places of interest which might be overseen in high season. The reasons are simple: first, cold or rainy off-season weather, second, the absence of the queues and crowds.
The floating city is full of the cultural attractions and one can spend months there discovering the new places every day. Without mentioning the most famous ones like the Doge’s Palace and the St Mark’ Basilica, there’s plenty of other sights which are definitely worth a visit. Here’s my short list of must-see in Venice when it’s too cold outside to stroll the whole day along the canals (in the last trip I only made two first ones but planning to visit the rest next time) :
This majestic palace houses the Museum of the Eighteenth Century and disposes a huge collection of paintings, sculptures and furniture. Each room is beautifully decorated, the ballroom being the most magnificent one. The walls and the ceilings are painted by the great artists. To sum up, I found the building itself and its interiors even more impressive than the painting gallery located in Ca’ Rezzonico. It has to be mentioned though that the furniture and artworks were brought to Ca’ Rezzonico from other different palazzo, so the concentration of beauty is really striking! I also adored the majestic stairs at the entrance to the palace and beautiful stained-glass windows letting the light in.
Must-visit for any architecture lover. Built in the 16th century by the noble family Grimani, this palace has its unique style quiet different from other Venetian palazzo and inspired by Ancient Rome. There’s no artwork collection but the architecture and rooms’ decorations are amazing. Multicolor marble and frescoes, Roman-style gildings and sculptures look even more impressive without any furniture inside the rooms. The building was totally renovated and all the details are in the best condition. I very much enjoyed minimalism and architectural harmony of this place.
Haven’t visited this place yet and it’s on my must-see list for the next trip to Venice. It’s a home-museum recreating the residence of the noble family Queriny Stampalia and containing precious furniture, paintings, sculptures and other objects of art.
A photo / contemporary art gallery located in the neo-gothic palace on the island of Giudecca. It was closed for the winter period when we wanted to visit it – by the way, this is one of the risks which you take traveling off-season: some museums and other sights might be temporarily closed. Check the website or better call the museum you plan to visit, to be sure you won’t find yourself in front of the locked door.
It’s not a hidden gem, on the contrary, one of the most famous painting galleries in Venice. Still I’ve never visited it (shame on me!) but it’s definitely on my list.
Where to eat and drink in Venice
In Italy finding a good restaurant isn’t difficult: basically you eat well everywhere. Anyway in such a touristy city as Venice the quality of food can be lower because the restaurants don’t need to win clients’ loyalty. Even if the clients’ opinions on TripAdviser are still important for the owners, eat-and-go tourists’ psychology does a disservice to Venetian restaurants. Here’re some addresses I tried myself and would definitely recommend anybody who wants to have good meal in the friendly ambience.
A restaurant on the canal bank (well most of the restaurants in Venice are on the canal banks) which we found by pure hazard one evening when we were too tired to go in a fancy place and decided to try something nearby in Canareggio. Delicious cicchetti (traditional Venetian snacks), generous starters and excellent fish – everything for fair price and served with a friendly smile. Rustic interior and outside tables for nice weather. I will gladly get back there next time I’ll be in Venice.
My absolute favorite cicchetti & wine spot! I pass by this tiny bar each time I visit Venice and always stay longer than expected because there’re always new types of cicchetti I want to try accompanied by really good wine. The only inconvenience of Vino Vero in winter is that the place is very small, only three tables for two inside. In summer you can stay at the table outside by the canal but in off-season the weather is usually not good enough for it. Go there a bit before aperitivo time, to make sure you’ll get a place.
Another wine bar which I like but the ambience there is different from the previous one. Vino Vero is usually crowded, with many young people discussing and laughing, rather noisy but joyful. Ai Rusteghi is a more “serious”, hidden in a small yard far away from street noise. The owner himself is at the counter, cutting prosciutto and preparing cheese plates. The choice of wine is large and you can find exceptional bottles. You can have dinner there, too – we didn’t try it but taking into consideration the quality and size of the mixed prosciutto & cheese plate which we ordered, the meal at Ai Rusteghi should be good, too.
Truly Venetian pasticceria with large choice of pastries including traditional ones for Venice and excellent coffee. Far away from touristic itinerary this place is visited mostly by the locals. We saw the Venetians having their first spritz of the day while we were having breakfast (ok we were kind of late that day:)).
The most famous coffee house in Venice established in 1720 located in the heart of Venice at the piazza San Marco. Everyone who plans a trip to Venice will come across the mention of this place earlier or later. Is it crowded? Yes! Caffè Florian is a touristy spot and you risk to have wait in the queue. Is it worth a visit? Definitely yes! The interiors are very beautiful and yay feel like a time machine brought you to the 19th century…
The best cocktail bar I could find in Venice. There’s everything I love about cocktail bars: the list of the cocktails isn’t too long but each drink is a masterpiece, beautifully served in a special glass and accompanied by small snacks according to the taste of the cocktail. Stylish interior where old elements are mixed with modern ones. And friendly service always willing to help with the choice of the cocktail. Best place to finish the day in Venice!
To sum up, visiting Venice off-season is a really good idea. It can completely change your ideas about this city and make you discover its hidden gems. The weather might be gloomy but you’re lucky you can enjoy sunny days in January and even have coffee on the terrace like it happened to me;)