Venice — so many things come to mind upon hearing the name of this beautiful, unique and, of course, romantic city. Stretching across 117 tiny islands intertwined with 177 canals and lying adjacent to the Adriatic Sea, Venice is known for its winding waterways rather than roads, gondolas maneuvered by men in striped shirts with straw hats, and a musical reputation boasting Vivaldi as one of the locals.
But is Venice really as charming as it’s said to be? The best way to find out is to take a walk down a narrow footpath alongside one of the canals, wander through the street markets, watch the gondolas (and even take a ride if you’ve got deep enough pockets!) and have some delicious Italian food and a glass of wine at one of the outdoor cafes. For travelers on a budget, Veniceis extremely accessible. Affordable hostels are not hard to find, and the numerous sidewalk pizzerias serve amazing (giant) pieces of pizza for very reasonable prices, as well as sandwiches and tasty gelato that won’t deplete your travel funds.
Vendors start setting up shop early in Campo Santa Margherita, the quaint little piazza where our hostel, Antico Capone, is located. Here, a fishmonger prepares the day’s catch. Fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and flowers are brought daily to be sold to locals and tourists alike. Competition means that the prices are very reasonable and the quality is excellent.
While riding in one of the waterbuses (vaporetti), it is possible to get a great view of Venice's amazing architecture. The foundations of the buildings rest on piles of petrified wood which don't decay when submerged in the water.
The vaporetti takes us to Saint Mark’s Basin, just in front of Piazza San Marco, the principal piazza in Venice, where the Doge’s Palace is located.
Gondoliers such as this one are everywhere, all in the typical dress— black pants, a blue and white striped shirt, and a straw hat with a red ribbon. Gondolas are only used by tourists these days and never by the locals. The reason is probably the price — a minimum of $80 USD per hour, per person!
A view from inside Giacomo Casanova’s gloomy prison cell in the Doge’s Palace. Casanova, who is said to have been quite tall (over 6 ft), must have had a hard time in this tiny cell, which is only 5ft high. Although the exact truth may never be fully known, his memoirs include a detailed account of his stay here and of his eventual escape.
The streets surrounding the Doge's Palace are lined with restaurants, shops, and vendors. Street vendors such as this one sell the same range of typical touristy items -- sometimes more interesting items can be found inside the shops.
A look inside one of the many shops bordering the busy streets may bring some interesting finds. For a unique souvenir, shops such as this one offer custom, personalized, handcrafted items that can be made quickly and for a reasonable price.
The quaint little paths between the old buildings offer a glimpse of normal, everyday life in Venice. Take some time to wander away from the larger attractions and enjoy the quiet parts of the city.
Street performers are hard to miss in Venice, and the music is always great. Here, a man plays crystal glasses filled with various amounts of water to produce tinkling melodies for a gathering crowd.
Sunset in Venice. The beautiful colors reflect off the canal and the cool night breeze carries the salty smell of the sea along with the soft sounds of distant music from a nearby piazza.
The piazza at night is a great place to hang out with friends and maybe meet some locals. Funky bars and cafes are open late and are great places to enjoy artwork or live music.