How to experience the romantic Venice of your dreams
It seems wherever you travel in Europe you will find an area –that bills itself as the Venice of fill in blank, “Little Venice” in London, “Of the North” in the Nyhavn area of Copenhagen, the “Venice of Poland” Wroclaw etc. The reason these destinations were named as such, was to convey the romantic beauty and waterfront locations of their “Venice”.
On a recent trip to Italy in late June, I wanted to have the mythical perfect Venice trip experience with my husband. Late June is not the best time to visit Venice, as it can be quite hot, and crowded. However, summer is the best time of year for us to travel for a 2-week trip, so I thought this would be a great way for us to end our Italian vacation.
We arrived at the Hotel San Clemente in style in a private water taxi. We were welcomed at the dock by a bellman dressed in a tuxedo, and I thought “oh no” this place is going to be too fancy. But other than the stiff suits, we felt relaxed at the hotel. The hotel grounds were thoughtfully landscaped and included a large swimming pool; the breakfast buffet was quite bountiful with a wide selection of hot and cold items and fresh fruit. To get to St. Mark’s Square, the hotel provided boat service several times per hour. Also the concierge was able to get us discounted tickets, advice on best places to eat based upon our criteria, and other helpful tips.
Our disenchantment began when we took the boat launch to St. Mark’s Square which was teeming with tourists including throngs of tour groups. Also in the mix were hawkers some shoving roses in your face, others selling knock-off designer bags. The canal water was riddled with a rainbow of plastic water bottles, trash bins were overflowing and I even saw a dirty diaper by our boat launch area!
Surprisingly a short walk or water bus ride from St. Mark’s square will bring you to the Dorsoduro sestieri (region) of Venice. Simply walking across the bridge brings you to a different world, of quiet lanes flanking canals, galleries with locally handcrafted art, people walking their dogs – in a word, the Venice you came to visit. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection located in Dorsoduro, is one of my favorite museums, as it has a choice selection of modern art including a whimsical Calder headboard. We also visited the mandatory Doge’s palace in St. Mark’s square in mid-afternoon where there was no wait time for entry.
Tips for Visiting Venice
- Avoid the summer if possible – May & early-June, and September are ideal. Even better if you don’t mind a bit of rain to visit during the off-season.
- Consider staying outside of San Marco Dorsoduro is pleasant and nearby St. Mark’s square. Other options include staying at offshore islands: San Clemente, Mazozorbo, Isola delle Rose, or The Lido which faces the Adriatic Sea so offers beach resorts.
- Visit the Outer Islands Burano to see the colorful houses. Torcello for an alfresco lunch, or visit the Lido and go to the ocean
- Choose your visitation times wisely to avoid tour groups Lunch or mid-afternoon are good times.