Due to thunder and lightning, Venice didn’t make it onto the agenda as planned. However I’ve been to the area a handful of times, so I’m sharing some of my personal experiences and tips for Venice… feel free to comment and add your own!
Best Time to Visit: October to avoid tourist season… keep in mind that the streets in Venice are small and narrow, so just try to imagine going from Point A to Point B with 50 people infront of you during high season.
Best Time to Avoid: February, during Italy’s Carnevale celebration (which originated in Venice, hence all of strange masks in the shops… to give you a better idea, it’s similar to Halloween but Carnevale is on a whole different level). You’ll be faced with crowds and high hotel prices.
Transport: If you’re already in Italy take the train (don’t bother with flight packages or tours… it’s a roam your way around city). Many main stations will have a direct train to Venice and sometimes you’ll get lucky with a deal if you book ahead of time!
Want to hear a funny story? I flew from NYC to Venice for the first time 5 years ago. Waited at baggage claim and found the wheels missing on my luggage. With zero muscle on my arms, I dragged it outside of the airport, threw up my hand for a taxi and nothing came. Venice is the land of canals so transport is by water or foot.
What did I do? My luggage was rolled up the bridge and thrown down the bridge, in order to get to my hotel. Needless to say, pack light and expect to do a lot of walking or water taxi-ing
should your rollers get broken off your bag. Avoid gondolas, I heard they’re a rip off; prices start around 100 euro for 15-20 minutes of singing down a shady alley- you’ve been warned.
Food: I recommend packing a lunch because Venice is full of tourist traps. I get extremely annoyed when I pay double the amount for frozen food quality… however I will be searching for some local finds my next trip. If you beat me to Venice (it might be a while before I’m back), stop into a local Venetian Osteria for cicchetti. I’ll be writing a post about it my next visit.
CICCHETTI UPDATE (November 1, 2011): I totally beat you back to Venice and I’m so glad I did because I have this local recommendation to share with you.
Atmosphere: Yes it’s beautiful. Venice is definitely romantic, and I’m pretty sure your photos will make you go “oooo and ahhh”… however the canals might smell, so try to “snap and go”.