Venice Travel Guide
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As there are only two ways to get around Venice (by foot or by boat), tourists who haven't lined their pockets with enough cash for a private water taxi transfer typically have to hoof it along canals, down alleys, and over bridges to reach their accommodation, lugging their baggage the whole way.
2013 was a record year for Venice tourism; La Serenissima welcomed nearly 60,000 daily visitors on average. The Venice Times actually figured out that each Venetian who lives in the historic center (excluding the islands) is "'in charge' of about 354 tourists per day." Compare that to Florence's 22 tourists per resident, and it's obvious Venice is a little crowded. Each visitor naturally arrives with some belongings, and that's exactly the problem.
So you’ve been to Venice during the warmer weather—and it was great—but to see the city in a different way you might want to check things out during the late winter. After all, that’s when the Acqua Alta rolls into town, and makes a pair of waterproof boots essential for getting from point A to point B.
More often than not the Adriatic Sea gets cranky during the winter, and the tides strengthen. That’s especially the case for the waters in the Venetian Lagoon, and that means the lagoon becomes one with the lowest parts of the city—even more so than usual.
Venice is known for its architecture, its gondolas, and of course its water, but if one group gets their way the city will soon be known for its theme park. Apparently, one developer is eager to build something else where tourists can head after they’re done filling their carry-ons with Murano glass and Venetian carnival masks.
The group behind the idea is Zamperia, and they’ve released their plans to shell out around €80 million to set up an amusement park on the artificial island of Sacca San Biagio, including plans for a 160-foot Ferris wheel as well as a roller coaster. The island is currently made up of landfill waste, so on the bright side they really can’t make things worse.
George Clooney got himself into some hot water this week in Venice. The debonaire actor was in town to promote his upcoming movie Gravity with co-star Sandra Bullock at the Venice Film Festival when he nonchalantly took the wheel of a water taxi.
As is the case everywhere he goes, the locals were so blinded by Clooney's charm offensive they didn't even realize he was breaking the law in the process well, all except one. After seeing George steering the boat, lawyer Mario D'Elia asked authorities to find out if he had the appropriate nautical license and a permit to pilot a water taxi. “I asked the authorities to go to the Hotel Cipriani to see if Clooney has a nautical license,” D’Elia told the local paper.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: Piazzale Roma, Venice, Italy.
This week's Travel Cat is from Jaunted Instagram fan @valancyr, who spotted this fluffy white kitty roaming the mosaic courtyard of a hotel near the Piazzale Roma in Venice, Italy.
The best way to get around Venice is by foot, but of course there are plenty of gondoliers that will tell you differently as you make your way around the city. Despite the lack of cars and roads—and the abundance of canals and waterways—there’s another way to cruise around town. Over on the Lido bicycles are everywhere, but don’t be sad if you forgot to bring yours too, because bike sharing is alive and well in Venice.
We took the vaporetto over to Venice’s longest island, and immediately stumbled onto the city’s "Bike Sharing Venezia" program after getting off the waterbus. Unfortunately we weren’t just able to swipe our credit card and pedal away, but this time it was due to some poor planning and not the lack of a chip-and-pin credit card.
Venice’s bike sharing program works much like other bike sharing systems around the globe. Swipe your access card, pick out your bike, pedal around, and then return it before too much time passes. You’re encouraged to use the bikes to get to the next stop, as it’s cheaper to do it that way and it keeps the bikes available for others looking to do the same.
In case you haven't heard, London's famous landmark Big Ben is leaning. The announcement was made just this month, with the detail that the very tippy top of the clock tower is 1.5 feet off center. This has naturally sparked fears that Big Ben may take a dive into the Thames, butfrom all we know of Venice's various leaning towers, this won't happen in our liftetime...nor that of our children or children's children, so chillax.
For comparison, see the Campanile (bell tower) of Chiesa di Santo Stefano (St. Stephen's church) in our photo above. It's one of several towers with an impressive lean in La Serenissima, and it's been boozily tilting (and twisting) since it was rebuilt in the 1800s following a lightning strike nearly three centuries earlier. Although it's in constant danger of collapse, tourists still absentmindedly gather below it at pasticcerias and ristorantes.
Even worse is the 143' white campanile of San Giorgio dei Greci, which was completed in 1592 and has been leaning from the start. Paranoid travelers will now likely add "hard hat" to their Venice packing list, we suppose.
This is the kind of thing you miss when you pull the blind down on your window seat: Venice from the air.
We took this on a BA flight from Gatwick to Bari the week before last. When we’d flown the same route a couple of years before, we’d been treated to an unforgettable sight of Venice, with the Grand Canal snaking its way down the middle of the city. So this time we were prepared.
As we were crossing the Alps, we asked one of the flight attendants when we’d be going over Venice. “Will we be going over Venice?” she said, in that typical glum BA style. “I have no idea. Only the pilot would know that.” So we asked her to ask the pilot, who said that yes, in 10 minutes, it’d be coming up.
Ten minutes later, there it was. Not as perfect a view as the last time, but you can still make out the Grand Canal, Giudecca, San Michele, Murano and the Lido. Straordinario!
Some of the big rental car companies have gotten on the green travel bandwagon, but now there’s a new company in the neighborhood. Out in the Los Angeles area, MPG CarRental is only doing hybrids and electric automobiles, and they’ve even got some which are way cooler than a Prius.
A few of the cheapest options we found for a weeklong rental in the upcoming weeks were around $320, for the aforementioned Prius. However, they only include 150 miles per day, so just keep that in mind if you’re planning to use the hybrid for its true road trip potential.
Yesterday the Venice Film Festival wrapped up, but not before dozens of A-Listers passed through town.
It's been quite a while since the paparazzi had to chase down Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie with water taxis in Venice, since The Tourist wrapped filming and hit the theaters months ago. The stars have moved onJolie to filming a Bosnian war movie and Depp to Hawaii for Pirates of the Caribbean 4but apparently the musty allure of Venice crept into Depp's heart and stayed, as he's just bought himself a palazzo on the Grand Canal.
It's not a flashy one at all (as you can see in the photo above), but the Daily Mail reports that Palazzo Dona Sangiantoffetti is costing Depp £8.5million ($13.5 million) after a bidding war with an Arab prince. There are only so many available palazzi left right on the Grand Canal, we suppose, especially since many have been turned into museums.
Catherine Deneuve spent the weekend in Venice where she presented her latest film "Potiche"' at the 67th Venice Film Festival, and proved she is still on the move.
The French actress first attended the festival in the 1960s with the movie "Belle De Jour." At the time, Deneuve was not only an upcoming actress, but also part of the '60s jet set which also included Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda and George Hamilton.