TRAVEL: Make the Most of a Trip to Venice

Ask someone what the most romantic city in the world is. A lot of people - most, in fact - will probably tell you that it’s Paris. (Of course, most of the people who answer in this way have probably never been on a romantic vacation in Paris! Spoiler alert: it’s overrated.) The rest will probably tell you that the most romantic city in the world is the Italian city of Venice. (You may get the occasional oddball who tries to tell you that the correct answer is New York City. As great as the Big Apple is, this is incorrect on many, many levels.)
Talks of Venice conjure up images of unique alleyways, world-class art museums, extraordinary palaces, clean and calm canals - it’s an absolutely beautiful city, one that is, in itself, something of a masterpiece. And if you’re going, you’ll want to experience the city to its fullest. While you may not be the kind of person who likes to travel somewhere and do the obvious, tourist-y things, the obvious, tourist-y things in Venice are genuinely some of the best things about the city, and you’ll be missing out if you decline them!
So here’s a quick guide to making the most out of your time in Venice.

First off: learn some Italian
Yes, it’s true that you can get by in Italy without learning any Italian. You’ll do fine at most hotels and restaurants, and a lot of the cities that are really heavy on tourists, like Naples and Rome, shouldn’t present you with much trouble, either. But the fact is that Italy isn’t a great place in which to be ignorant of the native tongue. 
Some of you may have experience of traveling to a few places in Europe already. Maybe you’ve been to Germany or Denmark. In such places, it’s easy to get the impression that most Europeans are pretty proficient when it comes to English; it’s really easy to get by in these places without knowing a single word of their language (although they’d certainly prefer it if you gave it a try). But as the Education First website shows, Italy only has a moderate average proficiency in the English language. This actually makes it one of the least proficient places for English-speaking in the entire continent. If you want to fully experience the magic of Venice, then it’s better to have a little bit of Italian under your belt.

Photo Courtesy of: Good Free Photos
Get on a gondola
When people imagine Venice in the context of romance, they’re usually imagining couples on a gondola ride. And if you were planning on going to Venice without going for a gondola ride, then you may need to seek help. The beautiful waterways of Venice deserve to be seen and experienced from the comfort of a gondola, rowed by a gondolier (who may or may not sing to you as they row. That’s mostly a romance movie myth, I’m afraid, though some will do it if you pay them enough euros.)
Gondola rides are beautiful whenever you want to ride, though a lot of people underestimate the thrill of a night ride. If you don’t want a gondolier, then you can actually hire a private gondola for you and your friends. Be careful, though - they expect those gondolas back in one piece, probably more than they expect you back in one piece. And gondolas are expensive beasts, so do take care!

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
Experience the food!
There’s an exclamation point at the end of that sub-heading, and for very good reason. It’s difficult to exaggerate just how good the food in Venice is - in much of Italy, in fact - and going out of your way to ensure that you try the best food you can is definitely worth it. Italy houses many of the world’s finest cooks, and its food is known worldwide for its quality. However, you should know that “Italian food” isn’t that helpful a category. The food in Italy is perhaps more regionalized than in any country in the world.
That means that the food you get in Venice can be worlds apart from what you’d get in Milan, Rome, or Naples. So people here don’t talk so much of Italian food as they do Milanian food, or Neapolitan food, or Venetian food. Thankfully, as a cicchetti tour in Venice (which combines the previous section with this one!) will quickly reveal to you, Venetian food is perhaps the most famed and delicious food in all of Italy. You’ve picked the right place!

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
See amazing art
A few centuries ago or so, there was this little thing called the Italian Renaissance, though it wasn’t really acknowledged as such until around the 19th century. It was one of the most glorious and creative artistic periods in all of human history, a surge of incredible achievement in the arts and intellectual pursuits that still grips and astonishes people to this day. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello - all their works can be found in Venice. (And if you immediately thought of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of the classic painters, sculptors, and writers, then get thee to Venice asap! Or, y’know, Wikipedia.)
If you’re not too big on all the classical art, then there’s no need to worry. Venice also has a bunch of world-class contemporary artists, and there are museums dedicated to their work. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Last Supper, it’s not in Venice. You’ll have to go to Milan (and book a 15-minute viewing!) in order to see it.
Off the beaten path
Of course, there are loads of great things to do in Venice that are difficult to find in any tourist guidebook. This is why you should take the time to get to grips with a little Italian (the language, not a small Italian person). When you know some of the native tongue, it’s easier to ask the locals for suggestions and directions to restaurants, museums, bars, and amenities with which they’re more familiar. These places have plenty to offer, and they also tend to be much cheaper - as well as not so filled with fellow tourists!


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