If you find yourself with the opportunity to visit Venice, it’s important to separate yourself from the crowds of cruise ship people who treat this magical city as if it were an amusement park. Discover little alleyways, winding canals and hidden tavernas (like our beloved little taverna in our Campiello del Remer). Walk until you can only hear the sounds of the water slapping against the narrow canal walls and the call of the gondoliers (Ooo-ee!) as they narrowly avoid collisions. Meet local artisans, many of whom come from generations of artisans specializing in their craft (“this is the color leather my family is known for”). You can’t miss tasting the best gelato in the world. Fresh grilled fish is outstanding there too! Ride the vaportetto (waterbus) down the Grand Canal. Bring a good map (I loved my laminated Streetwise Venice), but enjoy getting lost. Talk to strangers. Experience the real Venice.
Find a trusted gondolier and take a ride through the city just before dusk.
(The rides become more expensive at sunset and more mosquitoes come out then anyway.) I recommend Giovanni (gondolier’s nickname: Giovannini) who works mostly out of the station outside of the famous Hotel Danieli. He is very knowledgeable and kind.
Lastly, try to peruse at least one interesting book about Venice before (or at least during) your trip so you can really appreciate the feast that is Venice. Here’s a post I wrote about my favorite Venice books.