So we went to Venice and I didn’t love it! Is that some horrible sin? I am not too sure what I was expecting. We normally do a bit more research into a place prior to going to see what we want to do but the last few weeks have been a bit hectic so we didn’t get around to our usual planning. I feel I will go back to give it a second chance, but perhaps when I am older and have amassed a small fortune. It is definitely a pricey town.
Because hotel prices were so expensive (with school holidays) we stayed on the island of Lido. It was actually quite pleasant and I would suggest staying there. The waterbus from Lido to St Marco’s Square is only about 20 minutes and wouldn’t be a commute I would mind too much if I had to do it everyday. It is a bit like staying in the suburbs in terms of what is there (although there are restaurants, gelaterias and the beaches). The transport was also really pricey, although very efficient and easy to understand if you can navigate any city metro or tube system.
Perhaps the ‘worst’ part was buying the VeniceCards. As mentioned we hadn’t really done our research but I had read that with the VeniceCard you get reduced travel if you were 29 or under. At the airport we decided to get them, which for two of €70! The list of museums seemed fairly long and we thought it would be worth the spend (as I had bought a similar card in Paris which is extremely worth it). However, it didn’t give access to St Mark’s and L’ Accademia or the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (although there is a discount for the latter and a number of other places). The first museum we visited was the Jewish Museum (which I sadly wouldn’t recommend, simply not being very interestingly curated). It cost €4 at full price. We started to feel a bit cheated. We also visited the Doge’s Palace (which is pretty impressive) and the Natural History Museum, after discovering the Fabric and Costume was closed until May (so close!). Tim sadly misplaced the tickets after that. And although I was mad initially I soon was quite happy that we weren’t pressured into going to every museum on the list to get our money’s worth. I did think I would do a calculation to show whether it is ‘worth’ it so check that out at the end of the post.
Generally we felt that Venice is too focussed on tourists, which is nice and all, but that translates into gouging tourists for money. Overpriced gondola rides and substandard meals which are (you guessed it) overpriced and lots of tourist tat for sale. In some ways it felt a bit like a theme park. Some elements also seemed rather dated – chintz featured high in our hotel room (which admittedly because we couldn’t afford a gorgeous modern apartment I went full on chintz).
I feel like I only scratched the surface of the islands but I don’t feel like it was easy to get into. I generally have an incredible sense of direction. On holiday I seem to be like a homing pigeon. But with Venice’s winding alleys it was really difficult to get off the ‘tourist tracks’ when you were trying to head somewhere specific. I would say we did on perhaps two occasions and at those times I really enjoyed the quieter walkways and the glimpse into local Venetians lives. In particular one afternoon we found ourselves in a little palazzo by the San Giacomo dell’Orio. Children must have just finished school because there were children running around and playing with parents and grandparents watching. It was really loud but felt like ‘real Italy’.
That all feels horribly negatives but Venice is beautiful. And even though it is a little warn around the edges a sense of awe sinks in when you realise the history of the place and that it is all sitting there so precariously with the threat of flooding always prominent (in fact what we thought were hideous benches everywhere we later discovered to be flood paths which they set up when the water comes in so they can walk around).
Plus no cars! At all on the main island! Amazing.
The adult card costs €39 and the junior (which is 29 and under) is €29 which gives a discount (of avout £12) on the 3 day travel card (although you apparently also have to buy a £4 guide book!).
Included in the ticket are the following places:
Doge’s Palace, Museo Correr, National Archaelogical Museum, Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana – combined ticket price: €16
Ca’ Rezzonico – Museum of 18th-Century Art: €8
Palazzo Mocenigo: closed until May, ticket prices not available
Carlo Goldoni’s House: €5
Ca’ Pesaro – international Gallery of Modern Art: €8
Glass Museum: €8
Lace Museum: €5
Museum of Natural History: €8
A selection of of 16 churches. These normally charge a couple euro to get in but prices weren’t available online.
That is a total of €58 excluding the churches. I would say it is worthwhile if you are both 29 or under and plan to visit a couple of museums (do your research before though). The ticket does also allow you to skip the queue, which might be more of an issue in summer when the crowds are probably more numerous.