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Is it just me?

First, I would like to say thank you to all the posters who gave me suggestions and advice for my trip to Italy this year. It was magical!

My question is :..Venice - does it ever stop being so enchanting?

It was August and it was hot and yet, I found many quiet places to absorb its beauty.

Posted by
173 posts

Venezia is magical...I'll go back everytime I am in italy if I have the chance...great for taking pics

Posted by
336 posts

Same. I’ve gone 3 times. But I make sure I’m away from piazza san marco and rialto area. Way too many people around these places

Posted by
1185 posts

Bad news, Victoria--once infected with the Venice-bug, the only cure is more time in Venice!

And, yes, there are always quiet, out-of-the-way places to enjoy La Serenissima. It just takes the tiniest amount of effort and, voila! you are enjoying some quiet time away from the hordes.

Posted by
61 posts

Welcome to the club, Victoria. Every time we talk about returning to Italy, we say, "should we include Venice again?" Then we turn to each other and laugh. Stupid question. Of course we have to go to Venice!

Posted by
1223 posts

No, Victoria, it is not just you.
We are returning in May for the tenth visit.

Posted by
3940 posts

If there is such thing as love at first sight for a city - it was Venice for me - the second I walked thru the doors at the train stn and saw the Grand Canal - I was a goner. Been 4 times since 2008, and planning to return for Carnival (my ultimate bucket list trip) next year.

Posted by
1943 posts

Welcome to the club, Victoria. Every time we talk about returning to
Italy, we say, "should we include Venice again?" Then we turn to each
other and laugh. Stupid question. Of course we have to go to Venice!

Hah. greytop. Guess I should include Venice on our 4th trip to Italy next year--never have been, believe it or not. Right now, I feel that way about Roma. Cannot fathom going back to Italy unless I include the Eternal City. It was that good. I used to feel that way about Florence, and I still like it, but after two trips it became a tad claustrophobic. Guess I should have branched out more instead of spending all my time in the Central District north of the Arno.

Posted by
224 posts

Nope. As we were wheels up from our first visit, I turned to my husband and said I think we should cap off every vacation with Venice.

Posted by
11273 posts

I spent several years trying to convince DH to go to Europe. When we finally went in 2010, our first stop was Venice. On our 3rd day there (on a 3 week trip to Italy), we were relaxing at a cafe in the October sun with wine and lunch he looked around and said “We have to come back.” We’ve been to Venice 10 times now with a couple stays as long as a week. I dream of spending a month there!

Posted by
1223 posts

Me. Arriving 22 September, two and a half weeks. Then
My wife and I, arriving 22May 2019, 17 nights, for us quite a short visit.

Posted by
3093 posts

Barbra:
We are all sorry you did not like Venice!
Were you only there a very short time?
I think Venice merits, at the least! , three or four days.
The last two trips I have stayed there two weeks each, and never run out of things to do.
I've been there six times, and have never smelled anything bad.
Yes, there are huge crowds, but you don't have to go far to get a calle or canal all to yourself.
Perhaps you will try Venice again on another trip?!

Posted by
219 posts

I am glad I am not the only one. This was trip 2. I tried not to do my typical planning. I walked around and got lost (often). I spent most of my time walking with a few exceptions. Next trip, in the very shoulder season. What was your favorite time of year?

Posted by
3940 posts

The best thing about getting lost in Venice is you can’t get too lost...you’ll hit the water eventually...lol. And so many fabulous things to stumble over when lost.

Posted by
174 posts

We also felt the same way Barbra did, a Disneyland for adults with long lines everywhere. But I have a question for those of you who visit Venice frequently and stay for weeks. What does one do on repeat visits, especially when you are there for several days?

Posted by
219 posts

I feel so bad when I hear people don't or didn't enjoy their time there. Were you able to get off the beaten track at all. I found myself on paths and lanes all alone and this was August. I went to the Doge’s Palace and was virtually alone. The longest line I encountered was the Campanile for 10 minutes and had a lovely wait and chat with a German couple and their son.

Posted by
38 posts

First, what is Vanesia? Never heard of that place.

IMO Venice (Venezia) has to be approached with the right frame of mind. On my first two visits, I found it boring and bland. On my last four or so, I've found it to be relaxing (yes, relaxing) and magical. The only real differences are:

  1. My age. 35 vs. 47.
  2. My travel experience (international). First time vs. a lot of times.
  3. My expectations. To see things (like in Rome) or to just see the whole place as a 'thing'.
  4. My budget. Bargain vs. can splurge if I want to do so.
  5. My budget pt. 2. Willing to stand in Pizza San Marco at night vs. having fun sitting and drinking in Piazza San Marco at night.

I understand that 4 and 5 aren't for everyone.

Decide what is 'Venice' for you, and experience it when you go. Sit in a piazza and order a bottle of wine and just sit for an hour or more...cheap or expensive who cares. Just sit. Sit and watch. Sit and talk. Sit and smile. Rain or shine...just sit...soak it in and know that while it isn't Venice of 100 years ago or 50 or 30 but in 20 more it won't be right now either.

Posted by
1185 posts

What does one do on repeat visits, especially when you are there for several days?

Although not in Peter.S.Aus's league (you lucky son-of-a...gun!) I have spent 9 nights a couple times and 8 nights on another trip in Venice, along with some shorter visits. What does one do? Let's see, I spread out a Chorus Pass over 2 visits, and walked to each church, stopping often along the way to admire various beautiful/quirky buildings. I sat in Campo San Polo, enjoying the late-afternoon sun and watched the local kids race around on their scooters while their parents talked with each other. Did lots of "research" one time looking for the best, freshest, pear gelato I could find. Took a rowing lesson with the wonderful women of Row Venice. Took a small boat tour in and out of some small side canals. Toured the synagogues of the ghetto. Found the building my B&B was in on Barbari's woodcut in the Correr. Walked down to St. Elena and had a quiet lunch overlooking a beautiful park, with nary another tourist in sight. Found a bar where some fans of the Venezia Football Club were, um, getting ready for the match later that day in the stadium out by St. Elena. Visited San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, a wonderful, atmospheric church on the very edges of Venice, with a nice little campo out front. Tried to find as many of the quirky little gems mentioned in the book "Hidden Venice." Walked around after dark, away from the crowds, when it's just you, the shadows, centuries-old buildings, and the gentle lapping of water against the Istrian marble stones.

As do most places, Venice rewards those who prepare to visit her. Learn both the history of the place, as well as how to avoid the undeniable crush of people at certain spots during certain times. The later will make your trip less stressful and more enjoyable, while the former will inform you as to why that group of islands looks the way it does, even after all the centuries that have past.

Posted by
38 posts

@Eric. I love your reply!

I have an 8 year old. I'd love to return to Venice with her (she's been twice with us) in about 10 years and have her more fully appreciate the town. I'd like to just walk, look, take a picture, hug, move on to the next awesome place.

Posted by
219 posts

I would love to get some book suggestions. I have plentynof guide books. I want this to be my “year of Venice”. Corny, yes....

Posted by
1185 posts

Books: "Venice" Jan Morris

"Venice: A New History" Thomas F. Madden
"Secret Venice" Thomas Jonglez
"Venice for Pleasure" J. G. Links

Also, for fiction, Donna Leon's Brunetti series, and Peter.S.Aus's friend Philip Gwynne Jones's "The Venetian Game".

Posted by
219 posts

Thanks Eric. A good start! Thank you for taking the time to post that list.

Posted by
3940 posts

Re: repeat visits - I actually am to the point where I quite enjoy revisiting cities - we always fly in and out of London (except once when we flew into Paris) and stay a few nights - so we've had 7 visits to London. Paris is tied with Venice with 4 visits each - I love the familiarity with the transport system, and the fact that generally in the first few visits, we've seen all the 'big' sites so we don't feel the need to rush around trying to see everything. We can visit lesser sites that are less crowded. We can revisit favourite places and restaurants - in London, my husband ALWAYS has to visit the comic book store Forbidden Planet, so I always take the oppo to pop across the road to Hotel Chocolat and stock up for the trip home.

Venice & Paris & London are almost vacations from our vacation, since we don't feel the need to cram everything in.

Posted by
336 posts

That's interesting Nicole P.
I like the "vacation in vacation" sentence.
I've been now twice or more to many places such as Rome, Sienna, Florence, Venice, Cortina, all of Tuscan main towns and small cities, Sevilla, Paris and Provence. There's a bigger sense of relaxation when it's your second time. As you said, you go back to a favourite spot, you're not learning the city, you almost feel home.
Feels good. :-)

Posted by
205 posts

I found I liked the city even more after my first trip. I came back a second time for Regata Storica and for unfinished exploring of places that I wanted to visit.

On that second visit, I hardly went to ANY of the unfinished business because the city presented so many other things to do. That means my "unfinished business" list from trip one was also added to after trip #2.

And part of that unfinished business is so vague I might never accomplish it completely: wander. discover.
See the city away from all the places that have long lines people hate.
get to other nearby islands (be careful, you might find lines there, too, if you choose the ones everybody wants to go to)

Go to Piazza San Marco at 7am when you're almost alone with just the birds. (leave before the cruise ship passengers take over). Start walking some place and take an unexpected turn to find a previously unknown (to you) campo or wonderful little bridge over a canal. See if I can find EVERY gelato place in town (I do this in EVERY Italian city I visit)

I have never found stinky water (March and early September visits).

Once, when I thought the water was bad along Fondamenta Toletta (sounds like it would stink), I determined the stench was coming from a restaurant. It was only noticeable while near the restaurant.

I too LOVE that first glimpse of the Grand Canal upon departing the train station. Magical.

Lines are there because that's what people have heard about and (for some) the only thing they know about the city. Learn more about the places you visit so they are no merely boxes you checked off on a list. THIS is how you end up with more unfinished business when you leave than what you had when you arrived.

Something about the city draws me back. If all goes as planned, I will have MORE unfinished business after a special trip there in 2020.

Posted by
174 posts

I have visited a couple of cities more than once. Tokyo, Japan about a dozen times and London 3 times, and thoroughly enjoy my repeat visits. Somehow, because of the huge crowds everywhere, the Disneyland like vibe, and the fact that we wasted a lot of time trying to figure out directions when GPS wouldn't work in the narrow alleys, didn't make a good case for us to visit Venice again. Maybe I would feel differently if I spent two weeks in Venice without a sightseeing agenda.

Posted by
1185 posts

Serious question--what is meant when saying some place is like Disneyland? I was born and raised in Anaheim, still live in Orange County, and have been to Disneyland more times than I can count. Never in my travels have I thought any place I went was like Disneyland. Does it mean a place is crowded, with long lines? That the buildings are just false facades? That a place exists only for entertainment? Inquiring minds want to know! :-)

Posted by
1223 posts

I think the Disney reference is about impermanence and facadism.
Disney might have a five hundred year old palazzo, but it may have been built last year. If the crowds get sick of it, they will demolish it and build a four hundred old year old sailing ship.

Venice has a five hundred year old palazzo, built five hundred years ago. If the crowds get sick of it, they will just close the doors for maybe fifty years, maybe five hundred years.

Posted by
11273 posts

As to favorite time of year, winter is my favorite, especially early Dec. We like to go about Dec 8 when the lights go on (Christmas season starts with the Immacolata) but be gone before the Christmas holiday crowds descend. We have mostly experienced cold, clear weather. I hate the summer crowds so we don’t go then.

As to what to do: Simply long, long walks to explore neighborhoods, ride the vaporetto to the islands, find new-to-us restaurants, and just be there! Sure, we pop into churches and seek out museums and art installations we’ve not seen before. The Natural History Museum was renovated a few years ago and is a real gem. Last fall we were there for the Biennale and enjoyed a lot of unique works and seeing the site of the famous exhibition. The book “24 Great Walks in Venice” has led us to less-visited corners but sometimes we just head out, pick a direction, and see what happens.

Posted by
2461 posts

I have only been once to Venice and it rained for 2 days and nights during an Aqua Alta weather event. We made the best of our time, still went to the Basilica of St. Mark’s and walked on the makeshift planks to stay above the rising waters. Took pictures of the lines of people on the planks with their colorful umbrellas and makeshift rain boots. Very interesting but seeing Venice in the sunlight or at least not pouring rain is a dream! Would like to take a gondola ride, not possible this time. But we did see many of the top sights. Wandering and getting lost was not a goal this time. But, one day, I will return!

Posted by
7202 posts

Venice never stops being enchanting! My husband agreed that I could take a solo trip to Italy this year...as long as I didn’t go to Venice without him. Ahh, there’s no other place like it.

Other things we have enjoyed besides those already mentioned: attending an opera at La Fenice and taking the small group Clock Tower Tour. Our main focus in the morning is usually just exploring and purposely getting lost to stop for lunch and then find our way back.

Posted by
228 posts

We visited Venice for the first time recently - three nights at the end of our one-month tour through Switzerland and Austria. We only included it because we would be driving more or less past it on our way back to Malpensa and thought, "Might as well."

We had an absolutely wonderful time for the whole month and, as we always do, have spent the weeks since reminiscing. The same places always come up over morning coffee - the highlights of course.

Surprisingly for us, Venice features highly, not just in general, but one particular 1hr experience. No, it wasn't a gondola ride, nor gaping at magnificent buildings; it was breakfast in a tiny coffee shop, off the tourist route. We just had coffee and a croissant, sat in the window watched people walk by. The proprietor, staff and customers (all locals we think) were friendly and cheerful. The coffee and croissants were to die for (and just 5 euro for two of each!). We had been walking since 6am and 'done San Marco'. We just sipped, and chilled. It was one of those moments, you know?

For something so 'ordinary' to stand out in a month-long tour of magnificent mountains, picture postcard valleys and idyllic piazzas is unexpected, but telling.

So yes, count us among the many who say one visit isn't enough. We WILL go back.

Posted by
192 posts

We have been to Venice twice, that would be 10 times too few. enjoyed every minute, stayed about 2 blocks from San Marco one time and then near the arsenal the 2nd time, both unique. Can not wait to go back. We were there the 2nd time in late Oct they had a day when there was flooding in the square , very interesting to see the water come up thru the slates in the pavement in the square, and how they handled it, another great experience. Happy travels

Posted by
403 posts

In response to the request for book titles, here are some novels set in Venice:

  1. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (made it to the top of the NYTimes list) one of my favourites
  2. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James (quite dark...just a word of warning)

more can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4253.Books_Set_in_Venice

Donna Leon's books have already been mentioned in a previous post. Having lived in Venice many years, she seems to have learned much about the Venetian psyche and does an excellent job of expressing the attitudes of a "real" Venetian through her main character, Brunetti.
Happy reading!

Posted by
1223 posts

Andy asked the question, “ What does one do on repeat visits, especially when you are there for several days?”. I’m really not sure, and we do seem to enjoy ourselves. We have stayed in Venice now eight times, totalling about eleven months. Our first visit was for six nights, the next was for two months. Venice really tugged at our heart strings when we left after that first visit, and we are hooked.

On that first visit, six days in December 2006, we did most of the big ticket sights, Basilica, Ducal Palace, Accademia gallery, Rialto, Murano. So we saw a lot, but didn’t really see Venice. So the next trip was much more relaxed, it was two years later, we were much better informed, we had read a bunch of fiction and non-fiction about Venice, and we were on for exploration. We discovered small galleries, workshops, crazy sights, visited supermarkets and butchers, re-visited the Accademia and Ca’ Rezzonico and walked all over the place. When you have the time to stop and look for a while, everything changes. So you watch the fire brigade pumping out a sunken boat, or guys pouring concrete, pulling up pavement, delivering a piano.

The other thing of course is that Venice is not static, it does not exist in a 500 or 1000 year old time warp. Exhibitions change, places get demolished or built. And so we have some favourite places that we would visit each time. The Tri Oci gallery on Giudecca, which bis about photography. The Palazzo Fortuny, where interesting art is displayed amongst the furnishings that made the place home to clan Fortuny. Maybe the Hospital Library, where we saw a display of dental implant technology (pretty gory, that).

Sometimes it is just a picnic on Certosa.

So Venice now is a bit like a holiday home. If somebody has a cottage on a lake and spends weeks there over summer, nobody asks “what does one do on repeat visits?”. They just do the lake thing. And we just do the Venice thing, like it is a cottage by a lake. Except the cottage is a thousand years old, and the lake is the Venetian lagoon.

Posted by
336 posts

@peter s aus,
Wow, great post and great comparison with lake and cottage. So true.

Posted by
3206 posts

Well, this post has made me think perhaps I should add Venice to my list, if down near the bottom.

I went to Venice in January 1976. It was the coldest, darkest place I have ever been. (Keep in mind I used to be a skier and have lived in New England my entire life, so far; so cold is really cold.) It was filthy with garbage floating in the canals. The buildings were dark and dingy. No central heating in museums or our hotel. It does, however, have my favorite church exterior: Santa Maria Della Salute.

Still, it's just not calling me back. On the other hand, I have returned to Rome and Florence (and other parts of Italy) and Florence is one of my favorite cities and I'll go there at any opportunity. Go figure. It really is to each their own.

Posted by
4141 posts

I love this description, "When you have the time to stop and look for a while, everything changes. So you watch the fire brigade pumping out a sunken boat, or guys pouring concrete, pulling up pavement, delivering a piano."

Seeing everyday life in the places I visit is my absolute favorite thing to do when I travel. I like just being there.

In the summer of 2017, I rented an apartment in the Cannaregio, on the Fondamente Nove, overlooking the Lagoon and Cemetery Island, around the corner from I Gesuiti and Campo dei Gesuiti. It is one of those campos where kids play and adults sit on benches in the shade chatting and watching. You can see a picture of it in the linked Wikipedia article.

I walked through there to the Coop to get groceries and to go everywhere I went while in Venice. On the side opposite the church there were apartment buildings that could have been in a Giorgio de Chirico painting.

I posted a picture of the view from my living room windows on Facebook and a friend commented that she'd want to look out the window and never leave. Yeah, me too.

At 5 nights, it was my 3rd and longest visit to Venice. I don't know if I'll ever make it back, but this discussion sure makes me want to visit again for much, much longer.

Posted by
3961 posts

I am still musing about the reference to Disneyland as we were walking off the beaten path of Venice this week. On the side of a building a sign read "Venice is not Disneyland!"

This is our third time to Italy and first time to Venice. Victoria, it's not just you. Venice is truly magical. We are enjoying our week here before venturing on to the Adriatic.

Posted by
219 posts

Some of my favorite memories:

Walking through an alley and hearing the dishes being washed and then looking up to see one of the most magnificent buildings

Walking in the rain (I have to say that Paris is my favorite rainy destination though)

The stillness when one finds themselves in a lovely little corner away from the crowds

Getting lost and feeling perfectly safe and happy because I knew I could find my way back

Watching for the signs of every day life - the goods being transported by water, the ambulance, gondola traffic jams

Posted by
3940 posts

I don't think this was mentioned above, but if you have Netflix (I finally signed up a few weeks ago - it takes me forever to get on board with some things - still no smartphone tho!)...find Somebody Feed Phil and watch the second season episode about Venice. It's been 4 yrs since we've been to Venice and this episode just started the yearning all over again. He has such enthusiasm for Venice. Can't wait for our return next year!