We are arriving in Venice mid day Saturday before RS tour starts on a Monday evening ( for April trip). Reading through the RS guidebooks it seems several sights will be closed those 2 days that won't be on the tour either. What is the best way to spend time Sunday & Monday early before tour begins?
Personally, I would just wonder the town. I have been to Venice twice. Once on a RS tour and the second time by myself. It was nice to have a guide but the second time I just walked around and honestly got lost a couple times (its an island you can't get too lost) but found some beautiful areas that I hadn't seen before.
If you need actual structure though, take the vaporetto through the city, that is about two hours, and something I don't think you will do on the tour. Go to Murano, even if the glass blowing places are closed it is still nice to see. You might be able to go to St. Marks for mass but be sure to dress the part, I am not sure if you are able to go? Walk the bridge and check out the shops in the area.
Spend your time Saturday just wandering around "getting lost" -- it's a great city to simply walk about. On Sunday one possibility (if the tour doesn't go there) is a day trip to Verona or Vicenza. With an early start and a late return you can actually do both in a day. Yes, some things will be closed, but that's the case everywhere. We've been to Murano and Burano on Sundays and have not lacked for things to do and see, although with an early start you could do them on Monday before the tour.
The Guggenheim Museum is open every day of the week but Tuesdays. If that museum is not on the Tour, that might be a lovely way to spend a few hours on Sunday or Monday. If you have any interest in the Jewish history of Venice (it's long and fascinating), ghetto-area shops, restaurants, and the Jewish Museum with its tour of four small historic synagogues are also open on Sundays and Mondays (but not Saturdays, of course).
Rick's guidebooks include a 2-page cheat sheet of opening times for the main tourist attractions in the city. Glancing over that, I see that most of the important museums and churches are open daily and a couple are closed on Tuesdays, but not Sunday or Monday. The Rialto fish market will be closed.
Buy a Chorus Pass that gives you entrance to many art filled churches in Venice. It will take you into various neighborhoods which you may miss otherwise.
I cannot recommend this concert enough...... interpreti veneziani . This link will take you to their website which will give you their concert calendar and everything you need to know!
Kathy, thanks for the link. I see there's a reduced price for seniors; is this only good for EU citizens? I know that's common in Europe.
You could go to Murano or Burano if they aren't on your tour. We spent an afternoon there and I absolutely loved it. Especially if you are interested in photography at all.
It would help to know what sights you want to see that are closed. The only sights I can think of that I would list as must-sees are the Basilica and the Doge's Palace. I would recommend the Jewish Ghetto Synagogue tour which should be available on Sun and Mon, since it's closed on Sat. The best parts of Venice are those that aren't ticketed . . . the Mon am Rialto Market, the back canals . . . .
If you want to see the San Marco Basilica without a horde of tourists, go to the Sunday morning mass. The service I attended was about 45 minutes. I enjoyed the service, gawked at he beautiful interior as I sat and then was able to wander and take photos in a relatively empty space before the tourists were allowed in.
Bonus: a group of pilgrims sang at the alter after the service.
I found Burano to be pleasant.
You could also take a boat ride on the grand canal...get lost walking (you will do this involuntarily anyway).
I vote too for the Veneziani Intrepreti concert. Also the Musica a Palazzo was another performance treat.
I agree that the main sight in Venice is Venice, not the "turnstile attractions." Just wander and enjoy. If you want to get away from crowds, just get off the path that connects the train station, the Rialto, and St. Marks Square.
If you want something fascinating and different, go to San Michele, the cemetery island. It's also a nice respite from crowds, but be aware the graves themselves are unshaded (I used my umbrella even though it wasn't raining).
Depending on how adventurous you are, I read about kayaking through the canals. That sounded really interesting and something different to do. Just an option.
Safe and Happy Travels.
As one who has canoed and kayaked in all types of creeks, rivers, lakes and swamps for about forty years, let me just add a precautionary note. It is impossible to kayak without getting wet to some extent. Period. I would love to kayak the canals, but I'm not going to because of the uncertainty of the water quality. Yes, I could paddle something close to home and get a water born bug -- and it has happened to me. But I just don't want to risk a water born illness three thousand miles from home.
I will second, third, fourth and fifth Kathy's suggestion of a concert by Interpreti Veneziana! They performed Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and several other pieces and the beauty of the music brought me to tears. Every time I think about our time in Venice, it is that concert that is in the forefront of my memories. I recently ordered several of their CDs and listen to them in the car.
One point about the RS tour, which we took in May. It is entirely possible that your guide will change the schedule. For example, we took a gondola ride on the first night of the tour instead of the third evening. We had gone to Murano on our own, expecting to go to Burano on the tour. Murano didn't do much for us, either. So what happened? Yep, the guide took us to Burano AND Murano. Oh well.
If you might enjoy a fun evening of Italian vino, we had a great time on Alessandro's cicchetti crawl. He offers a walking tour before the bar tour, although we weren't able to do that one because of RS schedule changes. If you're interested, just send him an email with your dates, and he'll usually respond pretty quickly: http://www.schezzini.it/
If you like something off the usual route, contact Row Venice about rowing lessons. They are a mostly female historical preservation and rowing society with an interest in preserving ancient rowing traditions. They will teach you to row a reproduction of a gondola type that precedes the current gondolas and you will row on side canals as well as the main canal. It was the highlight of our most recent Venice trip.
Put down the guidebook and put on the walking shoes. Then just wander. The best site to see in Venice is......Venice.
Walking and being outside will also help with any jet lag you might experience.
If you are looking for a unique way to see Venice and the canals, check this out and tour with a local. We have it booked for our upcoming trip.
Lots more photos and reviews here: