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Venice all to yourself...no one else. It is possible. We experienced it...in June!

We had heard many bad things about Venice. Things like..."It is dirty, polluted, expensive and very over-crowded". This was not our experience. On our first morning there, a beautiful sunny morning in June, we awoke at 5am and were on the streets by 5:30am. The town was virtually empty. Occasionally we would see someone walking to work, or a guy sweeping the streets. We made our way to the Rialto Bridge. There was no one there! Amazing! Our kiss at the top of the bridge was witnessed by no one but us. Staring at the Grand Canal, we would see an occasional Vapareto float by, mostly empty. Canal traffic was light and the waters still. This is the Venice of my dreams, but it was real. I can't recommend an early morning visit high enough!

Posted by
6778 posts

At 5:30 am, you can have Manhattan to yourself too...LOL. I know, I've experienced it even though it was supposedly the city that never sleeps. In all seriousness, even busy or over-touristed cities are pretty tame at 5:30 am. But unfortunately people on vacation are unlikely to be up that early every morning. For a majority of the "awake time", the reports of crowds are still true. It's good to be adaptable though.

Posted by
489 posts

I have to say that even at 6 am you can have Paris to yourself... Love it, too.

Posted by
3901 posts

A few years ago, we were in Paris when the lunar eclipse was happening - I went out on my own around 3am to see it and walked over to the Eiffel Tower (we were less than 10 min away) - there were a few people around, probably to see the 'blood moon' as well.

But one of my fav things to do in a big city is go out at 6:30-7am - especially in Venice.

Posted by
3044 posts

And this is why it's recommended to stay in Venice proper, and not on the mainland. It's the only way to get those wonderful, quiet early morning/late night times to yourself. We experienced the same thing during our visit last October. At 6:00 am I had the bridge of sighs views all to myself. Only the occasional cart sellers setting up for the day. As the first wave (and it was literally a wave of people) of days trippers arrived, I was going the other way to enjoy my breakfast. And there are few things as romantic as strolling along side a canal late at night.

Posted by
3002 posts

Thanks for sharing all the experiences. We look forward to having "Venice to ourselves!"

Posted by
12806 posts

Ray, we've had your early-morning experiences in more cities than I can list. It is a wonderful time to be up and about, and well worth rolling out in the pre-dawn hours for. It's nice to see that some others enjoy those hours as well!

LOL, it's not too painful for us as we're up before the birds even when we're NOT on vacation. Many years in corp. America appear to have set our internal clocks for life. HA!

Posted by
6584 posts

My B&B host outside Rome so famous for his midnight tours of Rome by car. The city under lights with no people is simply breathtaking. He refuses to go into the city in the day, however.
Siena is another city best seen at night.
We once visited Venice in February. The wooden elevated sidewalks were on St. Marks Square due to high tides and it was terribly cold. No tourists were in town then.

Posted by
1033 posts

While in Paris I would enjoy leaning against the railing on either Pont Neuf or Pont Alexandre III having my fresh croissants & orange juice watching the joggers and cyclist go by along the Seine below and enjoy the city coming to life early in the morning.
1-year & 10-days before my return.

Another way to have Venice to yourself is to go to smaller sites like Frari Church and San Rocco Complex. Correr museum was near empty. We found multiple places in Venice away from Saint Mark's Square that were fun to visit.
We had an early morning experience in London once. We arrived early by airplane. We went to our B&B. Our room was not available until noon. So, we dropped off our luggage and went walking. The sidewalks were empty. We aimlessly walked to Westminster Abbey and down to Trafalgar Square. I needed a restroom, it was raining and the only thing open was McDonald's. So, our first London experience was McD's. I still laugh about that. Then, we attended Mass at Westminster Abbey. The jet-lag was getting the better of us and we nearly fell asleep during the sermon. We did better when the choir sang.

Posted by
2274 posts

Uh, oh! Didn’t anyone warn you of Venice’s famous “curse of the unseen kiss”? I wish you well, Ray, I’m sure we all do.

Posted by
296 posts

Yo Sun-Baked...London is in on our radar, maybe after Big Ben restoration. Thanx.

Posted by
296 posts

Yo Sun-Baked...London is in on our radar, maybe after Big Ben restoration. Thanx.

Posted by
296 posts

Larry...
Never heard of the curse. I guess we'll just have to go back and kiss in front of the 7000 Carnival Cruise folks.

Posted by
2949 posts

I'm more of a night owl but Venice in late March late at night is also remarkably empty, aside from the occasional guy trying to shove a rose in your hand. I'd heard the same as you but I fell in love with the city, although I could see where it would be miserable mid-afternoon in the summer.

Posted by
9863 posts

We have been in Venice 10 times and our favorite activity is early morning walks like yours, stopping for coffee & cornetto with the locals, taking dramatic sunrise photos or reveling in the mysterious fog. Glad you discovered the joys of rising early!

Posted by
43 posts

I am retired now but I have probably worked every shift than anyone can- so I am very flexible in regards to when I am up and about. When travelling I describe it as making jet lag work for you. Wide awake at five in the morning ? Get up and go. Not ready to crash at midnight? Find a good jazz or blues club. Not only will you miss the crowds, but you will find places open at those times with more character and interesting locals than you can shake a stick at.

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3 posts

My husband and I have been in St. Mark's Square when the only other person was a man with a broom. From there we went to the vegetable and fish market where they were just arriving to set up, There is nothing like being the only person there.
We came back a few hours later and there was chaos everywhere. It was time to get lost on one of the streets that weave through the city.

Posted by
1 posts

I've found that in most cities and sites the crowds are fairly tolerable even up to about 10:30 am.

Posted by
7205 posts

"It is dirty, polluted, expensive and very over-crowded" - you heard that from cruisers and daytrippers who don't know anything other than what they see in their 4 hours of "experiencing Venice". I totally agree that the best time in Venice is before and after all of the cruises and daytrippers.

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22 posts

I'm a night person, but you have convinced me to get up early this September when I'll be in Venice. Spending a week there with HomeExchange ! Thank you morning people !!!

Posted by
2791 posts

Looking forward to seeing Venice some day soon. Thanks for the tip, Ray! It just can't get too hot for me. Friends have said it was hot as heck when they visited Venice in the summer, but I would be a morning person like you, and take a nap during the middle of the day!

Posted by
296 posts

We almost nevr went to Venice. We heard it was horribly crowded, dirty, and smelly. All of those things proved false. Yes, when the cruise ships disgorge their thousnads off passengers, it's awful! But they are only in certain areas (Rialto, St Marks, etc). Two blocks off the main drag it's quiet. In early summer their is a nice coastal breeze, carrying away foul odors, and while I'd never swim in that lagoon, it is a very clean town for all the people that visit there. BTW...If you want a good laugh, check out the gondola jams...all those cruiseship daytrippers taking that "once in a lifetime" visit gondola ride. I dont know how those gondoleers do it, maneuvering those dozens of boats around the narrow loading areas. Better to do your homework, find a good restaurant, and sit back an absorb this fantastic town.

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332 posts

I arrived into Rome at about 5:00 in the morning in February of 2017. I taxied to my hotel near the Pantheon, dropped my luggage, and walked around the piazza in the early morning light. I got some of my best pictures of the Pantheon and the fountain in the piazza at that time. Wonderful memory.

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3 posts

Venice can be an absolute nightmare during the summer months. The very best way to avoid the crowds is to NOT do what the Roman's do so to speak but in the case, do what the Californians do - which is to stand up paddle your way through the canals. OK...so there at least ONE Venetian who does this and, better yet, she will take you with her (for a small fee). Eliana is her name and her website is supinvenice.com. Also, she just happens to be an expert in Venetian history so you get a huge history lesson about canals, buildings and piazzas that most tourist will never get. Interestingly enough, many of the canals that you will see during her excursions are rarely seen even by the Venetians. Why, most watercraft is simply too big to easily navigate some of these canals that are literally about 8 feet across.

in 20 total years between living and visiting Italy, this is one of the experiences that stands out the most. Here are a few pictures of me on my stand up paddle (including one on the Tiber in the center of Rome) https://www.cellularabroad.com/blog/stand-up-paddling-in-italy