Hands down, Venice was my favourite city of Italy. This goes against popular opinion where some seem to think it is not worthy for a lengthy visit. This couldn’t be more wrong. I wrote a guide for those looking to truly experience Venice closer to what a local would. Avoid the crowds (when you can) and experience Venice in the evenings when many tourists leave the small lagoon city. In effect, you get it all to yourself!
It seemed when I headed Northward I enjoyed the character of the people and the towns more so. The entire Veneto region was a treat and had an equally as interesting Renaissance past as Florence did. In fact, these two cities were often in artistic competition together and testy words were exchanged over their history – fighting over which city was best.
The Palazzo Ducale is perhaps Venice’s most visited gem. The San Marco Square is always littered with travelers, pick pockets and pricy cups of coffee. This is one of those unavoidable crowds you’ll have to trek through if you want to visit the Palazzo.
Despite the crowd, it is well worth taking a quick visit to the square, even if you don’t end up going in any of the historical buildings. It was, historically, a hub for locals to see and be seen. Executions, grand visits from the Pope, Carnival and other important events took place in San Marco Square. Other than that it is simply gorgeous!
Now, if you want to go inside the Palazzo Ducale there are ways to avoid the lines!
One slice of advice that I want to give, among my cake of caution, is that you purchase your tickets online and make an appointment for your party to visit (even if you are going alone). The lines are long most days and the Summer heat, or the Fall & Spring showers may overwhelm you. The same advice goes for the adjoining church of San Marco. Donate half a day or so to take a leisurely stroll through the palace and the prisons.The Palazzo Ducale, located in the San Marco Square, provides an interesting stroll through the apartments, historical rooms and its impressive works of art and architecture. In each room there is something different to observe and each fresco, mural and room tells various tales of Venice gone by.
The prison is a reason to visit in and of itself. The carvings made by prisoners long executed (or escaped in Casanova’s case) can still be seen between the bars. Walk over the ever popular Bridge of Sighs. But know that it is more interesting to take a photo of it than if you’re walking over it. Hopefully any restorations are completed during your visit so that you’ll have an unobstructed view without any hideous ads.
During my trip I had initially toured the palace with a class of 30 art history students. Due to “near” starvation another student and I grabbed some panini from across the Square. These were terrible, mainly because the Italians seem to think that tourists
like are happy to pay for microwaved prosciutto and arugula. They may be correct because my colleague seemed to order more of these soggy sheets of bread throughout our trip. It really did baffle me, but I think it was the relatively cheap cost of it that appealed to the majority of students. As a self proclaimed foodie, I tried to follow my own motto as much as I could: Never sacrifice the integrity of your taste buds. You wouldn’t think my motto would be difficult to uphold, especially when you’re in Italy.
But I promise you, good food does exist in Venice!