I know I have been a bit tough on Venice in the past. I have even called it one of Italy’s most overrated destinations. It is not that I don’t think Venice is a must-see, or that it isn’t one of the most unique and enchanting places you will ever visit. It’s just that the city is incredibly crowded and touristy, overpriced, and it can be difficult to find a good meal. While I wouldn’t want to spend a week in Venice, it is perfect for a little weekend getaway, especially when your friend — who lives just off the grand canal — invites you!
Typically, I visit Venice with students, which means I do the same major sites — the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, glass blowing demonstration, the Rialto Bridge, and the Accademia — over and over again. Staying with my quasi-local friend, Sophia, however, meant that I could finally explore off the beaten path with someone who knew where to go and where to eat and drink. When Sophia asked me what I wanted to see or do, I said I just wanted to relax and wander. And wander we did, for more than 12 miles on Saturday!
We explored five of Venice’s seven neighborhoods — Dorsoduro San Polo, Santa Croce, San Marco, and Castello — in between photo, cappuccino, and prosecco stops. Dorsoduro and Castello were my favorites and definitely the most residential and less-explored areas of the city. It was so nice to just amble through Venice with no real direction, and what a difference it makes having someone who knows the island so well showing you around and sharing interesting tidbits along the way!
Sunday we headed to Burano, which I will share photos of later this week (it is so cute, it deserves it’s own post). For now, I thought I would share some of Sophia’s recommendations:
Local squares perfect for sipping prosecco or coffee while people watching:
Campo San Barnaba
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio
Neighborhoods to explore:
ai do gobbi – Calle del Forno, 3789
Antico Forno – Ruga Ravano, 973 (anticofornovenezia.com)
La Zucca – Santa Croce, 1762 (lazucca.it)
Muro Venezia Frari – Sestiere San Polo, 2604 (murovenezia.com)
Antiche Carampane – Sestiere San Polo, 1911