The only blog post you will need to read if you are visiting Venice. You can thank me later.

A girl’s guide to… Venice

A girl’s guide to Venice

Venice. The name alone conjures images of romance and history, uniqueness and grandeur. For centuries, poets and artists have tried to capture its beauty in their work, and even today, people are still enamoured by this Italian splendour. I too could compose many a beautiful word about the city and describe it the way every other writer does, or I could tell you the truth.

Now, I don’t want to shatter any illusions, Venice IS an exquisite and special place, but when people write about it they tend to get swept away with the romance of it all. I am here to offer some practical advice, after all, how romantic is a gondola ride when you’re swatting away mosquitoes?

Know before you go

Get a map of the city and decide whereabouts you would like to stay. Learn about the districts – if you want all the major tourist attractions on your doorstep then the San Marco district is the one for you but the best way to ensure you have your dream trip is to do a little research before you go.

What to pack

  • Pack as lightly as possible. The only ways to get around Venice are by boat or by foot. The boats aren’t going to take you to your hotel door, so be prepared, you may have to lug your suitcase for a 15 minute walk through the hot, busy streets from St Mark’s Square to your accommodation.
  • Wear sensible shoes. You will be doing A LOT of walking during your visit. A trip to Venice is no time to break in your new pair of heels, regardless of how stylish the Italians are. Gladiator sandals may have been worn by the Romans but they still managed to blister my feet (yes, they were flat as well!) so a pack of plasters and some comfortable trainers are recommended.
  • Avoid becoming a mosquito buffet. Nothing can dampen a romantic evening dining at a waterside restaurant more than becoming the main meal yourself, so make sure you pack some insect repellent. You want to return home with a glowing golden tan, not itchy red bumps.
Don't feed the pigeons!
Don’t feed the pigeons!

Sensible spending

Venice is a pricey city, so unless you are a Dolce-clad darling, you may find the following few tips useful.

  • You will see street vendors trying to sell “designer” handbags to passing tourists. Do not be tempted. As well as being fake, they are also illegal and even buying one – if caught by the police – could land you with a hefty fine. That cheap “designer” handbag wasn’t so cheap after all, was it?
  • Beware of hidden extras. So you’ve just enjoyed a pleasant meal and received the bill when you notice you have been charged for something called ‘coperto’. You didn’t order this? Well, this is the cover charge which is in addition to the service charge (the tip) that they also add onto your bill. Cover charge is basically what you pay for the privilege of sitting in their restaurant – it could be the bread that the waiter/waitress brought over that you never asked for, or it could even cover the cost of washing the table linen!! If you want to avoid nasty surprises like this then look out for restaurants which state NO COVER CHARGE.
  • Try take-away. The price of even a margarita pizza in Venice can vary alot, so one of the best ways to eat cheaply is to get take-away. As well as being cheaper there is also no cover charge involved. Another idea would be to buy some sandwiches at a supermarket or deli for lunch and find somewhere nice to sit and dine alfresco. If you do decide to dine in, then skip the expensive desserts and head to the nearest gelateria to sample some divine gelato (Italian ice cream).
  • Avoid eating at the major tourist hubs. At the time of writing, a glass of coca cola at a café in St Mark’s Square will cost you around 9 euros. Unless you have a burning desire to tick the whole dining in St Mark’s Square experience off your bucket-list then I would avoid. Head out of the square and up into one of the side streets to find more reasonably priced refreshment. And don’t even think about eating that take-away baguette on the steps of St Mark’s Square – you may get fined!
  • Carry a bottle of water with you. Sightseeing is thirsty work but you don’t need to keep buying overpriced bottles of water, simply fill up from one of the many drinking fountains dotted around the city.

Don’t forget to carry a map with you. Getting lost in Venice is part of the fun but at some point you’ll want to find yourself again!

Alfresco dining!
Alfresco dining!

If you like this, then check out my A Girl’s Guide To… series.

A girl's guide to Venice

A view from the top: Campanile di San Marco – Venice, Italy

Campanile di San Marco – Venice, Italy

Like the tourist masses, when I visit a new city I enjoy ascending a tall, famous landmark and absorbing the view. Cities are always trying to out-do each other with the world’s tallest building titles so there are plenty of these attractions on offer. So with this in mind I write my first proper travel blog post – A view from the top (just like that film where Gwyneth Paltrow plays an air hostess).

First on the list is Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy!

Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy. Read my travel series - A View From The Top.

Situated in St Mark’s Square and standing over 300ft tall, The Campanile di San Marco is one of Venice’s most well-known attractions. It offers fantastic views of the square and beyond, over the terracotta roof tops and across the lagoon to the neighbouring islands. An ideal time to visit would be as soon as it opens (9am at the time of writing), when the queues are relatively small. Costing around €8 per person, you travel up and down via elevator, ideal for those with walking difficulties. It does get a bit squashy at the top but the view is decent whichever spot you stand in.

Pros – There’s a pleasant breeze at the top which is particularly welcoming on a hot summers day in June.

Cons – Other people. The queue on the way up wasn’t too bad for us but the queue coming back down was a bit of a nuisance.

The view from the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy. Read my travel series - A View From The Top.

Surprises – There is a small shop at the top. This may not surprise some people, but given that it isn’t that spacious up there I didn’t think a tacky little tourist shop was that necessary!

Verdict – Definitely worth a look, Venice is one of the more picturesque and unique cities to view from above.

The view over St Mark's Square from the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, Italy. Read my travel series - A View From The Top.