For as long as I can remember, the world has been all “Venice! Venice! Visit Venice!” And I’ve just taken it at face value. If everyone you meet tells you that you just haaaave to visit a place, you’re inclined to believe them. So at the ripe old age of 23, I finally got around to it. For a day at least. Admittedly I wasn’t there for very long, but I think I sussed out the place enough, and that is: I’m not really convinced that Venezia lives up to the hype.
Don’t hurt me! I can explain, I swear. After a jam-packed 26 hours on the island, walking its entire length and seeing the sights, this is what I took away from my visit. As unbiased as I can possibly make it… even if my travelling companion made me contemplate throwing myself into a canal on more than one occasion.
Let’s start with a pro, I at least owe it that, Venice is super beautiful! If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy trip, Venice has you covered. I’m not sure anything can top the train pulling into the station, zooming over those crystal blue waters with the sun shining in the sky. Pictures could never do it justice. But once you’ve left the station, you’re right in the middle of the action. And in this instance, ‘the action’ is men screaming “DO YOU WANT A SELFIE STICK?” at you every three seconds. Which, despite living in a major touristy city myself, is not something I have to deal with to the extent it is in Venice.
Which brings me to my main con of the city, you really can’t imagine anyone actually living here. I may complain about tourists from time to time in Madrid, but damn Venice is something else. It’s just so damn touristy, I can’t comprehend how people can possibly go about their daily lives here. Flocks of slow moving crowds, your only form of public transportation being a boat, and the extortionate prices for even a can of Coke is enough to put me off for life. When I visit a city I want to truly get a feel of what local life is like there, but in Venice I just felt like I get was getting the same package deal as everyone else. Maybe if I had stayed there more than a day I could have discovered some of these types of places, but I don’t think I could have taken another day trapped in the tourist bubble. Maybe I should have bought one of those selfie sticks after all, if only to hit people with.
So if you’re looking for a place to experience living like a local, then Venice isn’t the one for you, but if you just want to take some pictures next to bridges, then go for it.
Speaking of the bridges, Venice is not an easily accessible city. Particularly if you have a wheelie suitcase. Stopping, pressing the handle down, picking it up, crossing the bridge, putting it down, and pulling out the handle again. About 600 times a day. KILL ME. And what’s more annoying is when people in front of you do this without moving to the side. Stop. Learn tourism etiquette, people. It’s also not really an accessible city in the sense that it totally fucks Google Maps up. I paid for an EU expansion on my sim for this trip, and it was pretty much made redundant in Venice. The city is so labyrinth-y that it can’t really tell what side of the canals you’re even stood on half the time. So my tip for Venice is to definitely invest in a good map or guide book before setting foot on the island. Because if you buy it in Venice, it will cost 3x times as much.
But however negative I’m being right now, I do still want to end on a pro, and in this case it’s the Venetian Ghetto, my absolute favourite part of the city. Historically, this was the area of Venice that Jewish people were compelled to live, but nowadays, its a quiet haven away from the bustle of the city. It’s genuinely like being in another world. You enter the neighbourhood by crossing a tiny bridge and walking through an archway before finding yourself in a little piazza. If you turn right here, you’ll discover cafés and gelato shops and eventually find the crowds again. But if you turn left and cross the river, you’ll see laundry hanging between buildings, people beating rugs out of windows, and families working on their boats. It was definitely an eyeopener for me, and I think the people who live here really lucked out with their location. If I can only recommend one spot to see in Venice, this is the one I’d pick.
Honestly, it’s been a month now and I still can’t decide if I enjoyed my time in Venice or not. I’m definitely glad I’ve visited, if only for the ability to tell those people I mentioned in the first paragraph that “actually, I’m not too fond of Venice!” I may go back in the future to give it another shot, but as of right now my heart only has room for one Italian city, and that’s Florence. Gushing blogpost coming sooner than you can say “mango gelato”.