Is Venice worth the trip?

Dec 11th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Is Venice worth the trip?

My husband and I are planning on going to Italy during Easter. We were going to go back in September, but I had to have some surgery, so we had to cancel our plans. We decided to re-schedule our trip during this time of the year. We have been thinking of going to Venice as we have never been there, but recently, it seems there have been some negative articles (National Geographic, various newspapers) written up on the city which has made us a little more apprehensive about traveling there. The problems which concern us are:

1. Crowds, especially cruise ship groups. Apparantly, the city is becoming like a Disneyland, very few people actually live in the city which then causes -

2. Exorbitant prices. Lodging, food, transportation are all very high.

3. Getting around. It looks like its hard to get around town - direction wise and finding a mode of transportation that's not real crowded or expensive.

4. Conditions. The canals are almost sewerlike, flooding on the Square, bathroom passes(?)

Part of me wants to go just to say I've been there, but it sounds like a lot of hassles too. My brother in law who lives in Rome has been there and is not crazy about the place either. We're thinking of going to Milan or Bologna instead. It looks like a magical place in pictures, but with all the crowds (and it may be really crowded this time of the year), is it worth it? What have your good or bad experiences been?
trivbeck is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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If you click on my name, you can bring up my trip report from 5/08. Part of it is on Venice, I think it will be helpful to you.

I love Venice, and would go back in a heartbeat, except for maybe in the summer.

gracie04 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 07:47 AM
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I agree with gracie04 we have been there 2x and would go back in a heartbeat, but also not in the summer.
Sue878 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Is it worth having children?

If you made a list of everything negative about having children, you would never have them, but they are worth it.

I have been to Venice in late spring, October, and November. None of the things you are worried about is true. though I have been lucky to avoid acqua alta.

The only people who should not go to Venice are people who like to tour with lists: Eiffel Tower (tick), Notre Dame (tick), Mona Lisa (tick). It is not a linear place.

As others have pointed out here in other posts, you will get lost in Venice. You should get lost in Venice. Less than two minutes from the Doge's palace, you can be on a passageway that looks like no tourist has ever been there.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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It's been a while since I've been to Venice - which was crowded, expensive, easy to get lost in, and subject to flooding on the square. It was also incredibly beautiful and atmospheric and intriguing. For me, Venice was definitely worth seeing, whatever her flaws. (And congratulations on recovering from your surgery!)
kja is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:27 AM
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I too would return to Venice in a heartbeat, given the chance! I've been a number of times, the last about 3 years ago, and yes, some of what you write may be true to some extent, but it's also true to some extent about Rome, Florence, Naples, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Dubrovnik, Prague, Paris, etc, etc, etc. Any gloriously special place attracts lots of other people who want to experience it too.

If you're interested, here are some photographs from Venice, to give you an idea of why I love it:

As I wrote on my photo site, "Venice is a watery enchantment crisscrossed by vaporetti cutting determined paths across the waves from island to island, gondolas silently gliding through the canals. On a clear day there is nothing better than cruising around the Lagoon, hopping off here for a walk, there for a coffee, then back on the boat, next a stop for lunch, boat some more, walk some more, gelato, and . . . well, you get the idea. If the weather is fine, pay your respects to the Adriatic from a beach on Lido. Then cross the Lagoon as the late afternoon sun sets the sky afire behind the domes and campanile of the city once known as La Serenissima."

If you do go, try to get out onto the Lagoon and visit Torcello, Burano, maybe evem Murano.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:31 AM
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Summer's a rotten time to go.

But if the alternative is never going to Venice, the whole thing's a no brainer. Not going to Venice, ever, is infinitely worse than sharing St Mark's Square with rather fewer people than you'd get on Fifth Avenue a few days before Christmas.

There's nothing on earth like it: there never has been anything like it, and there never will be anything like it.

Anyone who says "The canals are almost sewerlike" has obviously never been there. Or had a real sewer overflow on their property.

As for "its hard to get around town"...words fail me. No-one could possibly say anything so utterly inane, and frankly I can't for a moment believe anyone ever has. You'd do us all a favour if you quoted precisely what the buffoon concerned actually DID say. There are two ways of getting round: by boat or on foot. Both are glorious, boat fares compare favourably with most urban railway systems - and walking distances far shorter than in London or New York.

If you dislike other human beings, expect to be driven asround in a taxi, or go into conniptions at the slightest whiff of decaying food, though, Venice is absolutely not for you.
flanneruk is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:32 AM
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Venice has always been like this -it's just a little more so.

It's not hard to get around at all - you just use feet. The only issue is getting to/fro your hotel wth luggage and there are ultiple choices depedning on your stamina, budget, tolerance of a PIA and amount of luggage.

As with everyplace else - you just have to mae your choices. (If it weren't that great why would it be so crowded?)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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Since we don't know each other, "worth it?" questions are very hard to answer. Venice is one my favortie cities in the world, as is Paris, for example, and yet those two places are very different from each other.

Venice does survive only on tourists, so yes, prices are high, finding good food at a fair price has a better chance of success if you investigate options in advance (or, head away from the most-touristed areas). Sometimes I feel well-aware of being taken advantage of (a visciously-expensive coffee on Piazza San Marco, for example) but I smile and I don't care. It's not the coffee, it's drinking the coffee on the Piazza. I know it; they know it; they charge, and I pay.

I've heard about summer heat and crowds, and so I've never gone there in summer. My most recent visit was this past October. There was a cruise ship in port one of the days, and during the day the streets were moderately crowded, though again, only in the most-visited area of San Marco. By evening, the passengers seem to have left the city. At Easter time, I can't say.

I seek out public bathrooms all the time, and never had a problem finding one in Venice, without any sort of pass. There are hotels, restaurants, and museums. In a cafe, I've been known to buy a drink, to 'pay them' for use of the facilities. But I'd do that anywhere.

Vaporetti (water buses) are more expensive than, say, metros in other cities, and odds are you'll still have a walk from the boat stop, and that usually involves one or several bridges. Crossing a bridge means up a few (or more) steps, then down the steps. It's not possible to avoid a lot of walking, even if you take water taxis.

Why do I love Venice? Its rich history; its low-rise architecture; its churches; water, water everywhere; its early-Renaissance art; the very unlikeliness of the place. No one would have planned such a city, and yet, there it is.
It's unique.
elaine is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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After spending a week in Venice recently, I would definitely jump at the chance to go back. We experienced none of the problems you mentioned (except some crowds at the Doge's). It even rained one day and the canals were NOT a problem. They quickly put up boards for you to walk on and there was no smell.

We would shop at the markets with the locals buying fresh fruits and vegetables that just came off the boats. Get off the tourist path to find where the locals eat. One day I just followed the Gondoliers to a small fabulous place that served delicious soups and pasta.

At some of the bars they have "happy hours" with wonderful tasty treats either free or for an extremely reasonable low price.

We were two ladies(well seasoned age wise) without our husbands on a girls trips and never had a problem. In fact we ran out of time to see everything. Go (not summer though)
jrecm is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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I'm inclined to say that if you're going only to say that you've been, then no, it's not worth it.

But I agree with all of the other positive posters - Venice is a city like no other, even with all of its problems.

If you're going over Easter, I think the Acqua Alta season will be over, so you don't need to worry about flooding.

Once you get away from the hordes of people around St. Marks Square or on the high-end shopping streets, it's not so crowded. We like to stay at the end of the Cannaregio neighborhood that borders on the Castello, and get the feel of a real neighborhood. Parts of the Dorsoduro are like that, as are the outer parts of Castello. You just need to wander around.

Re modes of transportation, we just walk 90% of the time. We usually take a water taxi from the airport to our hotel, because it's a wonderful experience (but expensive), and the vaporetto from our hotel to Piazzale Roma (for either a car rental or to take a train). Venice is a wonderful city to walk in!

Yes, you'll get lost. But within two minutes, you'll come to a sign that directs you to St. Mark's or Rialto, and soon you'll be back in familiar territory.
Lexma90 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 08:57 AM
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I have no idea if it would be worth it to you. How would I? It's certainly been worth it for me the handful of times I've been there, but I'm me and you're you. "Worth it?" questions aren't answerable.

I have gotten lost every time I've been to Venice. I make it a point to get lost. It's that kind of city. Getting lost is one of the best things to do there. Crowds? I suppose so, in the middle of summer or at Carnavale, but I've never been at that time of year.

Getting around? Two feet and boats. Easy.

Expensive? Yes, I'd say it's pretty expensive. But as with anywhere, you can eat and drink for less if you use your wits. We have stayed in Dorsoduro to save on hotels, and rented an apartment outside of Padua and taken the train in and out.

Sewerlike canals? Somebody was just being bitchy, or was there on a blistering hot day in August, which you won't be. It's possible there will be aqua alta, but more probably not. Bathrooms, I can't speak to - I rarely have issues with finding a bathroom, and I can't imagine it's any harder in Venice than anywhere else.

The single most magical day of my life was Christmas Eve in Venice in a light snow. I will never forget it and am grateful to this day that I had that moment.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 11th, 2009, 09:10 AM
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Ahh, Venice!!! Been there twice. Our visit was just me and my husband. We stayed at this small hotel but great location - between Rialto Bridge and St. marks Square. We took the whole family (our 2 kids and their mates)but we couldn't find a hotel to accommodate us for only 2nights so we stayed outside Venice in Riviera del Brenta. It's definitely not the same staying outside the city. As for your question if it is worth it. DEFINITELY!!! We might go back next year enroute to Croatia.
gammy02 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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We've been to Venice several times and never encountered a sewer smell from the canals. I've heard that if they drain a section of a canal for maintenance purposes there is an odor, but not sewer. I do wonder if some people just don't know what coastal seawaters are supposed to smell like?

Crowds: Well, if you don't like crowds I guess that Ord, Nebraska is the place to spend a vacation. Really, there are crowds because Venice is a unique world treasure. Other cities have canals, but none of them are at all like Venice.

Yes, it's more expensive than other places, like Ord, Nebraska for instance. Because it is a desireable destination, there is demand for lodging and food. Plus everything that comes into the city has to be moved by hand. The majority of goods have to be barged in and then carried or trundled in hand carts as motorized vehicles are not allowed on the streets. Actually, not even bicycles are allowed. But if you get just a few blocks away from the main sights (e.g., away from P. San Marco, Rialto Bridge, etc.), prices do drop.

I wouldn't go anywhere in Italy other than the Alps in July and August if I could help it, but if I had only one chance to get there, I would visit Venice no matter the time of year.

The only thing Disneylandish about Venice is that a lot of people go there. Many, especially in the high season, are daytrippers with the peak in the daytripper herds between 10 am and 4 pm or so. So visitors staying longer than a day can visit the best known sights before the daytripper herds stampede in and then after they drag themselves out of the city. There's plenty to see and do away from the crowds.
Paul1950 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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Worth it to visit? Yes,Yes,Yes! I'd live there if I could! It is romance formed into a city. The Fodorites are so right about Venice so go and decide for yourself. I'll be surprised if you don't become like me and visit again and again. I have been to Venice more times than anywhere else overseas and I hope I go again and again and again forever. You will never tire of Venice!
KERRYAJS1 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 10:34 AM
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I absolutely love this line, "It is romance formed into a city." So perfect. My husband and I leave in just over two weeks for 8 days in Venice; we haven't been in 7 years, which is WAY too long. The most magical, wonderful, unique city in the world (and we've been to many).
artsbabe is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Venice is IMO the most exquisitely gorgeous city in the world. And a boat ride down (or up) the Grande Canale is to me the most awesome thing i've done in any European city (especially after dark when the sublimely illuminated ancient palazzos silent slip by - just spend a day if not into the many hassles yes a visit in high season entails - but if you get off the beaten path between the Pzle Roma and train station and San Marco you will find a relatively deserted Venice that is so so dreamy.
I echo artsbabe - The most magical, wondrous, unique city in the world (and i've been to zillions too.
Palenque is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 11:23 AM
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Went to Venice for the first time last year. As I dont like flying I arrived by train from Paris arriving early in the morning. I was to get a ferry from Venice to Patras.
I left the train somewhat tired after a restless night and headed for the exit.
The impact of the sight that greeted me outside the station was something I was not prepared for. A canal where a road should be, boats instead of cars, buildings I had only seen in books,etc.
That first sight of Venice was one of the magical moments in my life. To this day I can still feel the excitement of that beautiful magical moment my eyes first set sight on Venice.
crdtny is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 02:19 PM
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If there's one topic that brings out the poet in us, it's Venice! We all hope it works its magic on you, so you will see and know why we love it so unreservedly!! I'll be there again at Easter, maybe our paths will cross.

Please do let us know if you go, and how you reacted.
YvonneT is offline  
Dec 11th, 2009, 02:29 PM
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