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Venice....Love it or Hate it? Why?


Mar 28th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Venice....Love it or Hate it? Why?

On our first trip to Italy in October, we are definitely going to spend time in Venice. After doing extensive research, it seems that Venice is a topic of controversy: people either hate it or love it. Many think it is just a big tourist trap w/ overpriced (and not so great) dining/lodging. We're going anyways...it seems very mysterious and romantic.

If you feel strongly one way or the other, please tell me why. I'm looking for some great places to eat and stay (mid range 175E or less). Thx for your help!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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How can anyone hate Venice???!! Venice is one of my favorite cities in the world--really--it's magical--like stepping back into another time and era. Every time the city comes up, my "Italian daughter" and I look at each other and sigh...."Ahhh...Venezia..."
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Hi Adventureseeker,

We heard the same debate last year when researching our fall trip to Italy. We spent two nights in Venice and absolutely loved it. Of the 10 days we spent in Venice, Montalcino (Tuscany), Orvieto and Rome, I liked Venice the most. It was beautiful, the food was incredible and I did not find it overly commercial. In fact, we found it very serene and charming. My one complaint: the prices are very high there. But I was able to overlook that negative given everything else.
We stayed at Locanda Orseolo, which I think is above your budget on high season, but I can highly recommend it.
Hope this helps!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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We had a great experience the first time we visited Venice and it's really colored my perceptions. Two girlfriends and I took the train from Florence, and it was misting when we arrived.

We stayed in Dorsoduro on the border of Santa Croce. While of course we hit San Marco and Rialto and environs, it's the tiny piazze and bridges that are Venice to me. Getting out of the tourist hordes and exploring the Jewish Ghetto--fantastic. Hanging out and mingling with grad students at the university at a tiny bar near Piazza Santa Margherita.

Another time I mistakenly timed our visit with Carnivale. Hectic to say the least, but also incredible: the costumes, the parties we could see up in the various apartments.

Rome is my favorite destination in Italy, but Venice has its own sweetness.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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Kelly 1212,

I just checked out Locando Orseolo's website and it may be worth a splurge. Having breakfast while viewing the gondolas skimming on the Orseolo canal sounds too enticing to pass up. Thx for the recommendation.
Question: did you visit any of the coastal towns (Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast) or just concentrate in the places you mentioned?

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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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I don't like Venice as much as other places in Italy, but I would never say the verb "hate" It's a wonderful place I happened to visit in August with a heat wave and high humidity. And it was absolutely crowded, you had to wait in line to cross the little bridges So that's why my vision of it it's not as good but I'm sure that in better conditions I would have enjoyed it because it's a charming place, like if the time has stopped there. What I know for sure it's that like it or not, it's a unique place that you cannot see anything similar round the world.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:01 PM
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"How can anyone hate Venice???!! "

As someone who now loves Venice, I can answer that.

The first time we visited Venice, I despised it. I hated the pigeons, the crowds, the tacky post card displays, and all I wanted to do was leave. I called it "Disneyland on Speed."

But I forgot to do something on that trip, which I did on our next trip that changed my mind about Venice...we spent the night there.

On our trip in 2001, we spent a few evenings in Venice, and I started to see the charm of it. All of a sudden, circumventing the narrow alleys and passageways was magical. The city had an aura that it did not possess on that first daytrip.

Now, I can overlook the crowds and see a Venice I did not see on my first trip (well except for those damn pigeons...pigeon crap ius still not very romantic to me). I hope we return again some day.

On our last trip, it rained extremely hard our final day, but we had a blast just walking, ducking into shops, drinking grappa and coffee to warm up, and just loving the ambiance. Outside of Paris, there are not a lot of places I can enjoy on vacation when it pours. Venice is one of them.

I don't think you can describe Venice to someone, because to everyone it is different.

By the way, we loved our hotel, La Calcina, on our last visit. Price is right and so is the location on Dorsoduro.

Walk the city. Enjoy the city. Ride on the canals. Take a too-expensive gondola ride. Savor the night. Have a sgroppino after dinner. I think you'll love it (Venice and the sgroppino)!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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Also loved Venice. Went 5 years ago and have been wanting to go back since I left. Finally getting back there in 2 weeks!

Stayed (and staying again) at La Calcina in Dorsoduro. Nothing beats their dock on the Guidecca Canal where you can have breakfast and then sip a Prosecco after a long day of walking.


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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:29 PM
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Venice is unique; it is the place of which it is often said "there is nothing like it in the world". And it's different from the rest of Italy. So it's not surprising that some people would not like Venice.

But I think Maitaitom hit it right on the nail---people who go just for a daytrip, an afternoon or so in the summertime, often end up not liking Venice. It is hot, very crowded, and difficult to see its wonders. I think one's love in Venice is generally in direct proportion to the time spent there, as well as to how much you learn about it, particularly the history, before you go. The place is truly amazing---built on millions of tree trunks pounded into the mud of the lagoon. Before our 5-day trip there in 2003, we tried to tackle John Norwich's 650+ page tome, the History of Venice. Very well written, but it takes some time. I would suggest you choose something shorter, like the Traveler's History of Venice. Or anything---just learn. A list of the literary figures who lived or spent time there reads like a "Who's Who's"---Dante, Goether, Byron, Ruskin, Henry James, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Ezra Pound. . . .

Yes, it is expensive, and maybe great food is not as easy to find as elsewhere in Italy. But who cares? It is, as you suspect, full of romance and mystery. Magical, really. October should be a great time to go---just be sure to spend some time, more than a day. Five days were not nearly enough for us. Have a wonderful time.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:35 PM
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I'm getting goosebumps reading all your posts....I want to go to Venice NOW!

Thank you all for your beautiful insight and for sharing your experiences.

Keep 'um coming....
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:37 PM
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The first two days of the first visit I did not care for it--chaos at the garage/drop off point, water taxi "barkers" looking for business, not being able to find our lodging "steps from San Marco" , crowded, hot, etc. etc. By the morning we left, on our soothing morning gondola ride, I'd gotten it and determined then and there to come back and experience it differently. We did, staying for a week at Locanda Orseolo (where I return in June and we return in September) and it was wonderful for all the reasons people give here--we walked, and walked, and walked, but away from the crowded areas and daytrippers; in addition I went to San Marco around 6 a.m. after our first night there and it was beautiful, and very serene.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:44 PM
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I neglected to mention an important aspect of the charm of Venice, for us---no cars. No traffic noise, no dodging Vespas, nothing. Just inviting passageways to wander, once you get away from the crowded San Marco area. It's the perfect walking city.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Oh yeah. Be sure to buy a cat puppet. I really don't want to be the only one!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 07:04 PM
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<< If you feel strongly one way or the other, please tell me why. >>

After countless visits to Europe, our nights at the Locanda Orseola stand out above all others.

Our stay in Venice was completely void of the sound of cars and mopeds.

Waking up to the sound of church bells, then walking through Piazza San Marco in the wee hours and having the entire square to ourselves was priceless.

I would go back in a heartbeat.

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Mar 28th, 2006, 07:21 PM
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Venice was far from my favorite and at one point I did indeed hate it. I don't now, though. It is just not my cup of tea. Perhaps someday I will return under different circumstances, but for now, it is no longer on my list of places to visit and has not moved to the "places to return to" list. I have gone into detail in other posts, but in short the people were rude (though there were exceptions), everything seemed insanely overpriced, and I just did not enjoy much about it.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:04 PM
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Love, love, love it!

1st visit: Years ago, teenager, summer, w/ my mom and one of my older brothers. Stayed near San Marco and did the tourist sites and ate at some tourisy places, but also explored out of the way squares, ate at out of the way places and roamed around at night. Smoked cigarettes and imagined I was so much cooler than I probably was. Bought a glass necklace I still have and a little watercolor that hangs now in my bathroom. Loved Venice.

2nd visit: About 4 years ago w/ now-ex husband, but Venice had nothing to do w/ that! Stayed in Canareggio (casamartini.it, just a lovely little place!) near the Jewish Ghetto. Explored different neighborhoods, ate at places our hosts recommended (fun local places I could never find again!)skipped the main sights but went to many churches and cafes. Listened to some good music, drank prosecco, ate well. Bought another glass necklace and a little watercolor that also hangs in my bathroom. Still loved Venice, even more.

3rd visit: Just last spring, w/ a couple great friends, part of a "significant" birthday trip. Stayed in Dorsoduro (Ca'Turelli B&B, book it through veniceby.com) and totally enjoyed our quiet neighborhood, shopped for glass jewelry (once again!), lit candles at every Madonna in every church we could find (hey, it can't hurt!) drank tons of prosecco, flirted shamelessly and wandered endlessly. Friends bought me the watercolor this time. Still loved Venice.

By the way, one of these friends was NOT looking forward to the Venice part of the trip but decided to come anyway (after promising not to complain). Turns out she had not liked it at all on a previous trip. This time...she loved it! Once again, staying a few nights and not day-tripping made the difference.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:27 PM
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Venice is magical in many ways. So much so that my current novel is set in Venice, in the 15th Century. It is also the place I began collecting authentic (paper mache) venetian masks. I buy from a little shop way off the beaten path.

Everytime I visit I see something new and discover more wonderful mysteries and treasures of this beautiful city.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 10:42 PM
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Hi adventureseeker ~
This thread may interest you:

Additionally, you may want to peruse the Venice section of our trip report:

We are among the “love it” travelers, a truly unique, magical and enchanting experience for which we will always be grateful.
Enjoy, enjoy! Tiff
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Mar 29th, 2006, 03:22 AM
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love, Love, LOVE Venice!

We were there for the first time last fall, and now I know what people mean when they say the've "fallen in love" with a certain place.

Yes, it was crowded with tourists, and yes, the pigeons in Piazza San Marco are a little freaky, but it is so worth visiting.

Of course everything is overpriced, but where else can you take a Gondola ride, or sit (or dance) in the square listening to the cafe orchestra? It's unlike any other city, and there are so many things you can only do in Venice. Oh, also try to catch a Vivaldi concert if you can -- the one we went to was pretty cheap and absolutely beautiful.

We stayed at the Hotel Novecento, which I believe is near San Maurizio (?? I may be way off). The room was teeny, but the whole place was gorgeous.

Enjoy your trip!
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Mar 29th, 2006, 03:53 AM
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I will try to tie my comments to the original poster's situation:

1. The people who hate Venice only visit it once, presumably. The people who love it are often return travelers.

Once you get off the Train station-Rialto-San Marco treadmill, Venice is a different city. First time visitors want to cover the big sights and never explore the byways, I will wager.

What crowds are there at San Giorgio Maggiore...or on the fondamente of Giudecca...or down the Canareggio canal...or in the totally overlooked civic museums...

Yes it is horrible to be shuffling among crowds of tourists. But there is no reason to do so -- or at least there are plenty of means of escape.

Often, however, it takes more than one visit to discover how much more there is to Venice than what the guide-books prescribe in their top 10 list.

2. We just returned from a week there (March 8-15). Off season travel is the only way to see Venice, IMO. You will be there in October and the crowds will have abated somewhat. (Dodgy weather in October, though)

3. Restaurants are over-priced -- yes, they are. So too perhaps are hotels. We solved both by renting a great apartment (in a rather unconventional location) and had the occasional meal in.

My brother and his wife were staying on Giudecca in their usual apartment, so we asked them to dine. Shopping at the local CoOp supermarket (5 doors away) we gathered together the makings of a fine meal of local ingredients:
Prosecco and white Friuli wine; an arugula-rich salad topped with seafood and salty feta cheese; pre-assembled brochettes (spiedi, in Italian) of chicken, sausage, eggplant and peperoncini; and a rich meringue torte.

You see, the picture changes entirely when you:
Go off-season,
live like a local,
avoid the crowds,
are independent of others.

Not for everyone, I admit.

By the way, our large, modernized apartment with beamed ceilings, skylights, 2 pristine bathrooms and a view of (the funky far-end of) the Grand Canal cost us 88E per night, for a 1 week rental. So how is Venice over-priced........
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