Venice is a city in peril.
Slowly sinking from regular flooding, overcrowding from tourists and residents fleeing by the thousands, its popularity threatens to destroy its unique character and mother nature is determined to drown the rest.
Each visit Mr 77 and I see water levels higher, steps we once sat on lay submerged, St Marks Square floods regularly, the warning siren a familiar sound and many lower levels of buildings have been boarded up and abandoned as the water slowly devours the city.
According to an article published in the Guardian “Venice is a city of 54,500 residents, yet it receives up to 30 million visitors a year.”
That figure is astounding and it’s no wonder the rapidly dimishing local population are moving to the mainland.
Residents are fleeing to not only escape the rising waters and tourist crush, they are being forced out by the high cost of living on the islands and the lack of services available to them.
Ironically, a domino effect of mass tourism is the closing doors of local business. The excessive number of cruise ship and bus coach day trippers, who snap a quick selfie and grab a trinket because of limited time means the restuarants, cafes and bespoke shops do not benefit from their visit.
A city is only as vibrant as its residents. The unique small wine bars, cafes, florists, grocers, bookshops,artists and bespoke fashion stores that make a place special or interesting rely on trade from tourists and the regular locals alike.
Afterall, the beating heart of any city is the people. Without a diverse and thriving populace, a place is just bricks, mortar and chain stores. Visit any financial district in any major city on the weekend and you get the picture.
It will be a great tragedy if Venice becomes an empty (albeit beautiful) museum losing its local populace completely.
My inner optimist hopes Venice will survive. I hope it will thrive against this latest threat, afterall it has survived a long history of triumph over adversity, beating invasions and conquests but it is getting harder and harder for locals to stay. Something needs to change for Venice to continue to be viable to live in.
As a traveller, I believe we can be a part of that change with our choice of travel. I believe we all have a responsibility to tread as lightly as possible on the places we visit and to positiviely contribute to the local economy when we visit.
So if you are planning to visit Venice (and you still should), I urge you to help this beautiful city retain its soul. Stay overnight (at least) shop locally, eat at the wine bars and take the time to really enjoy the city’s beauty. Help ease the strain on this special and magical place.
Venice is a beautiful city that deserves to be explored slowly, its treasures should be savoured and it warrants more than just “a day trip” cramming in the major sites in a few hours.
Make sure you visit in non peak holiday times, visit during the week, dine at the restaurants, shop at the remaining small retailers and go to the major sites early morning or late afternoon to help ease overcrowding.
This wonderful UNESCO world heritage site needs our respect and love to remain viable, and our respect for its very survival.
A cruise ship dwarfing the canals
Have a look at my 3 days in Venice itinerary to get an idea of how you can see the major sites yet dodge some of the crowds.
For further reading on the issues facing Venice, Feargus O’Sullivan has written a great article entitled Venice Fights Back
For tours, accommodation, flights, further information, click on the links below.
Apertivo & Dining
In Venice the sky and water are a moody palette. Yellows,oranges, pale pinks, greys are reflected in the ripples of the water and mirror the surrounding houses.
You’ll often find your feet aching after the long walks. Apertivo is a great respite. It gives you a chance to people watch; locals walking their dogs, families venturing out for dinner and the hordes of tourists walking past squinting at maps or iphones.
You can often drink and eat alongside the canal, watch the post work crowd for pre dinner refreshment and enjoy a lively atmosphere.
For a full list and ratings of the most current bars, check out Tripadvisor
For the infamous white peach Bellini, you can of course visit the famed Harrys’ Bar
Other great 3 day itineraries
Children’s tours and activities in Venice
Arte al Sole – art classes and tours
How to get there
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region in northern Italy. It is a magical town made up of over 100 small islands connected by 400 bridges. Around 264,579 people call the region home. As one of the most beautiful towns in the world , make sure you stay in Venice itself so you can walk and get lost in the magic of the streets in the early or wee hours.
Plane – The Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) services the city of Venice, and welcomes flights from all over the world. Airline carriers that fly routes to this city include Alitalia, British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
The airport has a few cafes as well as currency exchange services, WiFi and ATMs.
Check out Skyscanner for great deals on flights.
Train – There are many intercity trains to Venice. Venice Santa Lucia is the main station in Venice, it is located on the banks of the Grand Canal, and is about a 30-minute walk to the major sites.
The Man in Seat 61 has the latest timetables, tips and train information in Italy.
Where to Stay
There are so many hotels to choose from in Venice it is hard to pick one.
Mr 77 and I have stayed twice at a lovely 1-star hotel called Hotel Al Vagon. The staff are welcoming and friendly and it is located only a 5-minute walk from the Rialto bridge in Cannaregio. Budget friendly, the rooms are decorated in Venetian decor, they are clean and tidy, our large double room had a comfy bed and lots of space and storage for our bags. It is a great little hotel.
We had a little balcony where we could watch life unfold on the canal and there were loads of cafes, restaurants and shops nearby and the major sites were all within walking distance too. The only downside is the upper floor where we stayed must be reached by a lot of stairs!
If you are travelling with your pooch, it is pet-friendly too.
For a full list and the latest reviews of the accommodation options in Venice, click on the links below:
Bookings.Com – Venice Accommodation
Trip Advisor Accommodation – Venice
Where to Eat
There are so many wonderful bars and places to eat, follow the crowds or check out a number of the best rated places to eat through Trip Advisor, Google and online travel forums.
Venice restaurants – trip advisor
Books set in Venice
There are over 200 novels set in Venice. Here are a few of my favourites !
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