Most people travelling to Venice have more or less the same couple things on their itinerary: Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge. With very little knowledge of the city, tourists are led to believe there’s not too much to see other than the typical sights showing up in everyone’s pictures.
I was lucky enough to find out from a friend about free walking tours around Europe’s most famous cities. With this advice in mind, I booked a 3-hour tour for myself and my boyfriend on our first morning in Venice. Without having to pay a single penny, we set off by foot following our guide Andrea through the smaller more hidden streets of the city.
Here’s what you need to know about this tour: you will not see San Marco. You will not see Rialto. You will learn about the history of the island, and you will learn about all the regions and communities.
Andrea showed us a few lesser known, but equally as important landmarks, and took us through several different areas. He taught us about the architecture, the culture, and what to do and avoid doing in the city. Amongst the suggestions were of course some of the tourism-crowded points, but he also told us which traps to avoid.
All in all, the advice really helped. Going farther away from San Marco and the other tourist-full areas can help you find a decently priced restaurant or bar. Keeping in mind that a colorful menu full of pictures and four different languages probably isn’t going to provide good nor affordable food, and neither is the not-very-Italian-looking restaurant host urging you to come into his restaurant. Buying a Venetian mask in Venice also requires knowledge: nobody wants an overpriced Made in China product. Ideally, you want to buy from a shop where you can actually see the artisan working on a new mask.
Venice is a tricky city, and it’s difficult to fully enjoy it because of the crowds of other travellers, and of course the many sellers and beggers. This is unavoidable due to the decreasing local population, and the 25-million tourists who flood the city every year. Luckily, future visits will be easier thanks to the information provided by Venice Free Walking Tours.
My suggestion: go to Venice for 3-4 days. Don’t expect to do and see everything, but be sure to make the best of it. Take the free tour at the beginning of your visit, and use the information provided to plan the rest of your stay. And definitely make sure to tip the volunteer who just spent three hours of his day showing you the city!
If you have more questions about Venice or this tour, you can always comment or leave a message on the Contact page.