Clued In Venice – The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City
Exploring Venice’s “New Prisons”/ November 2022
Here’s a helpful tip for those Clued In travelers who will be visiting the Doge’s Palace while in Venice… Palazzo Ducale as it is called is right in the main square of Piazza San Marco and offers a rare glimpse into the powerful rulers in the days of the old Republic. Along with the main palace, visitors also get to cross over the infamous Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) and actually explore the maze of original prisons and dungeons which thankfully have been steam cleaned. What it must have been like when in use with its rats, excrement, and desperate human misery defies our imagination– not to mention its former darkness, being lit only by a torch or two in each section. It’s fascinating to be there. Some of the cells are open so that you can actually go inside and get a prisoner’s perspective.
These prisons are part of the natural “self guided walk-around” but let us warn you to watch for a sign inside them that urges you on to see even more prison cells… don’t go that way! It’s an endless array of repetitious cells that will take at least twenty-plus minutes to find your way out of. Trust us, the smaller section of prison cells is quite enough and look exactly like the large expanse of these so-called new prisons. Watch for a little courtyard, open to the sky; to venture on from there is not recommended by us. Just visit the first section of prisons and be done with it. And, as a reward for your new found freedom from this frightening place, treat yourself to a frozen coffee in the palace’s café near the exit. It’s about a hundred times better than a Frappaccino!
Enjoy an opera ‘concert’ inside a 15th century palazzo – October 2022
An evening of musical entertainment awaits you just a short stroll from Piazza San Marco. Feel a world away from the tourist crowd at a performance by the local operatic group, Musica a Palazzo. These talented folks have removed the boring bits from Verdi and Rossini operas (think La Traviata and The Barber of Seville,) donned costumes, and arranged refreshment inside Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto on the Grand Canal. Their live singers and live musicians provide two-hours of hassle-free fun. And you don’t have to get dressed up if you don’t want to! We call that a win win.
Important update – September 2022
For those readers with a previous edition of Clued In Venice should note that we can no longer recommend Trattoria da Sara in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Their standards have dropped, probably from a change of owner or chef. This trattoria has been removed from all editions purchased after September 2, 2022. Happy travels, Dean & Andie
Make truly lasting memories while you’re on vacation – September 2022
There’s no better place in Europe to have your photograph taken than in Venice, it’s that simple. And for fabulous photos (that you will look amazing in) turn to a professional. It’s more affordable than you might think, and some of Europe’s most talented photographers are right here. Win win. We recommend English-speaking, Kinga Leftska. You can see her gallery here, make an inquiry right on her website, and then cherish the photos for decades to come. Just know that the result will be nothing like selfies or group shots taken by a friendly stranger!
Create authentic Venetian cuisine at a fun workshop – August 2022
Your visit to Venice will be even more special when you spend a couple of hours in a class taught by a real Venetian chef. At the Cesarina cooking school, you’ll be provided with all the ingredients and shown the techniques needed in this hands-on three-hour class. You’ll make three dishes from scratch: a starter, a main dish and a dessert, and then enjoy all of it along with beverages, wine, and coffee. This is usually a private group class which means you can easily customize it to certain foods or dietary restrictions through the email at their website. They offer many other classes and experiences as well so book it online as soon as you know your dates. All classes come with a cancellation refund. Buon appetito!
Where to have a delicious lunch on the cheap – July 2022
Yes, there are places to have an inexpensive lunch in Venice if you know where to look! One of our favorites is in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, which is just a short but gorgeous stroll over the Accademia Bridge from the San Marco area. It’s called Osteria al Squero and its caring owners turn out the freshest local panini sandwiches, cicchetti bites, and other savory goodies for you to savor for just a few euros.
Osteria al Squero’s location makes for a fun experience because it brings you over to the almost-never-visited Fondamenta Zattere boardwalk that faces the main part of Giudecca Island across the water. It’s like a different world. While you enjoy your panino, glance over at the Swiss Chalet across the way from the osteria. That’s where gondolas have been created since forever by craftsmen who were imported from the Alpine region specifically for their woodcarving skills. They obviously made themselves right at home. Note that Osteria al Squero is closed on Sundays.
What’s the address? Uhh, that’s a good question here in Venice… just type it into google maps.
Italy and the USA have removed all Covid restrictions for travelers – June 12, 2022
It’s time to plan that trip to Venice! Italy now has no Health Pass (aka Vaccination Certificate) requirement for entering restaurants and museums. In addition, all incoming travelers can enter Italy without having to follow additional entry rules. As of today, the same is true with the USA.
Visit something special that’s probably off your radar – June 2022
This month, all of our City-Extras will highlight an awesome local sight that you’ve probably never heard of. (If you have, kudos to you!) In Venice, that has to be the secret park called Parco Savorgnan. This hidden green space welcomes the public but you’d never know it by visiting. You will not see one tourist there ever. None. You may however see one or two of Venice’s pooches. Its grassy areas, benches, and tall leafy trees are a welcome relief on a hot and crowded summer weekend. You’ll find it just a stone’s throw northwest of the Santa Lucia station, near the bridge called Ponte delle Guglie. There’s even a small playground for kids. Pack up a few sandwiches and a bottle of red and relax for a spell.
A night in the piazza; Venice the old school way – May 2022
There are an assortment of evening entertainments in Venice, from lively bars, to concerts inside palazzi, and even a tiny discotheque… but none of them can hold a candle to an evening in Piazza San Marco. It’s old school of course, but that’s what makes it fabulous.
May is the start of the true café society season here, with all three quintets playing simultaneously. Sometimes they even stage a little competition with each other which is very amusing. Until midnight, white-jacketed waiters will serve your thick hot chocolate, biscotti, coffee, or cocktails on a silver tray as if you were royalty. There is simply nothing like it.
The little orchestras do take musical requests (be sure to tip!) and if take a table every night of your stay the musicians will start greeting you like a regular. So grab a credit card and get out there, and skip that terrible idea of staying in your room to sip your duty-free bottle of vodka from plastic cups.
Check out our new spring advertising campaign.
Yes, you really do deserve one. Grab a copy of our Clued In Venice interactive ebook today. It’s easy when you download the free Amazon Kindle app first so that your ebook “knows” where to go. This app enables you to actually read the book, turn the pages, connect to the live links, and even adjust font sizes to your preferences. It’s so fun! Note: If you already have this app on your smart phone (or have a Kindle device) then you’re all set.
The Biennale art exhibition is back – February 2022 update
Venice’s famed modern art festival only happens every other year and was further interrupted and scaled down by the pandemic. We are pleased to announce that it will indeed be back in full force this year, from April 23 to November 27. As usual, it will be presented at the Giardini della Biennale (a park in the eastern section of Venice.) Art lovers from all over the world will come to show their adoration to favorite artists and thrill in the discovery of new ones. Whether you are entrenched in the art world or not, don’t miss a chance to visit it. Tickets are on sale now through the official website here.
Plan ahead for the trip of a lifetime – January 2022 update
You might not think so right now, but travel will be returning in a big way and those who plan now will reap the benefits. As the pandemic fades, try to be one of the first to make a trip to Venice and enjoy it in a blissfully uncrowded way. Try making a detailed yet fluid itinerary without precise dates. Pencil in the days of the week only, noting which of your preferred sights are closed on Sundays or Mondays, etc. This will give you a basic framework on which to build your dream journey.
The more you can plan beforehand, the better it will be. At Clued In Travel Books we are big believers in having reservations at the restaurants we most desire rather than settling for our second or third choices. Dinner reservations are especially likely to fill up if not made in advance. As for the best sights, well, these must be booked ahead (due to the requirements of contactless service.) And with absolutely everyone now booking ahead, these too are more likely to sell out.
Travelers visiting our particular website probably understand this so we won’t beat a dead horse. If you are the type of traveler who likes to go somewhere with no plans or reservations in order to just see where fate takes you, we say, “Good luck and bless your heart.”
So, grab one of our travel books and peruse through it to the end. You’ll be shocked at how a city you knew nothing about is suddenly as familiar as can be. It’s almost magical.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
The folks here at Clued In Travel Books wish you and yours a wonderful and safe holiday season filled with lots of love and lots of food. If you avoid conversations about religion, politics, and mask mandates you’ll be just fine! Let’s hope we get back to some normalcy in 2022, especially in regard to travel. It’s what we live for.
All the best to all of you, Dean & Andie
Our brand new edition for 2022 is on Amazon now! – December 2021
Some things have changed in Italy, but much has stayed the same. We think it’s actually better than ever and are very happy to announce our brand new version of Clued In Venice for 2022. Use the link above to see its dedicated product page because it’s super-fun and has some new surprises. Let’s just call it the best one we’ve ever written!
Should you go to Venice in the fall? – November 2021
The short answer is absolutely! There is so much going on in November and December, (much more than in the summertime where crowds can bring this watery city to a halt.) Right now lucky travelers are enjoying Vivaldi concerts at the church of San Vidal, the La Fenice opera season in full-swing, Biennale Architectural events, installation of the Christmas markets, and the historic Feste della Salute on November 21st. The best thing might be having the incredible Scuola di San Rocco all to yourself on a weekday morning. All of these experiences are unforgettable so start packing your bags while the the airfares are still cheap. And don’t forget to arm yourself with our fall edition of Clued In Venice… we want you to enjoy your dining experiences here- not end up with tourist food!
IMPORTANT: For those “re-entering” the USA in the coming weeks- July/August 2021
If you’re a Covid vaccinated or antibodied American citizen and you go overseas, please know that you must still prove you are “virus free” in order to be allowed back into the United States. This can be done by showing proof of a negative Covid test that was taken within 48 hours of your departure flight home. If your test turns out to be positive for any reason (including test malfunction etc.) be prepared to quarantine in the country you were trying to leave until you test negative. (For some folks this might mean bringing a larger quantity of prescription medication, just in case!)
We are mentioning this because it is in effect now (July 2021) and few travelers seem to know about it. More information can be found on the government’s CDC website here. Look for the paragraph, “Before You Arrive in the United States”
Luckily, the Covid test is now quite easy to find at most pharmacies in Europe (not sure about elsewhere) but is not given for free to foreign travelers. You will have to pay for the test which currently ranges from around 29 euros to 47 euros. We hope this changes soon because it is clearly an overreach. American citizens should always be allowed to return home.
Summer Happenings / July 2021
Our favorite musicians in all of Venice are finally back and playing nightly once again after the long pandemic. When you visit Venice, you simply must go and hear them. Interpreti Veneziani is a world class group and specializes in Vivaldi works. They are usually performing at the easy-to-get-to Church of San Vidal in the San Marco sistiere. View their performance calendar here and give yourself the gift of a musical evening in La Serenissima.
Venice celebrates its 1600th birthday! Some quick history for 2021:
Yes, you read that correctly. This year marks sixteen-hundred years since Venice was founded on several mounds of sand in a large swamp off the coast of the Veneto region. Many people may not know this place is so old but it’s true. Rome fell around 395 AD and it was just a few years later that Venice was established. By 697 AD it was a Republic, and by 1093 AD it had its magnificent basilica. Reaching its richest and most powerful era in the mid-1400’s, it thrived from its unique geographic location along the spice routes.
Today it still feels like a mix between the east and the west, and not really Italian at all. But what is Italian really, other than the name of the long peninsula that has hosted four separate and unique nations, each with its own customs, styles, governments, and vernacular: Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice. It was not until recently, in 1861 to be exact, that the realms were finally united as Italia.
Celebrations of every kind will be happening to mark the occasion and will last at least until Carnevale 2022. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to visit during such an amazing time. There’s even a dedicated website for the festivities here. Italy is open and waiting; grab a Clued In Venice book and start planning. Happy Birthday Venezia!
We love Osteria La Zucca – May 2021
Today it still feels like a mix between the east and the west, and not really Italian at all. But what is Italian really, other than the name of the long peninsula that has hosted four separate and unique nations, each with its own customs, styles, governments, and vernacular: Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice. It was not until recently, in 1861 to be exact, that the realms were finally united as Italia.
Pictured above is the world’s tastiest appetizer. We state that with complete confidence and can only back it up by saying that when visiting Venice, we literally can’t wait to get to Osteria La Zucca to get us some! One could argue that it’s one of the reasons to visit Venice in the first place. What is it? It’s a savory flan made with pumpkin and then served with salty shreds of ricotta salata, toasted pumpkin seeds, and olive oil. Light, rich, and extremely flavorful, you can only find it at La Zucca.
This cozy restaurant is in the San Polo area and easily reachable on foot by visitors staying near the train station. But if you have taken the advice we offer in our Clued in Venice eBook and chosen accommodations more centrally located, then you might want to take a Vaporetto waterbus up the Grand Canal to get there. The San Stae stop is closest. From there, use your google map to find it. It sits right next to a charming little bridge. Their menu offers many unique choices, a refreshing departure from other restaurants in Venice which all serve similar, predictable dishes. It’s not a fancy place so don’t expect it, and if you prefer to eat vegetarian you will find more offerings here than anywhere else.
One more clue: Don’t be thinkin’ that you’re just gonna pop on over there to have dinner… their available reservations fill-up weeks in advance. You can only make a reservation by phone so get to it. (Don’t worry, the person on the other line will speak English.) From the US call 011-39-041-524-1570. Yes, this advice still goes for a post-pandemic visit.
We’re back! May 2021
Clued In cities all over the place are beginning to come back to life. Because of all the recent positive changes, we have just updated our travel books to be current for summer 2021. We will continue to update them as things change further. In anticipation of future travel, we welcome you back to Venice and to the world!
(Included info could potentially be affected by the pandemic)
Dreaming of Travel – April 2020
We miss you Venice, and send our prayers and best wishes to all of our wonderful friends there. Take care, and stay inside as much as possible to help with the spread of COVID-19! We hopefully we’ll be back there very soon.
Our Venice NTK – February 2020
Every so often, we like to add a Need-to-Know for our favorite cities. With a new year and new decade upon us, it’s time to point out some upcoming changes meant to save Venice. Rumors of a ban on rolling luggage have floated around for years but is not true, though hard plastic wheels (rather than quieter, inflated tire-style wheels) are very noisy and do damage to the city’s marble steps and bridges. Visitors who love this incredible place should take care and carry their baggage rather than roll it, especially if arriving early on a quiet morning. This is done out of respect for those who are inside asleep as well as for the maintenance of the architecture.
There’s another rumor that is true: that Venice will probably begin charging a fee to some visitors entering the city beginning July 1, 2020. (The COVID-19 outbreak could impact this decision, however.) If you’re thinking this new measure will deter some visitors, Venetian authorities hope you’re right. That’s precisely the point; this is their attempt at crowd control, but may bot be as worrisome as you might think. First of all, it will apply only to the so-called day-trippers, not to those coming to stay overnight. Folks with pre-reserved accommodations needn’t be concerned, and technically already pay a daily “tourist tax” charged at the places where they’re staying. Furthermore, the proposed entry fee (ranging between €3 and €10 per person depending on the week) will be set up so that it is simply included in the cost of people’s train, plane, bus, or cruise ship tickets so it’s not as if there will be a barrier where you must pay to enter. Those arriving by car may be able to pay it online or at the city’s Car Park. Either way the point is clear: Venice has recently become too crowded during the peak travel months, such as summer. As we advise in our Clued In Venice, go in the low-season! You ‘ll have the place to yourself and enjoy a completely different experience. Venice is delicate, so don’t go there to “party.”
While we’re on the topic of respecting Venice, some recent new laws prohibit swimming in canals, picnicking in public spaces, pausing too long on bridges, littering, and walking around in bathing suits. Duh.
To go or not to go, that may be your question – January 2020
[Regarding the acqua alta flooding that plagued Venice in November 2020] The sea and Venice have always been one. There’s even a ceremonial “marriage” between the two which is held every year (for the past 1020 years.) The sea has lately been more of a domineering wife rather than a submissive one. The occasional flooding is actually normal, though usually happens in a more minor way. Visitors dreaming of a trip to Venice have reason to be concerned, but in our opinion should not stay away. The flooding (when it happens) recedes in just a few hours and things go back to an eerily normal state very quickly. The good news this month is that there is little or no precipitation (always an encouragement of flooding) in the current forecasting, and it’s a fact that a major flood such as we saw in the fall may not happen again for a decade. Venice is as beautiful as ever right now and you deserve to experience it. If you’re thinking of snagging some of the super-low airfares that are being offered, do it. There is simply no other city in the world like it. And remember, its famous masked celebration of Carnival, Carnevale di Venezia, runs from February 8th and culminates on February 25, 2020. Until then travelers will have the place to themselves which can also be an amazing thing.
Where to enjoy an amazing holiday dinner – December 2019
We love having a meal with a festive menu at holiday time, and in Venice that means the lovely Grand Canal Restaurant at the Hotel Monaco. Sitting right on the Grand Canal, it has a view of the Santa Maria della Salute church and is conveniently located near Piazza San Marco. Holiday menus include Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day lunch, and even New Year’s Eve. Below is the multi-course menu for the Christmas Day lunch:
Bignolata with smoked provola cheese / Salami, Pumpkin, Foie Gras, & Calstelmagno / Ravioli filled with capon / Housemade gnocchi with melted cheese and hazelnuts / Glazed Lamb with eggplant mille-feuille / Our own Grand Canal Trifle / Caffè espresso
Attend a concert in Vivaldi’s own church – November 2019
Music lovers know all about the composer Antonio Vivaldi. As Venice’s native son, his music is everywhere here. Now you can book tickets to a concert in the same church where he was a priest and composed much of his music. It’s an evening of entertainment and history together. The professional ensemble, I Virtuosi Italiani will be performing through the New Year in the main hall of this famed church, Santa Maria della Pietà. Book tickets ahead for your preferred date here.
Halloween party-time in Venice – October 2019
Our recommendations for Venice in autumn usually include opera openings or new restaurants, but our new series of “Bored In” travel books have inspired us to go in a spookier direction this year. While the creepiest thing in Venice is probably just walking its maze of corridors late at night, there are some fun Halloween parties going on. The chic one is held at the Hilton Molino Stucky’s Skyline Rooftop Bar on Giudecca island but you’ll need to call them for tickets. There’s also a tiny disco that does its best to party hard on Halloween and it’s conveniently located right in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Check out the Piccolo Mondo Disco Club website here.
It’s the start of the social season in Venice – September 2019
There’s a lot going on in the Venetian capital so if you’re planning to visit during the fall season, snag a ticket soon to the opera at the La Fenice before they’re sold out! Whether you’re an opera fan or not, a performance in this exquisite opera house should definitely be on your bucket list, and while there are many different operas to choose from in September and October, we recommend Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. This comic opera has fantastic music (much of which is recognizable) and has a story that will appeal to everyone in your party. Grab a ticket on their website. As of this posting there are still seats available!
In addition, the annual Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica) may be winding up just about now but there will still be a bevy of international celebrities and stars hanging out around the city. Keep your eyes open; your chances of seeing a movie star or two is a definite possibility.
Hotel Flora, a Venice gem – August 2019
If you really want to feel like you’re in the Venice of the 1800’s book a room at the antique Hotel Flora located conveniently in the San Marco sistiere. We don’t want to imply that it is something leftover from the 19th century but it has been lovingly preserved since then. In style and substance (and very polite service) you won’t find a better time-travel accommodation in the whole city. And that makes is very cool. Yes it has a lovely garden courtyard and one of the best complimentary breakfasts around.
Learn about Il Redentore – July 2019
Are you going to be in Venice on July 20 or 21? If so, you picked a fabulous time to visit. The glorious Festa del Redentore or “Festival of the Redeemer,” is a Venetian-only festival that celebrates the defeat of the plague in the the 16th and 17th centuries. It is held annually around the third Sunday of July and puts the city in a very celebratory mood. For the event, a floating bridge made of boats tied together is erected from the Fondemente Zattere (in the Dorosoduro neighborhood) to Palladio’s Church of the Redeemer out on Giudecca Island. Hey it’s not everyday you can walk to the Giudecca! At night, a huge fireworks display over the lagoon caps the festivities. Photo-worthy!
How to “picnic” in Venice – June 2019
As we celebrate the art of the picnic in each of our Clued In cities, we knew Venice would pose a problem for us. There are no good places to lay down a spread in a grassy park…well, none that are convenient to get to anyway. There are a few small gardens in the city center but they have a private feel about them which is uncomfortable. The campos (small squares) have a few benches where you can sit and eat something, but they are often filled by locals and their children. Folks who have stayed at our recommended Pensione Accademia will know that it has two large private gardens for its guests to enjoy but if you’re not one of them then picnicking there is out of the question. Then it hit us: people picnic in Venice everyday but they do it standing up by a little bridge in the Castello district.
We’re talking about Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta of course, that little shop with the big flavors. People line up all day long to get a white box of steamy pasta for cheap. With their fresh basil topping flapping in the breeze, impatient customers carry their purchases off to a little square around the corner from the shop to slurp it in and satisfy that hunger for really tasty Italian food. Buon appetito! (Oh, how to get there? We’re not sure– yet we always find it. It’s not easy though. Use Google Map directions and say a little prayer.) Yes, Venice has several small green spaces but none are near this particular pasta spot.
Festivals & Events – May 2019
Three special Venetian events are happening in May: The Vogalonga, on May 24th is Venice’s largest boat race and has a 30km course which goes all from the lagoon to Murano Island and even through the Grand Canal. It’s for non-motorized craft only, including traditional Venetian boats as well as kayaks, Chinese dragon boats, and many others. Crews row their hearts out for the honor of winning. The city will also be presenting its Festival of Choirs from May 22 which is a free event right in Piazza San Marco. Finally, it’s Biennale time again and the opening day of this world famous art event is May 11th.
Where to brunch in Venice – April 2019
April and May bring sunshine and moderate temperatures to the Veneto region so why not make a celebration of it by enjoying a really delicious Saturday brunch… in Venice that means Impronta Cafe and this is why: the Venetians aren’t big on having brunch (or even a hearty breakfast) and prefer to eat light in the morning and then have a typical Italian feast for lunch. Because of this, the so-called brunch spots in the city center are almost non-existent –unless you count the fancy, overpriced dining rooms in the five-star hotels. But this relative newcomer in the Dorsoduro neighborhood boasts a casual vibe paired with food that is exquisite. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance; you will eat very well here and without having to mortgage your house. (No website/ closed Sundays/ can be found a street or two behind San Pantalon church at #3815 Dorsoduro.)
Santa Maria dei Miracoli church- March 2019
This month we’re featuring local sights that are lesser-known but which are a must-see in our very opinionated view. In Venice, that means the church of St. Mary of Miracles. Even travelers who don’t usually pop into churches need to see this one. As with most things in Venice, it comes with a pretty great story so here goes… During the early Renaissance (before this church was even in existence) a particular icon painting of the Virgin Mary was gaining great recognition as it made its way through the towns and villages of the Veneto region. Residents could not help notice that when unwell people prayed before it they would often –okay very often– experience an improvement in their health. Talk of the painting spread quickly until nearly everyone had heard of it. It was visiting Venice on the day that some poor worker fell into the Grand Canal and though he was underwater for more than thirty-minutes before he could be brought to the surface, the painting was carried forth to try and help him. No one really thought the man could be saved but after only a few minutes with the painting, he suddenly coughed up some seawater and started breathing. The man ended up making a full recovery.
After this incredible incident (of which there was even a painting made depicting the miracle) it was deemed that the icon should stay in Venice. The ruling families of the day concluded that a church would be built to honor it and helped put up the money for the late-Renaissance building we see today. It is breathtakingly made completely of multicolored marble inside and out, and remains the favorite church for local weddings. Don’t miss the unusual carvings on the interior columns which include mermaids and sea serpents. Sometimes there’s a three euro fee to enter, sometimes it’s free. Just go. Hours and details can be found in Clued In Venice. (It’s located in the area just northeast of the Rialto Bridge but is not easy to find. Ask locals as you get close and you’ll be pointed in the right direction. Google Maps can also guide you there… Oh what happened to the miraculous icon painting of the Virgin Mary? It’s still there, in the very spot designed for it, above the altar!
Carnevale in Venice – February 2019
Attending the extravagant Venice Carnevale festival is a once in a lifetime event and you may be able to still catch it this year because its date is later than anytime in recent memory, from February 16 to March 5th. Masked balls, special performances, and parades will take place right up to its culmination on Shrove Tuesday. Of course, if you intend to indulge in this decadence, you had better get on it now. Hotel rooms and costume rentals will soon become scarce, and direct flights are probably already hard to find. If you’re determined, however, fly into another major Italian city and take a train into Venice.
The Venice Carnevale will begin on February 16 and culminates on March 5. (The grand opening event will be held on Sunday, February 17.) Check out this handy website for more details: Venice Carnevale 2019
Where to shop the sales – January 2019
Like many stores in the U.S., Italy puts its best designer items on sale after the holidays. If you’re visiting Venice in January and have the urge to do some shopping (or just want to come home with one really special item) now is the time. Venice doesn’t really have “streets,” but there are passageways, and the best one for shopping is Calle Larga XXII Marzo, affectionately referred to simply as Venti-due Marzo, which runs east/west from the ornate facade of the San Moisè church. For those who are unfamiliar with Venice, this means that the best shopping can be found smack-dab in the city center, just west of the Saint Mark’s Square. This may be helpful to know even if you don’t plan on hitting the boutiques… being aware of this type of location also tells you precisely where a city’s most desirable neighborhood is. That’s usually where you’ll also find some of the best hotels, and some top-notch cocktails too.
New Year’s Eve in Venice – December 2018
For us there is nowhere more magical to herald in the New Year than Venice. The main square, Piazza San Marco, becomes a crowded area reminiscent of New York’s Times Square but without the bitter cold and strict crowd control. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll have to bundle up for The Big Party as it is called, and come early if you want to snag a good spot for the musical performances and fireworks over the lagoon. Reserve an early table at one of our recommended restaurants now. At 11:59pm, the famous bell tower will countdown to midnight with twelve strikes, sending everyone into a happy, romantic, kissing moment as the confetti pours down. Magical, and free of charge.
Update – Autumn in Venice – November 2018
If you’ll be one of the clever travelers coming to Venice before the onslaught of visitors who descend upon it for New Year’s and Carnavale then good for you. You may not have the opportunity to spend the actual holidays in La Serenissima, but you’ll get a taste of what this incredible place is really like for its local residents. Why not try for a table at the fabulous Ristorante Alle Corone or enjoy creative mixology at Il Mercante? See fabulous art without the crowds at the Accademia Gallery. All will make for great memories. And before you go we hope you’ll grab a copy of Clued In Venice. It has info not found in other guides which is exactly why it stands apart from the rest!
Update – October 2018
In the early fall, Venetians turn their nighttime attentions to opera. If you’ve never attended this type of musical performance, an evening inside the exquisite La Fenice Opera House will not fail to entertain you. This year, there’s an emphasis on the composer Rossini and tickets to his Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) can be purchased for late October through their website if you hurry. It’s a humorous romp, and many of the arias will be familiar. Just go!
The best inexpensive lunch in Venice? – September 2018
We have a new favorite lunch spot that will be featured in our upcoming 2019 edition of Clued In Venice. Here’s the info in advance:
In a charming neighborhood within the Dorsoduro section of Venice (which is quite walkable from Piazza San Marco) you’ll find one of our most admired places, the Church of San Pantalon. Readers of Clued In Venice will know all about this church, including its exquisitely painted ceiling which boasts the largest painted canvas in the world. Trust us, the Sistine Chapel has nothing on San Pantalon, as you will see for yourself when you go there. Hiding a pathway or two behind the church is Trattoria da Sara, (also known as da Silvio) and it’s our newest place to lunch. This delicious spot is open for dinner too, it’s just that we love their garden which is better admired in the sunshine. At first glance, this place looks like just another Venetian restaurant -with a “too extensive” menu trying to cater to seemingly everyone. But when the food arrives you will see and taste how special it is…and it’s not even expensive! In Venice, sometimes you just never know. Located at Calle San Pantalon 3748. No website.
Update – September Events 2018
Don’t miss the glorious Regata Storica (historic regatta) which has its roots in the 13th century because you can still enjoy it today. On September 2, 2018 at 4pm, ornate boats and the Doge’s own golden bucintoro will start the festivities. The procession boasts fabulous 16th-century costumes, and afterwards exciting boat races will take place culminating in the much-anticipated two-oar’d gondola race. You can see it all for free if you snag a spot along the edge of the Grand Canal between the University Ca’ Foscari and Palazzo Cavalli. If you really want to do things right, pay €60 for a seat on the floating awards stage by visiting VeneziaUnica.it. The official schedule of events is listed below. In addition, you can see the race participants being blessed at the base of the Santa Maria della Salute church on the Thursday prior.
4pm – Historical boats pageant
4.30pm – Twin-oared regatta of children’s boats
4.50pm – Young rowers twin-oared pupparini regatta
5.10pm – Women’s twin-oared mascarete regatta
5.30pm – Garda Lake bisse regatta
5.40pm – Six-oared Caroline regatta
6pm -International universities boat challenge
6.10pm – Twin-oared gondolini regatta
In Focus: Hotel Ala – July 2018
This summer we’re featuring some of our favorite hotels and in Venice that means Hotel Ala. Located in a central position perfect for exploring all that Venice has to offer, it is also just a short, gorgeous walk to Piazza San Marco. What more could anyone ask for? Since completing a recent expansion of the former 12th-century palazzo, there are now more rooms to choose from. But we still prefer the old-fashioned ones in the main building, with large shuttered windows that open up to a charming canal. In the afternoons, you will hear the gondoliers singing right outside. What can we say? It’s positively transporting. Excellent breakfast buffet too!
Visiting the Island of Murano – June 2018
In our very opinionated ebook Clued In Venice, we definitely encourage travelers to go farther afield than other tourists (meaning beyond the Piazza San Marco neighborhood.) Many do, and discover a whole ‘nother Venice. How about getting on a Vaporetto waterbus and leaving Venice for another island? Don’t fret, it’s easy –and should be included in your plans especially if you’re staying in Venice proper for more than a few days. Murano is the island closest to Venice (if you don’t count the cemetery island of San Michele.) The boat ride from the northern-most Cannaregio neighborhood in Venice to Murano is about fifteen minutes and is definitely part of the fun. Once there, have a delicious al fresco lunch, visit a glass factory showroom, shop, laugh, take pics, and just revel in being away from the summer crowds. Note: Take the #12 Vaporetto line from the Fondamenta Nove docks just two stops to Murano’s Faro dock. If the waterbus seems very crowded with locals, don’t worry. Most of them will getting off at the first stop in order to visit their deceased relatives on Isola di San Michele! You can also ask your hotel to arrange a private water taxi to take your entire group to Murano for free. Most will be happy to do this. Just remember that if you do not make a large purchase in one of the glass showrooms then you’ll be taking the Vaporetto back to Venice along with all the other ordinary mortals. For more tips on visiting Murano, consult our lovely ebook.
May 2018: Awaiting your upcoming trip
If you’re like us, you like to think about a European sojourn almost as much as going on one! For those dreamers and planners, we thought we’d take a moment to introduce you to our favorite live viewers, Skyline Webcams. Through their terrific website, we’ve watched everything from a lone man with a twig broom sweeping the entire piazza, to a crazy Carnivale celebration. You just never know what you’re going to see. They have several live cams in Venice (some with sound!) so check out the list and start getting excited for your own visit there. If you’re in the USA, remember that Italy is six hours ahead of the east coast and nine hours ahead of the west coast. Also note that you can view a time lapse of the past 24 hours, so fun when you’re talking about all the watercraft on the Grand Canal!
Update: April 2018
Venice’s three-day Mare Maggio festival of exhibitions and fairs celebrates the great maritime history of the city. The best part is that the event is held inside the enormous Arsenale di Venezia (the city’s arsenal) where during its heyday the workers could build a warship a day. This is very special because the Arsenale usually has limited visiting privileges and is locked up tight more often than not. This is your chance to not only get inside, but to truly enjoy some historical reenactments, vintage ships, relics of the navy and even take a tour of the lagoon on a traditional boat. Online info is limited, so if you will be in Venice in mid-May be certain to ask your hotel concierge for directions and details.
March 2018: Ticket, please.
See that red banner, the one on the right that says Museo Correr? Take note of it because it can shave an hour off your wait time at the queue for the Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace. How? Well, this seldom visited (but great) museum at the opposite end of Piazza San Marco/St. Mark’s Square has a ticket office but never a line. And when you purchase a ticket to the Correr Museum it’s also good for entry to the Doge’s Palace (and vice-versa.) This info is in our Clued In Venice but did we follow it when we stopped in Venice last week? No. Like inexperienced tourists we simply got in line to buy last minute tickets for the Doge’s Palace (mostly because we we’re chatting away and not thinking clearly.) After standing in the long queue for fifteen minutes and not moving an inch, it suddenly occurred to us: Museo Correr! We left the queue and headed over there, climbed the stairs to their ticket office and, as usual, found no line at all. With our tickets now in hand we went back to the palace and looked for the signed entrance for those who already have a ticket. Done and done. If you’re smart you’ll do the same– or at least buy your tickets online beforehand. And that’s our “Queue Clue” of the month!
The Masked Ball – a once in a lifetime experience/ January 2018
Planning a February trip to Venice? Your timing couldn’t be better, especially if you get there before February 13! The annual craziness known as Carnivale (Mardi Gras) culminates on that date this year, though it is celebrated for a good two weeks before. It must be seen to be believed, and for those lucky enough to get a ticket to one of the many masked balls, it’s an event that will not soon be forgotten. There are tours and packages that include them and many of the larger four star hotels have their own masked events too. If you intend to be in full costume, it’s best to reserve a rental ahead of time by internet or phone at one of Venice’s many costume shops dedicated to this purpose. We like Atelia Marega located at Fondamenta dell’Osmarin #4968 (in the San Polo section) but there are great ones all over town and easy to find online. They have everything you need, including wigs, shoes, masks, and the like. If your ambition is to simply run around the watery city in only masks, there are many places to buy them. They range from around 5 euros to some in the hundreds so there’s definitely a price range for everybody. Either way, this is an age-old event that should not be missed!
Announcing Clued In Venice for 2018!
Our gorgeous, new, 2018 eBook for the mind-blowing city of Venice, Italy is up and running on amazon.com So what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself some Venice, baby!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Venice, 2017!
“La Serenissima,” as Venice is called, definitely knows how to welcome visitors and does it in style during the holidays. The lovely Hotel Danieli (shown below) is all decked out and is the perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. Treat yourself to a performance at La Fenice, one of the oldest and most beautiful opera houses is the world. Head for the piazza if you want to experience the best hot cocoa of your life, and don’t miss the incredible Accademia Gallery!
Taking a cooking class in Venice/ October 2017
After you’ve exhausted the historical sights, museums, scuole, and Vivaldi concerts, why not opt for something a bit more intimate? There are several Venetian chefs offering hands-on group cooking classes in their own homes and you can be part of it. These groups usually last about three hours long and have a maximum of 6 to 8 people maximum. This means you get personal attention from the chef who will guide you along as you prepare homemade pasta and specialties of the region. Our friends at Viator (our favorite tour company) have several classes to choose from, including this new one that only costs $232 and includes ingredient shopping at the famed Rialto Market, personal instruction while you prepare dishes in the chef’s own historic building apartment, the eating of a multi-course meal, and even Venetian Prosecco to drink. We call that a very good day!
The Venice in September NtK: August 2017
We believe there’s almost nothing better than being in Venice in September. If you have plans to be there, bravo. If not, you can still book your flights and hotel if you hurry. September in La Serenissima sees a shift from zany summer tourists to a more sophisticated (but still fun-loving) crowd and boasts several special events. So here it is, your Venice in September Need-To-Know:
First, the arts extravaganza known as the Venice Biennale continues on until November so grab a vaporetto waterbus to the Castello section and check it out. It’s only held every other year so don’t miss it. Second, September 14th will mark the Venetian holy day of the Festival of the Triumph of the Cross with a procession from the Scuola Grande of San Giovanni Evangelista in the San Polo section. Next, you should definitely know about the granddaddy of all historic boat regattas, the Regata Storica, which is hands-down the most colorful Venetian display on water. It will include a very exciting team-gondola race right on the Grand Canal, as well as costumes, food, and musical events. As if all this weren’t enough, early September is also the time of the world famous International Venice Film Festival. Movie stars, starlets, and movie creators will be there on the red carpets to vie for the esteemed Leon d’Oro (Golden Lion) award for achievement.
Where to have breakfast when you don’t like what your hotel is offering: (July 2017)
Grab a quick and tasty breakfast at a bakeshop. Lucky for you there are two locations of the minimalist, understated Farini bakeshops: one at 5602 in the Castello, and one at 655 in San Polo. This is perfect for those who don’t want a sugary pastry breakfast. They don’t have a website because they are obviously too busy baking, so get out your google map and type them in. What you will get in return is a freshly baked breakfast and great Italian coffee. Squisito!
Update: Summer in Venice (June 2017)
Okay, so you’ve conquered the Biennale and now just want to enjoy an evening away from the crowds and heat. Why not head over to the Giudecca? It’s a short, non-stop ride on waterbus Vaporetto #2 from the Dorsoduro’s Zattere stop to the Giudecca’s Palanca stop. The huge Hilton Molino Stucky (shown above) has a gorgeous rooftop lounge called The Skyline. It’s view of Venice proper is nothing less than astounding. Click here for information in English.
Update: May 2017 – The Venice Biennale is here.
Planning a summer vacation in Italy? This June will mark the start of the hugely popular (and very respected) Venice Biennale Art Festival which is presented June through November on odd-numbered years only. That means you’re in luck! Make certain the gorgeous, watery city of Venice is on your itinerary. The Biennale is located on Venice’s eastern festival grounds park and features separate art pavilions sponsored by eighty countries showcasing their best contemporary artists. For 2017, the US pavilion will present a special installation by American artist Mark Bradford. For the La Biennale website, click here.
Please note that most museums, businesses, and even many restaurants will be closed on June 2nd for Festa della Repubblica , their national holiday commemorating Italy’s new unified government following WWII.
Update: April 2017 – VCE Airport Renovations are finished!
Here are some helpful tips on transfers if you are flying in to Venice: DON’T BE FOOLED by those always-sneaky Venetians…choose the level of cost that best suits your budget (below.)
Luxury Option – PRIVATE WATER TAXI DIRECT TO YOUR VENICE HOTEL: Just outside of VCE’s customs clearance area but before you exit outside the airport terminal, you’ll see a desk with a representative for Blitz Exclusive Water Taxis. You can book with them or continue on to the outdoor docks (around to the left) where there will be even more water taxis (motoscafi) to hire. You don’t need a reservation for these, but having one can snag you a discount and allow you to be prepaid on a credit card. If you do not have a pre-paid reservation, make sure you have the Euros ready. The cost is around €150 depending on whether you want the captain to take the Grand Canal on the way to your hotel. Up to four persons and 10 pieces of luggage allowed.
Budget Option 1 – AIRPORT MINIVAN TO WATER TAXI OR WATERBUS: Take a minivan by land for about 20 euros from the arrivals area of the airport to the Piazzale Roma car park, which is right on the Grand Canal. From there, you can grab your own private water taxi right to your hotel for about €125, or even opt for an affordable Vaporetto water bus. Note: Minivans can be prearranged and prepaid online and the driver will be waiting with your name on a sign outside the customs area.
Budget Option 2 – AIRPORT LAND BUS TO WATER TAXI: Take an inexpensive ACTV no.5 Ground Transportation Bus from the arrivals area of the airport to the Piazzale Roma car park on Venice’s Grand Canal. From there, you can rent your own private water taxi to your accommodation for about €125. NOTE: These public ACTV city buses can be crowded and have little space for luggage.
Budget Option 3 – AIRPORT WATERBUS TO VENICE: Take an airport Vaporetto (waterbus) from the docks outside the terminal. This is a relatively inexpensive option but can take a lot of time and is often very crowded. See Clued In Venice for details.
Cheapy-Cheap Option – AIRPORT LAND BUS TO VENICE WATERBUS: Take an inexpensive ACTV no.5 Ground Transportation Bus from the arrivals area of the airport to the Piazzale Roma car park, located right on Venice’s Grand Canal. (From there, you can buy a single water bus Vaporetto ticket for under €8, or a multi day pass of your choosing. Just look for the Vaporetto ticket booth.) And don’t forget to validate your ticket/pass before every ride at the little sensor machines located at each dock. Note: The ACTV city buses can be crowded and have very little space for luggage.
As you can see, there are many transportation options and combinations by land and sea to get you to Venice proper. Don’t worry too much about it, it’s not as complicated as it seems. Millions of people do it every year and you can too. Why would anyone choose the luxury option? Well, after a long and uncomfortable overnight flight, it may be just what you need.
Update: March 2017
Springtime is already in the air in this beautiful city and with it comes a plethora of nighttime entertainments. For serious music lovers, the choice is clear…only a concert by Venice’s own Interpreti Veneziani string ensemble will do! Their website is listed in our Clued In Venice e-guide… For opera lovers, check out an amazing multi-room, interactive opera performance inside an actual Grand Canal palazzo with the talented group Musica a Palazzo.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Clued In Travel Books team!
Update: Fall 2016
If you will be in Venice before November 27, you will be able to catch the city’s fabulous Architecture Biennale festival which is held every other year (in opposition to their International Art Exhibit.) Special talks and visual presentations highlight this architectural event. For more information visit their website.
Update: Fall 2016
Don’t miss Osteria al Squero. This adorable (and delicious) little wine bar featuring cichetti and panini bites is just the thing for a relaxing pick-me-up between sights in the lovely Dorsoduro sestiere neighborhood. Everything they serve is homemade and authentic and you can even make a lunch of it for pennies on the dollar compared to Venice’s sit-down restaurants. You’ll find it situated along the canal Rio di San Trovaso, almost to the end where the lagoon flows between the Guidecca and Venice. You will know you are getting near when you spot the Alpine-inspired Squero di San Trovaso, where Gondolas have been carved by masters for centuries.
Update: Summer 2016
Two of our favorite “small-restaurant” recommendations, Antica Besseta and Enoteca Ai Artisti, just keep getting better and better. If you want to dine at either of these, you had better reserve your table in advance. Delizioso! Their websites are conveniently listed in our 2016 Clued In Venice ebook.