travel cards, guide books and maps
If you visit Venice just for a weekend you may not need to take any public transport which is the vaporettos in Venice. But if you want to take a vaporett you may need a travel card. The single ticket for the vaporetto is € 6,50 and lasts for 60’! So, if you plan to use vaporettos more than once then its better to take a travel card that will save you a lot of money. We took a 24h card for 18 euros and used it many times and the day after we did everything on foot. There are also cards for 12hours (€ 16,00), 36hours (€ 23,00), 48hours (€ 28,00), 72hours (€ 33,00), 7 days travelcard (€ 50,00)
The Venice Card also includes unilimited use of ACTV public transport (bus and water services) but if you pay the € 73,00 for 3 days or € 96,00 for 7 days you also pay for the:
free admission to all of Venice's Civic Museums,
free admission to the 16 Churches of the Chorus Circuit,
free admission to the Querini Stampalia Foundation and the Jewish Museum
2 entrances per day to the city's supervised toilette&nursery points
I didn’t want to spend all day in the museums so I didn’t buy the Venice card. If you are interested in churches though there are many churches in Venice and some of them house some great pieces of art. If you plan to visit more than 2 a Chorus Pass that costs 9 euros will help you save some money as it gives you entrance to 16 churches (and lasts for a year).
From Piazzale Roma to San Marco it didn’t take more than 30 minutes and there are some yellow signs here and there that will show you the way. If you want to search some other areas though a bit out of the way you will need a good map. Your hotel will probably give you one but a Rough Guide map (indestructible and cheap) will show you in details all these small alleys, the dead ends etc that will save you when you loose your direction (you will get lost anyway, that’s the good thing in Venice). Lonely planet isn’t handy here (I don’t like its maps) and the 3D maps of EXPLORER guidebooks are nice for some main points. I noticed many bookstores here and there and all of them had a big variety of guide books in Italian and English. The most interesting one (not really a guide book) is the “The Secret Venice of Corto Maltese” that I bought the last afternoon, an ideal souvenir for me, it has some off the beathen path itineraries that forced me to return to Venice some day. Don’t forget that the most beautiful spots in Venice are for free, pic 2 shows a small canal in the night, I don’t change pictures like that with any “dead” museum
Try and get off the main...
Try and get off the main streets of the town, there are plenty of empty backstreets with equal charm and less people will make you feel the romance of the city. The main room of the house was simple and unassuming, with a long dining table, at the end of which was the desk of the patriarch of the family. It was a scene out of a movie or even my past. The man behind the desk could have been my Pop Pop (paternal grandfather) or Vito Corleone. He had the air of an old world Italian and had led a good life as evidenced by a few extra pounds, a result of a love of food and drink. He commanded respect and it was obvious he was in control of all that went on around him. Food was brought in continually and it was a room of great social importance, but it was also a place of business. I had arrived a guest that day but it seemed I was to become more. There was a matter of a business transaction to occur in Italy the next day. His son needed to go there early in the morning and it would be very useful for me to accompany him. Being an American, I could facilitate the border crossings, and could keep him company on the long drive. I had just taken an eight-hour train ride that morning essentially right from that direction and was none too fond of this new proposal but what could I say. I had been welcomed into the household as family, fed beyond full. It was proposed that to make the offer more enticing that after said business was concluded, we could go and visit Venice. I wanted to mull it over but it seemed there really was no choice here. I would be awoken at 4:00 am and we would make the long drive back through Slovenia to Italy, make the transaction before lunch at an Italian truck stop, and that head down to Venice. The border crossings were nerve wracking but perhaps more so in our minds than in any real sense. All went smoothly and on completion, we headed down to Venice. It was a glorious fall day, with blue skies and sun to warm the cool dry air. It was mid-week and off-season so there were no crowds to deal with and the cooler temperatures meant we would have none of the stench that Venice has a reputation for in the hotter summer months. We wandered the streets for a couple hours and though this was not the dream date I had envisioned, there was no denying this was the most romantic of cities. After sunset, we hoped back in the car for the long drive back, arriving sometime after eleven. It had been a tiring day but now that it was over, it had been a good one. I’d gotten to see one of the most popular of European cities for free, one I had no plans on seeing on this trip, and I’d fulfilled an obligation to a family that had taken me in. The father was happy. He had made an offer and I hadn’t refused.
Talk a stroll across the...
Talk a stroll across the bridge of sigh. Prisoners used to walk across the bridge to get to the prison. And as they take a last view of the beautiful city as they cross the bridge, they will sigh. Hence the name for the bridge- the Bridge of Sigh.
Venezia – “movie star”
If I would have to produce an atmospheric movie or write an atmospheric book, I would very much consider Venezia to play a major role or maybe THE major one. But of course, this idea is quite old and so she features in so many books and movies and TV series; sometimes just for some minutes and sometimes she is all and everywhere in the medium.
My favourite movie with Venezia is the very much surreal, mysterious and suspense thriller “Don’t look Now” (in German: Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen) of 1973 by Nicholas Roeg. This movie is based on the book by Daphne du Maurier and is about the British couple Laura and John that lost their daughter in a tragic accident and seeks distraction by renovating a church in Venezia. They meet two elderly sisters with supernatural abilities (well, only one has) and Laura tends to believe what they tell them – to vanish from the city, as something horrible will happen. The whole movie is done in brownish colours and obviously made in a Venezia before the heavy restorations (= as we see her now). So the colour and the morbid charm of the city these days plays THE important role to grab the spectator’s attraction. I did see this movie several times and of course I had to find all the key locations of the movie. It is easy, as the names used in the movie are the real ones (Danielli Hotel, chiesa San Nicolo, and the street where the final scene is done). Another famous scene for all Indy Jones lovers is the one of Last Crusade, when Indy looks where his father (sexiest man alive = Sir Sean Connery) was last seen – in what is San Barnaba in Dorsoduro.
And last but not least (as I could write for ages about all the movies and books with Venezia) is the very much famous Commissario Brunetti of Donna Leon. This is books, and by now 16 of them are available. I already recommended to read her books before or during travelling to Venezia, but this now is more for the ones who know the TV series of Commissario Brunetti. I saw all of them so far, have all on video tape and desperately wait for the new books to be transformed into the series. So I knew the locations at least in my memory and it was a lot of fun to go searching for them. I’ll tell about these in the off path section.
The word Murano nowadays suggests glass factories.
Sleepy Murano is the largest of islands in the lagoon. It lies about 1,5 km across from Venice and was inhabitated since Roman times. The word Murano nowadays suggests glass factories and glass blowing. In fact the development of this island in the Middle Ages is strictly connected with glass.
Finally we saw some glass-workers in action and that was quite fascinating! We saw the workers in several outlets along Fondamenta dei Vetra, but were told that there are also a couple on Viale Garibaldi, just look for the sign "Fornace" (furnace). Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures. Do be aware that a lot of glass-work that is being sold is expensive Chineze made.