Campi, Calle and Canale, Venice
Favorite thing: The architecture all around Venice is so amazing. This beautiful palace, found in the Campo Santa Margherita, is virtually unchanged since the 1300's. Notice its deep overhanging eaves and the family crest over the entrance portal.
Visiting Venice is a challenge for the cardrivers.You need a lot of time - and the directions to follow are not that obvious.
My tip - follow touristic busses and you will get there.
Once stationed yr car on a "communale parking - take a ferry (Vaporetto)to get into the inner city.
Cost : only 5 euro - step on step off - valid for 90 minutes and you will have a first impression off the City !!
You really need to wander around the maze of back streets and narrow canals to get a feel for Venice. And by streets, I really mean sidewalks, because there are no cars in Venice - my favorite thing about this place! Just canals and sidewalks!
Spending all your time in Piazza San Marco or at the Rialto Bridge will only get you part of the experience, and often it's the loudest, most crowded part, with the most trash on the ground. Away from the piazza and the Rialto you get a completely different feeling - quieter, more Venetian, less touristy. Less grand, but more charming perhaps, with laundry hanging out of windows and boys kicking soccer balls around in the little campos.
Favorite thing: Unfortunately I didn't write down the location of the canals that we took photos of...but this dark canal caught my eye for some reason... :) The canals make fantastic photos...make sure you take lots of film or memory cards! :)
Fondest memory: Campo Santa Margherita - pretty campo in Dorsoduro area, just a few minutes walk from the Al Sole hotel. This square was enlarged back in the 1800's by filling in the canals at its southern end. Many cafes and bars here and its a pleasant spot for a chat and people watching. It becomes even more lively at night, staying open later than most other places in Venice and seeing as the water buses operate late into the night its easy to get back to base. Just a short walk from Accademia.
A must is to take vaparetto no 1 from St Mark's Square vaparetto stop in the direction of Lido, then get off and wait for the next one to arrive. You can then have prime position for taking photos/filming in the front or back of the boat and will start from the bottom of the Canal up to the top.
Boat no 82 also goes up and down the Grand Canal.
Favorite thing: Stroll along the Fondamente della Missericordia and degli Ormesini. It is behind, running parallel, to the Strada Nova but is worlds away from the tourist hustle and bustle - great place for a quiet stroll and to explore other little campo and calles off it. It has more of a local neighbourhod feel in this area and I wish we hadn't left it to the last day to discover it. There are many wine bars here alongside mexican and middle eastern restaurants - fairly popular in the evening I would image too.
Many people only think of Piazza San Marco when visiting Venice, but there is so much more. Churches around almost every corner, 'streets' that come in many different sizes - most too small for a car even if they were allowed, and the canals - these too come in many different sizes.
Fondest memory: Just walking the labyrinth of 'streets' and getting lost in it all. The streets and canals can be of several different types: Fondamente, calli, salizzzade, canali, rii, ponti, rii terra, and sottoportico - which are translate to: street along a canal, narrow street, paved road, channel, small channel, bridge, a channel covered over to make a street, and covered passageways.
The best way to discover the hidden little secrets is to just head off down a path and follow what interests your eyes. You'll eventually find a yellow sign directing you to some tourist attraction, or you may just find yourself at a dead end. If this happens, just head off in another direction, and if you find yourself at another dead end - don't worry about it, your on vacation and it's not like you've gotta be somewhere.
When I learned we were going to Venice on a surprise trip (my wife and I sometimes let each other pick out destinations and then try to keep it a secret as long as possible) I wasn't so thrilled. I'd seen pictures of the canals and I always thought they seemed more of a bothersome than charming.
All I can say is that I was very wrong. Venice is a magical town. The setting cannot be totally captured on film. I think the city must be walked to be appreciated. All the squares and deadends and all of the little bridges crossing the narrow canals. It is a labyrinth--a labyrinth with an osteria, cafe or trattoria at the end of every walkway.
OH WOW, WHERE TO START? Our favourite thing was walking through the back streets of Venezia with our trusty street map and discovering wonderful shops and completely empty alleyways and bridges.
On our way to Murano (which is very quiet but quite a sun-trap) we had to stop at Fondaco Nuove which was a really surprisingly quiet corner of Venezia. We stayed on Lido which has several cheap hotels and it's very easy to travel to the other Islands.
Everyone should go on a Gondola which usually costs approx £100 but you can go on the Gondola ferry which is much cheaper, though not as personal.
You are not allowed into the churches in shorts or other inappropriate dress.
Fondest memory: We were only there for 3 days but we already thought of Lido as 'home' and it was very sad to say goodbye to such a friendly place, especially our favourite waiter (no, he wasn't a lothario or anything like that, just a very nice man). Mostly I will miss the easy pace of life and the peacefulness, even when it's busy.
Hard to believe you are in the centre of Venice when you walk here. A quiet street, the laundry is hanging outside, the flowers in the windowsills... no one there, except for some pigeons on the rooftops.
There are beautiful old houses and history where ever you look! I think this is a part of Venice that I really loved. No book to help me what year or century a building was build, why and by whom. But looking at it would just tell me its own little part of history. I could dream of who lived here, what they used to do for a living, and maybe dream a little bit of having a house like this myself in Venice ;-)
Some of the canals are so narrow! Truly amazing! Only a small boat can get into these canals. Maybe the gondolas visit these small canals, I am not sure of that. But a good way to discover them is just to walk around in the many little streets. You'll bump into one of these little canals in no time for sure.
It's weird to think of it that there are no roads here. No cars, busses, trucks, or how about the postman? Nothing like that, everything goes by water. The canals are busy, but not only with the gondolas (like I always thought). But what you see on the canals has everything to do with normal 'every day life'. If you pay attention you can see boats that pick up the garbage, deliver mail, and bring freight or whatever you can think of.
Going on the canals is a must, the view from here are so beautiful. So don't consider taking the vaporetto as only a way to go quick from A to B, but as a way to enjoy the beauty of this city.