As I use this term quite often in my writings about Venezia, I will explain it here. Remember the statistics of Venezia’s tourism. Nearly 80% of us are day visitors, coming in the morning and leaving in the evening and don’t come back. When I was wandering through Venezia, looking here and there and also taking the vaporettos, I did see so many of very strange behaving foreigners, so I decided to call them Eurodisney visitors. So who are they ? They are tourists who believe that Venezia is a museum. A gigantic museum on water, made to please their eyes. What they neglect is that this city has been erected ages before even anyone thought of their existence and was not at all built to be seen as a tourist trap or a museum city. Venezia just was lucky that it was not much bombed during the world wars (that’s what I read) and that the Venezianos love their home city very much, thus take care that it won’t be destroyed by the ravages of time, and by us tourists.
Eurodisney visitors will block almost everything, as (as described above), they cannot believe that other people actually have to go from A to B and not marvel at Eurodisney Venezia like themselves. Several times I also did observe that they must have fall from the sky onto the vaporettos, as they seem not to realise that – once a vaporetto approaches a yellow vaporetto stop (= like one where they themselves sould have boarded the vaporetto), it will stop there, let passengers get off and on the boat. They were hanging over the rail (= the one, the assistant would have to open to let others get off and on), and looked at this poor assistant as if he would be an alien. I am sure, they never got the point why he wanted them move away from the rail……
Yes, I am fully aware that I am very very much sarcastic here. I had to get it off my chest and maybe it helps the non-VTers which come from Google’s search engines, to realise that they should watch their behaviour towards the others when visiting what they believe is Eurodisney museum city Venezia.
Apart from being squeezed to death (or almost death) at the neuralgic spots in the city, this is the most important danger I really felt in Venezia. But it has nothing to do with subjects, but with our own. So often, when I was wandering around to take photos, and made some steps to my left or right, I realised that I got quite close to the water. I was constantly talking to myself “don’t fall into the canale”… haha, must have been a weird sight or sound to the passing by passengers. But be aware, it is very much easy to fall in the canale, as most of the canales are not protected by a wall or balustrade. One wrong step, and it would simply make plop – and off you are…
Another “danger” might wait for you at the end of a ramo, which is a dead end, but often ends at the water itself. It is meant for boats to stop here for dropping off people who live there, so it mostly has some steps leading into the water. But again, the high oxygen content of the lagoon’s water increases the growth of algae, so they are also growing on these stone steps. It can get hellish slippery, not only after rain – and again, one wrong step – and off you are in the water. It is a very good idea to bring good footwear (anyhow, as you will walk and walk), but make sure, the profile of your soles is of a good grip.
This is also meant as a be aware (and neither warning nor danger) before you are disappointed or even angry when it happens. As already mentioned in my pack list, bring a handbag (ladies) or one of these pouches that go around the waist, when you want to visit Basilica San Marco or its Loggia. There are big signs all over at the main entrance of Basilica San Marco (see photo), which clearly say in picture language that big bags, suitcases, trolleys and backpacks are not allowed inside the church. I was still amazed to see so many people lining up with trolleys and backpacks and watched them when they were approaching the guard. Of course he rejected to let them in, he pointed to the big sign and they had to go to leave their bags at the room in Calle S. Basso. Of course they had to queue again and were not given a shortcut entering.
The room to drop the bags is (as said) in Calle S. Basso. It is the first door at the right in this small street; unfortunately no sign at the entrance. But the door is open and you can see guards with shelves and backpacks behind them. BTW, this drop-off station opens 30 minutes before the guards let us into the basilica, so time enough before starting to queue.
I didn’t find out yet how many of these huge cruise ships are sailing through Venezia’s lagoon per week (I am still searching). What I have read though is that the emission(s) of one single big cruise ship equals the ones of 14.000 cars if driving for 24 hours. 15% of dust pollution in the city is caused by them. Now do the huge ships not only cause pollution in the air, but also pollution of the water. Moreover, they are partly responsible for causing the increased floods that beset Venezia more and more. And yes, of course, the floods themselves are a "natural" phenomenon – but they occur with higher frequency since the deep channels have been digged into the lagoon to allow ships with a deeper draught to navigate around. And yes, originally these channels have been digged for the oil tankers to navigate to Porto Maghera and the dubious production sites that poison(ed) the water with their waste. So yes, it sounds logical to take advantage and also have cruise ships navigating to the port in eastern Venezia. But by now, it is something like the sorcerer’s sigh “The spirits I have called” – the massive huge ship traffic destroys the equilibrium of the lagoon. It all is like a vicious circle, and the increasing amount of taxi boats, shipping the increasing amount of tourists around, add to it. As a result of this increasing water traffic (no matter how big the boats are), the oxygen level in the water increases tremendously, thus algae, etc, as I already explained in the trap section.
The taxi boats are also a danger to your pocket – they cost a fortune, as each and everything is charged for (luggage, waiting time, etc).
I cannot prevent anyone from boarding one of these deadly cruise ships or using a taxi boat. I only want to explain how much negative impact they give and make room for own thoughts.
If you are interested, you can read more on this British website:
Venice in peril
(Update, September 2009: website exchange, Venice in peril).
The friendly staff at our hotel had informed us that we could get a free water taxi ride to the island of Murano with a visit to a glass factory. The prospect of a free ride plus the possibility of seeing the island momentarily blinded me to the fact that all this would come at price!
The water taxi ride was wonderful ---- boarding the excellent boat just near our hotel, we passed under the Calatrava Bridge, and the Ponte della Liberta, before turning towards the island of Murano. The 20 to 30 minute boat ride on this stunningly beautiful day, along with being upon the water reminded me of my youth growing up on the Chesapeake Bay.
Arriving on the island of Murano, we were warmly greeted by an employee of the Signoretti Glass Factory and escorted into the factory area where one of the artists gave us a demonstration of glass blowing. Though interesting, I have seen many glass-blowing demonstrations before and the piece the gentleman at Signoretti was working on was not a complicated one. We were then led into the multi-level store showcasing some of Signoretti's most expensive works such as chandeliers and objets d'art. Though there were many beautiful pieces, prices for some pieces were in the tens of thousands of Euros -- not in our league at all!!
When the gentleman realized we would not be purchasing any of these expensive pieces, his demeanor changed immediately for the worse and we were finally shown a room with beautiful, though much less expensive pieces. His obvious false hospitality was very disappointing and upsetting, but nonetheless, I still felt pressured to purchase something because of the free boat ride. In the end we decided to purchase a beautiful vase, though it was still what I would call expensive, afterwhich I was glad to leave. This pressure to purchase something moreorless ruined the experience for me, on top of which we never were able to see other parts of the island. This being said, anyone who accepts the free ride to Murano from a glass factory knowing this should enjoy this visit for what it is, and if you happen to buy a beautiful piece of artwork, so much the better! I certainly did enjoy the boat rides!
We were also promised a return ride to Fondamente Nuova. We were required to wait another 45 minutes (until there were enough other customers to fill the boat) before leaving the island, and then instead of being let off at the Fundamente Nuova, the boat dropped us off at San Marco--this lead us to the unfortunate vaporetto ride back to Ferrovia.
Lesson learned! In a situation such as this, nothing is really free!
Calle San Cipriano 48 - 30141 Murano (Venice) ITALY
Believe me you set off from the door of your hotel (no not the water door) and turn into the narrow walkway...you go over a bridge and turn again and you come to a little square where there is a shop selling coffee....after you have enjoyed a rest in the 'back streets' you look at the walkways leading off the square...which way ?you wonder.
The buildings have numbers...so you know your address but here is another turn....what number now? There are many hotels....the locals cannot understand you...the rest are tourists looking for their way back.
So next time we took a map with us...it was some help....But the best way is to take a pen and paper and write down your own markers....be very exact and turn around a make the marker easy to see as you are going back.
Oh and have the name and number of your hotel with you and a map showing the location of the hotel...but it is quite a feat to have worked it out yourself
Ok you are mod...you have a GPS thing...great
I was stunned to see people playing game with matchboxes on the Accademia Bridge. It is very simple way of robbing people. The aim is to find little ball under one of three matchboxes. If one guess well – he/she will earn some money. But the most of the "winners" are in deal with game leader, just showing to the others how "easy" is to grab money. I took some poor photo of that, but such "players" are easy to recognize, and my advice is to avoid them.
I thought, I’d better place this here and clearly state that I never ever perceived Venezia as dangerous, not even at night. I felt extremely safe, wherever and whenever I went strolling around in the city. Even at night, where I would be much aware of pickpocketers or whatever in my own town or anywhere I was before (except Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) – but not so here ! Even at night, no matter at which time, me as single female traveller did not felt at any risk. Well, I don’t hang jewels around on my whole body, don’t wear miniskirts (haha, in my age and with my size, it wouldn’t be appropriate anyhow) and never left my handbag (which I don’t own) dangling over my shoulder.
Just use your common sense, as anywhere on the world.
But I am pretty sure that we all have to be thankful to Venezia’s police, who try to keep the city “clean” from rubbish elements. Plus, we have to be extra grateful to them, as they most probably do it in order to make us tourists feel safe, and less to protect the locals. Venezia just cannot dare to get into the headlines for being unsafe.
Nevertheless, subesquent, I will write some “warnings”; most of which are meant as “be aware” about things which are most probably different from your homecountry or have to do with Venezia’s position in the middle of water. Some are also meant as warnings, that have an impact on the beauty of the city herself.
Yes, and this is also serious, as it might easily happen during high peak seasons. Even in May 2007, when I was there, Ponte Rialto, Ponte Accademia and around the bridge in front of Ponte Sospiri were crammed with us tourists; well, 80% of them mostly Eurodisney visitors (I will explain the meaning of this term in the next tip).
The average Eurodisney visitor is not aware that locals actually live in Venezia and that they have to move from A to B to get to work or to do their business. Eurodisney visitors just stand and block ways, calles and bridges. Their completely blindness to the others (be it us other tourists or the locals) makes it very much dangerous to move along. Very often, they were standing there, piled up along the fondamentas, not even making room for the people that wanted to pass. I was nearly wiped away into the canales twice, when they were talking to each other with wide spreading arms, but … well, finally I deliberately bumped into them to make them aware of the existence of other persons… I am amazed that not more people end up falling into the canales, just because the Eurodisney visitors don’t realise that not everyone in Venezia mixes the city up with Eurodisney.
My suggestion ? If you can, avoid the neuralgic spots of Ponte Rialto, Ponte Accademia and the bridge in front of Ponte Sospiri during the peak times of the day, which seems to be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can’t avoid these times or if you meet them at spots where they might wipe you into the canales with their heavily moving arms, just push yourself right through the middle, and if it still seems to be difficult, use your ellbows. People like these can only learn by being pushed with the ellbows.
This is meant as a be aware (and neither warning nor danger) – be aware of this before you go to Venice and get disappointed: it is forbidden to take photos inside most of the churches. There are clear signs (= pictographs) about this at any entrance, so no one can pretend not to have seen them (not even the inhabitants of certain countries that refuse to speak any other language than their own or English). Though I don’t know what would happen if you take photos and get “caught in the act”. They might want you to delete them (and watch you while you are doing so), well that is for digital cameras.
Still, I very much misbehaved myself. I took one photo in Tintoretto’s church Madonna dell’Orto, another one in San Pietro, but this was in the little apse chapels, no one was in there, no one was looking and I didn’t use flash. And we took photos of San Marco Basilica, but from the loggia (into the church's inside) 20 minutes prior to the closing = 5 p.m.. But situations like these are not likely to happen inside of the big churches where priests or employees are present everywhere.
If you try to take a photo in a non-watched moment, make sure you will not use flash, though.
There are churches, however, where it is allowed to take photos (such as SS Giovanni e Paolo in western Castello), but then the pictograms at the entrance definitely say “without flash” (the word flash is used globally).
If you are in doubt, ask at the cash desk.
Italians love their football, just like any other football crazy nation does. And it seems that any other life can come to a standstill when football matches are going on.
On my last Sunday I went to look for chiesa S Nicolo dei Mendìcoli in the very far east of Dorsoduro. After having visited the church, I wanted to hop on the vaporetto at Santa Maria. Now this is at Canale Somenzera, which runs “north” to meet with Canal Grande at Piazzale Roma. Santa Maria is served by vaporetto 42 and 52, which would have brought me directly home to Fondamenta Nuove (or 62, which would make a stop at Piazzale Roma where I could switch into my 42/52). When I approached the station, I already saw a huge crowd of policemen and, as a true German native, had a guilty conscience (haha, this is off topic but somehow I feel that we Germans all look deep inside and search for our sins when we see policemen). Ok, so they were piling around the station and when I got closer I saw a huge kind of ferry boat where almost millions of football fans got off and got into some of the busses waiting for them. I thought, ok, the boat will eventually leave and then I can get my vaporetto. Not so – first, more of these ferry boats with football fans arrived (it must have been 6 or 7 in total), but also in between, when the vaporetto stop was empty, none of the vaporettos stopped here to let us board. And it was not only me, but over the time more than 20 other people arrived at the stop, all being locals. But as they took it with patience, I also did so, and finally, after having waited for nearly 2 hours, a No.42 vaporetto was nice enough to collect us :-)
So: better be prepared and don’t look for a boat that collects you in football game Sunday afternoons after 5 p.m. at Santa Maria. Better walk directly to Piazzale Roma or back to Zattere.
It is kind of typical in Italian tourist places that both a service charge (servizio) of 12 % and a charge for bread and cutlery (coperto) of 1 or 2 Euro is added to the bill. So keep that in mind when calculating your budget or thinking about a tip.
Apart from that the prices for drinks are often not displayed on the menus outside of the restaurant. Compared to the cheap pasta or pizza, the drinks might be relatively expensive.
Be prepared for quite some queueing if you want to visit the main attractions around Piazza San Marco. Try to arrive first thing in the morning, half an hour before the Basilica is opened. (it opens around 9h30) Avoid the afternoon during summer, when it's awfully hot! Since it's free entrance, the queue disappears actually rather quickly.
After wandering into San Marco Piazza, I'd sat down to rest my feet and was looking for something in my bag, when I was approached by a young woman with a large canvas bag who said something to me in Italian.
I explained I was English and didn't understand. She then told me (in English) that I wasn't allowed to sit there. I jumped up! I then wondered why I wasn't allowed - as there were lots of others also doing the same thing. She had moved onto the next person and was repeating her warning.
I noticed one of her colleagues, so decided to find out more.
Apparently the Mayor of Venice is troubled by the huge numbers of tourists sitting around the square and surrounding area, so he's employed this team to go around telling people that they're not allowed to sit there!! Apparently for those who refuse, there is a quick phone call to the police!
I asked why there weren't notices saying that You weren't allowed to sit in the Piazza. She said that it was against the law for notices to be put up in the Piazza!
Apparently You are only allowed to sit and eat in the public gardens.
I now remember reading a small newspaper article in one of the UK travel supplements, stating that the Mayor had employed a team to 'clean up' the Piazza especially targeting men without shirts or anyone eating or drinking.
This doesn't apply to the Piazzas cafes, where You pay dearly for your refreshments.
Perhaps he should have sorted out the pigeons who eat and s*it all over the Piazza first!
I don't know how much these policing the Piazza are paid, but it wouldn't be my idea of a holiday job - the girl I spoke to admitted that it was very stressful, with lots of annoyed people to deal with.
Presumably they're qualified first aiders too - as I'm sure there will be a few tourists keeling over in the summer heat from lack of food and drink and no where to rest!
So, you have the address you need, but... How, strange... There is no street/square indication!
Well, streets (actually mostly called "calli") or squares ("campi" unless you are in St. Mark) actually DO HAVE a name (but often not unique in Venice) and sometimes they are indicated in the address, but that is not mandatory.
A Venice address is made of Sestiere / Number (sestiere is one of the six quarters of Venice... actually SIXtiers!).
So, Castello 2557 may be all you have to find the place.
Oh, oh! This may be a problem. It's easier to win a lottery than to find your target address.
At this point (but only if you prepare your trip in advance) my tip is to visit the site www.ombra.net.
They have the best and more accurate on line maps of Venice, called veniceexplorer
from the link in the "website" section below, you just can choose the Sestiere and fill in the number. You will get a link with the name, and by clicking it a very accurate position of your address. Print it and pack it in your bag.
In the picture, an example of ombra.net maps.
There is a downloadable flash version of the entire map system, too
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