We stepped off the water taxi, not onto the worn cobble stone streets of lore, but raised platforms sagging with tourists from far flung reaches of the globe. Underwater indeed! We were over dressed! Without the benefit of galoshes the fancier hotels supply, we were left to battle our way through the crowded back alleyways and along the cheap narrow walkways clashing with history. Luckily an unusual cold snap had also plunged the city into a snow bound mess, closing the airports and offering some respite from one of the world’s most visited destinations.
If you can wait a few hours the water usually recedes and a full walking tour can begin. The beauty of Venice is in the winding alleys, the narrow canals and the towering ancient buildings offering a direct link to history…very little imagination required!
We began our tour at Basilica San Marco (St. Marks). A Byzantine masterpiece, it is the most famous church in Venice. With 149 competitors that is saying a lot. Completed in 1096 it is well worth a visit inside. The four famous horses on the outside, taken from Constantinople, are fakes. You need to enter…and pay…to see the real ones.
If you go
When to go: Venice is busiest from the months June through September when the weather is warm. The famous Carnival is in February and like in the summer months the city gets crowded and the hotels full. If you are looking for less of an elbow to elbow experience the months of October through April are still generally fine with some mild days.
Getting there: The closets airport (4 miles away) is Marco Polo International Airport. Another option, especially for budget airlines is Venice Treviso Airport (16 miles away).
Venice occupies over 100 islands. The historic center is located 1 1/2 miles from the coast and can be reached by either car, bus, taxi or train via the Ponte della Libertá (“Bridge of Liberty”). You can also reach the area by water taxi, one runs directly from the airport.
Accommodation: Prices in Venice are more expensive then on the mainland as everything used must be delivered by barge and handcart (no cars in Venice!). For suggestions on cheap hotels in Venice try starting your search at EasyToBook.com.