by Lindsay Ann Cameron
In April 2017, seven University friends and I had the pleasure of visiting Venice. We were strapped-for-cash art students but no less determined to have a memorable time!
Although we did tick off many of the tourist hotspots, such as the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza san Marco, I found that it was while ‘getting lost’, i.e. exploring for the sake of exploring, that I enjoyed Venice the most. It provides a more unique experience as you will have more opportunity to see the city from the perspective of a local rather than a tourist. So if you’re visiting Venice as someone with shallow pockets but an open mind here are some reasons why you should consider getting lost in Venice:
- You can’t actually get truly lost –
The great thing about Venice is that the city is so small (you can walk from one end to the other in about an hour) that it’s very hard to actually get lost. This provides you with a great opportunity to discover the quieter parts of the city and find ‘hidden Venice’. We found that the city had a lot of hidden gems, some of our favourite discoveries were a pond filled with terrapins, street performers and picturesque side streets.
- Arts & Crafts-
Being art students, the art scene in Venice was definitely high on our list on priorities. Luckily, we didn’t even particularly have to try to get our art fix as Venice has what’s considered one of the highest concentrations of art anywhere in the world. We were fortunate enough to stumble across a number of free galleries while in pursuit of the more well-known spots..
The local craft particularly captured us. While in Venice you will see many Venetian mask shops, many of them questionably authentic but the one that stuck in our minds was a shop called Schegge Arts & Crafts, just off the beaten path in Castello. The shop is run by the gregarious Victor and his daughter Angela and every mask you see is hand painted by the family. Each mask is a truly unique piece, and you can even have one painted to your specification. So if you’re willing to spend a little more on a truly Venetian mask, stop by Schegge Arts & Crafts.
My favourite cuisine has always been Italian so I couldn’t wait to try the food in Venice. I first have to mention the gelato, which is to die for and definitely not in short supply. My first dinner in Venice was at a pizza restaurant that served chips on pizza on the menu and though a tasty concept, I decided I wanted to try something that seemed more authentic Italian. A couple of friends and I went in search of restaurants away from the tourist hub and it was in these that I tasted the most interesting dishes. I’m a somewhat fussy eater so I wasn’t particularly adventurous with my food, however one thing I fell in love with was, ‘Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia’ or squid ink spaghetti. The dish did divide opinion amongst the group with its distinctive appearance and aroma but I couldn’t get enough of it. Even if you’re not a fan of seafood, like me, I recommend giving it a try- just remember to check your lips and teeth before you leave the restaurant because they will turn black…
- The Lido
This one is a bonus because it was a planned outing rather than something we stumbled upon! Visiting the lido, with its long stretch of beach and normal roads (Venice has no roads at all) feels like you’ve stepped completely out of Venice. For this reason, it might not be for everyone but my friends and I were staying for nearly a full week and so we didn’t feel too bad about venturing out of the main part of Venice for a day. The lido definitely fulfilled the itch to have a beach day and cool off in the water – you definitely don’t want to swim in the canals in Venice! You can get to the lido via a 15 minute waterbus using a Beaches Return Ticket on water bus line 14 at around 13 €. So maybe consider bringing a picnic lunch and having a day relaxing on the beach if that’s your sort of thing.
Some honourable mentions when it comes to hidden gems in Venice are the Libreria Acqua Alta, or ‘floating libray’, which is a library/ bookstore with boats throughout to protect the books from the constant flooding, and the Squero di San Trovaso, an old traditional boatyard. This is just a small list of some of the discoveries my friends and I made in Venice that helped make our trip memorable. While sightseeing is an important part of most visitor’s itineraries, the most beautiful part of Venice is the city itself, so I hope I might have inspired you to explore off the beaten track and discover even more hidden gems. [More about it here]
And you? Share with us your experience!! 🙂