We couldn’t do the job we do in tourism marketing properly if we didn’t love to travel. It’s fair to say, the Only Travel crew get about quite a bit.

And along the way, we’ve picked up all sorts of holiday hacks, as well as expertise in travel PR.

Our latest guide covers Venice, the city of canals and exceptionally expensive coffees on St Mark’s Square.

Obviously, tourists want to visit the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. But don’t miss out on the stuff the locals keep to themselves.

Antonia Furlan, proud Venetian and one of our Senior Account Executives, has these helpful words…

Gondola shmondola

Don’t ever go on gondolas! They are a tourist rip-off. You will never see a Venetian on them – I have never been on one myself. If you must go on one, bear in mind that the price should be around 70 to 100 euros per hour. Anything more than that is an actual rip-off – they realised you are a foreigner and are taking advantage of that.

More than a museum

La Biennale is an ‘art centre’ which features art, architecture, cinema, dance and music.  

Every year, roughly from May to November, they have an International Art Exhibition that follows a certain theme. Last year, they had “Viva arte viva”. This year’s exhibition’s details have yet to be disclosed.

Peggy’s Palazzo

Tourists often don’t realise that there is a Guggenheim museum in Venice. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection modern art museum is located in a palace that was her house for three decades.

Brotherhood

Scuola Grande di San Rocco and Scuola Grande di San Marco are two of the six art sodality/confraternity institutions in Venice. These institutions had a capital role in the city, especially during the Republic. It’s definitely worth seeing them – even if it’s just from the outside. They both have a museum inside that might be worth visiting if you are interested in medicine (San Marco) or art (San Rocco, which Tintoretto decorated).

Place for lace

Burano Island is an extremely picturesque island known for its lace work, which they sell everywhere on the island. It’s also very beautiful, with the buildings painted in bright colours.

The lap of luxury

Fancy some superb shopping? Head to Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Located at the foot of the Rialto Bridge across from the fish market, this gorgeous building was first constructed in 1228 and is one of Venice’s largest and most recognizable buildings. If shopping’s not your bag, it’s still worth heading there as the building has a beautiful terrace that overlooks the Grand Canal and the city.

The opulent opera house

La Fenice opera house is one of "the most famous and renowned landmarks in the history of Italian theatre" and in the history of opera as a whole. It’s a beautiful building and worth seeing. If you are into opera, it’s definitely worth getting tickets for a show.

Litterbugs

Don’t drop rubbish. The whole city is a museum, so treat it with respect. The locals will call the police on you if they spot you littering – and quite rightly too. Locals will even tip ice-cold water over litterers from first-floor windows. You have been warned.

Eating out

It’s Italy – so the food’s going to be great. And it’s Venice – so it will taste even better.

  • If the weather’s fine, dine outside at Ristorante Pane Vino e San Daniele (Campo dell’Angelo Raffaele- Venezia, Phone +39 0415237456). They have the best prosciutto in Venice.
  • For something typically Venetian, head to Osteria Oliva Nera (Salizada dei Greci 3012 – Venezia Phone +39 0415222170). This is a bit pricey but worth it!
  • Then there’s Paradiso Perduto (Fondamenta Misericordia, 2497, 30100 Venezia), which has lovely meals – fresh pasta and traditional Venetian food.

Italian tapas

Bacari are a Venetian institution. You won’t find them anywhere else in Italy! A ‘bacaro’ is the Venetian version of the Spanish tapas bars. In here, Venetians have lunch and aperitivo (or dinner, although these places are a little rustic, so it depends on your personal taste). We would have wine and/or spritz with ‘cicchetti’ (Venetian tapas).

  • Try Osteria alla Bifora (Campo Santa Margherita 2930, Venice, Phone +39 0415236119) where the wine is awesome. Cheese and different types of Italian ham are also great. It is one of my favourite places for lunch.
  • I also recommend Bacareto Da Lele (Campo dei Tolentini 183 - Santa Croce, Venice). This is a Venetian institution. The place is tiny, probably 1m by 1m. All they serve is wine, spritz and beer, together with small paninis as cicchetti. Wine is served as a typical ‘ombra’ (very small glass) for roughly 80 cents, while paninis are roughly one euro. Make sure you stop by if you walk past it
  • Rosticceria Gislon (Calle de la Bissa San Marco 5424, Campo San Bartolomeo, 30124 Venice) is another Venetian institution and it’s essentially compulsory for you to go here at some point.  It’s really close to Rialto Bridge and it gets really busy at lunchtime. A ‘rosticceria’ is essentially a delicatessen. You have to try their ‘mozzarella in carrozza’, the most typical Venetian street food. It’s a fried small sandwich with bread, mozzarella and either ham or anchovies. It’s to die for.

Getting about

Avoid water taxis unless you have to. Take vaporetti (water buses) instead. For non-Venetians, they are still quite pricey – 7 euros per ride per person, but better than what a water taxi would be. Otherwise, just walk. If you must use a water taxi or gondola, agree a price up-front.

And while every little corner of Venice is worth seeing, be wary of bars and restaurants in or around St. Mark’s Square – their prices are insane and they are known for charging foreigners more than locals.

It’s not unknown for tourists to be handed menus without prices, so ask for one with prices. And be sure to ask for an itemized bill – they have to provide a receipt by law.

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