Question, why are so many Italian city names anglicized? Milan (Milano), Venice (Venezia), Florence (Firenze), Rome (Roma), but other city names around the world have been de-anglicized. Beijing (Peking), Mumbai (Bombay), Sri Lanka (Ceylon). I know there are many examples of other anglicized names besides in Italy such as Munich (München), but why is it so prevalent in Italy?
The whole city of Venice and the surrounding lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so they are not allowed to construct any new buildings. Interiors are updated and maintained, but facades remain largely unchanged. The big beautiful doors of buildings that face the canals were actually the “front” doors back when everyone used boats to get around. The city was founded in the 5th century, and I kept thinking, who had the bright idea to build a city on a bunch of teeny tiny islands??
I took a 2.5 hour train from Milan to Venice for just €30 and then arrived in tourist central. The main areas of Venice are PACKED with tourists, it’s absolutely insane. I stayed at Generator Hostel just off the main island, on Giudecca. It’s about a 40 min ferry/vaporetto ride from the train station, which isn’t very convenient, but it’s relatively inexpensive and in a quiet location with a great view of the main island. If you’re staying anywhere off the main island (the fish looking part), buy a 24 or 48 hour ticket (€20 or €30 respectively) because each ferry ride is €7.50.
Obvi, I walked around St Mark’s Square, and it’s pretty much always super crowded, but it’s lovely in the evenings. Different bands play in front of the restaurants around the square, and the whole place is lit up beautifully. I don’t suggest eating at the restaurants here, not only because they are menu pushers, but because they are overpriced and geared towards uninformed tourists.
The next morning, I got breakfast at Pasticceria Tonolo and then wandered up to the Cannaregio area in the northern part of the island. It is much quieter and more residential. I went to I Gesuiti, which has this beautifully ornate interior. The entrance fee is €1, and there’s almost no one around.
Close by, there’s also the Church of Madonna dell’Orto. €3 entrance fee, and you’ll find all these paintings by Tintoretto inside.
As I continued wandering, I met a local hotel owner, Mateo, who recommended Osteria Bea Vita for lunch. It was inexpensive, the service was both fast and friendly (a rare find!), and the house prosecco was amazing.
Sign up for a Venice free walking tour early on! Unfortunately, I didn’t sign up fast enough, and all the earlier tours were full, but I was able to catch one my last evening. They emphasize sustainable tourism, and each tour guide gives their own rendition along with many suggestions for where to shop, dine, drink, and visit.
If you’re traveling by yourself, it’s a great way to meet other people as well. During the tour, I met a sweet older couple repping Florida Gators gear (I was wearing my Longhorns cap). I also met a brother sister duo from Austin! After the tour, we grabbed cicchetti (Italian tapas) at Al Timon, sat on a random boat to eat, and drank ombra (homemade wine).
My last day, I only had a couple hours before I had to catch my train, and I still hadn’t seen the Doge’s Palace yet. It was a mad scramble to get to the main island from my hostel, check my bag into the train station’s baggage storage (€7 per bag), and then shove my way through hoards of tourists in the narrow alleyways. I bought a ticket online to get into a somewhat shorter line, and was left with an hour in the Doge’s Palace.
I thought Venice is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities, but the amount of tourists was really too much for me. It’s more difficult sometimes, and I’m still working on being more mindful, but wherever you go, try to practice sustainable tourism to support the local people, economy, and environment.
Lessons and Tips
- Do a walking tour!
- There are no cars allowed in the city, and bicycles aren’t allowed in most places either. Venice is not handicap friendly in the least, as most bridges consist of stairs without ramps.
- Google Maps saved me so much time, but I still got lost even while staring at my dot on the map
- Check out the touristy must sees, but definitely check out the quieter residential areas as well
- To save some money in this hella expensive city, find places where the locals go
- Have the pistachio chocolate pastry for breakfast at Pasticceria Tonolo
- Buy Doge’s Palace tickets ahead of time to avoid the longer line (there still will be a line)
Photos taken with the iPhone 6s or Fujifilm X-E2s