My trip to Venice was to be my first time in Italy. Expectations were high – everyone loves Italy, right? Added pressure came from the fact my boyfriend and I had chosen to go at the end of January in an attempted two fingers up at the month of misery. It worked. Here’s what I learned…
1. It really is as beautiful as everyone says – I’ve never been anywhere as gorgeous. Your Insta has never looked better.
2. You haven’t eaten pizza till you’ve eaten it in Italy. Holy hell that’s some good shit. I had mine covered in gorgonzola, anchovies and capers.
3. There are leather handbag shops everywhere – don’t dismiss them (as I initially did) as tourist tat. They’re Aladdin’s Caves of really great quality leather handbags at ridiculous prices. I got this one for 30 euros and wish I’d bought more.
4. Venice is the perfect place to just wander. You don’t have to negotiate an underground system, you don’t have to rely on taxis, and it’s surprisingly pretty hard to get lost. Although there are millions of tiny streets and dead ends, it’s so compact that you never fear accidentally ending up 4 hours from your hotel in a dodgy part of town. We got by with the city signposts and occasional glimpse at Google maps.
5. Prosecco. It’s everywhere. It’s delicious. Have lots. Also worth noting: cute bottles of Aperol Spritz caught be bought in corner shops for a couple of Euros.
6. Travelling via water adds a fun novelty factor to normally-boring journeys. We landed at 7pm Venice-time, and got the Alliguna boat to our hotel. I’d definitely recommend this – it’s far cheaper than a water taxi, and really easy to buy tickets at the stand in the airport. It does take about an hour and a half to reach the centre, and because we’d arrived after-dark, the view from the boat was, well, non-existent. Still, beats a minibus any day.
7. Great hotels don’t cost a fortune if you avoid peak season. We stayed at the American Dinesan hotel, which was excellent. Our room was spacious and comfortable and there were friendly staff and a great breakfast buffet.
8. Venetians apparently eat early. We arrived about 8.30pm, and luckily the super-helpful receptionist explained this, and advised us to get going if we wanted to have dinner. I don’t know if that was a seasonal thing or a Venice thing, but I had no idea that would be the case.
9. We went to this restaurant three out of our four nights. It’s a traditional trattoria that serves incredible food at cheap prices. The first night we both had a huge plate of fritto misto washed down with a carafe of the house white. On return visits we had pizza and gnocchi. I’ve barely thought of anything else since.
10. You don’t have to have a go in a gondola. We didn’t bother. You do have to take a bridge selfie though – or did you EVEN GO?