The visual beauty of Venice
With its 116 islands, winding waterways, cobbled courtyards, beautiful architecture and tiny back streets, Venice is one of the most picturesque and recognizable cities in the world.
But Venice offers far more than what you see in photos and on TV. This ancient city provides a stunning backdrop for modern, pioneering contemporary art, meaning that this is a city very much looking forward as much as looking back. Even cheap digital cameras will take stunning images in this stunning city.
For the first few hours upon arriving you will probably spend your time standing back and admiring the genius of a city built on water, with huge marble churches based upon posts driven into mud banks. Looking at ancient arched bridges scattered with osterias (bars) and traditional trattorias (restaurants) should precede a ride on a gondola along the Grand Canal.
Then, once you have appreciated the scale of it all, you can delve deeper and explore a place of contrasts, the modern alongside the ancient, the innovative as well as traditional, a place that ebbs and flows with the tide of the water that surrounds it.
Speaking of water, don’t forget to watch out for Acqua alta (high water), when many of the courtyards and streets become flooded, meaning the city is only navigable by raised walkways. An Acqua Alta map can be found at tourist information and if you haven’t been able to locate one, there are many cafés with internet points for laptops, so you could always log on to find the tourist points that are not as well advertised while you are there.
All this beauty comes at a price; its endless charm means tourists regularly outnumber locals, meaning you have to share the many sights with several hundred other people.
To try and avoid the crowds I recommend avoiding Venice in high season. Not only is it busier during the summer but the heat can be stifling and, given the amount of standing water, fly infestations and less than savoury smells can hover above the waterways.
Try heading across in spring or autumn when the heat is less intense and you may just get that museum to yourself.