After the initial excitement of booking it we’d become a little unsure of our August trip to Venice. Loads of people began warning us of the hot and sticky August weather, the crowded piazzas and the rise in cruise ship tourism overwhelming the city. We had booked on the Thello overnight train from Paris to Venice (quite an adventure in itself) and then five nights staying at the Casa dei la Pittori apartments. We needn’t have worried about all ‘Venice in August’ warnings – once we’d mastered navigating the alleyways (calle), how to use the water-buses (vaporetto) and, crucially, how to avoid the crowds by avoiding the tourist honeypots at the busiest times of the day – you can’t help but fall head-over-heels for the city. It is probably one of the most touristy places on the planet but magnificent all the same.
Apparently, almost 20 million people visit Venice every year but only about 3 million stay overnight. I assume the rest day trip from the mainland or are disgorged from the cruise ships to ‘do’ Venice in a few short hours during the heat of the day before returning to dine with the Captain (or whatever you do on a cruise ship). This means that for that those that can stay overnight you can have the extraordinary experience of wandering around St Mark’s Square with almost no-one there or winding your way through the narrow alleyways to get to the Rialto Bridge and finding it empty but for a couple of equally spellbound visitors. Mind you, to experience this, you will have to get up before dawn – but it is well worth the early start. If you then while away the day in a cafe or have a snooze back at your accommodation then you can emerge again in the late evening and take a water bus up the Grand Canal as the evening light reflects off the water on to the the villas lining the banks.
The key ‘must dos’ are St Mark’s Square (San Macro Piazza), the Grand Canal (Canal Grande), the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), the Gondolas and the Basilica San Marco but, to be honest, there is so much history, art, architecture, stunning views and people watching that it’s overwhelming – we just ended up doing what we could and promising ourselves we would return another time.
The photography was a bit tricky. The first issue was getting a shot without hundreds of tourist in the way (solved by getting up before get up before dawn for the pre-dawn light and empty piazzas) – the second issue was it is difficult not to have every shot look like a cliche postcard – each view is stunning but you can feel a little like you’ve seen it before – sometimes in a James Bond movie!. Anyway, here are my attempts at the ‘classic’ Venice shots. In the next post I will try and show another side of Venice – perhaps one you don’t always see in the picture postcards”.