Whenever the subject of the Italian city of Venice comes up in conversation there’s always a split in the proverbial camps. There are always people who say they’ve been to Venice and adored it and would love to return and then there are always people who say something along the lines of ‘oh isn’t Venice smelly and dirty?’ I’ve found that a lot of the time the people who are in the latter camp haven’t actually even been to the city and yet have preconceived ideas about it.
I’m firmly ensconced in camp number one with the Venice lovers. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Venice 5 or 6 times. The first time was when I was twelve and on holiday in Rimini with my parents. I pestered them until they agreed that we would get up at 4am and go to Venice for a day trip. (Yes, I’ve always been desperate to visit new places. And stubborn. Definitely stubborn.) I loved Venice on that first visit, and I think it’s safe to say I love it even more now.
One of the things I love most about Venice is the sheer amount of history that is captured within the canals, bridges and ostentatious architecture of the city. Walking around the city it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine the people who lived there centuries ago walking through the streets, going about their daily business.
I’ve visited the Doge’s Palace twice and both times I simply loved walking through the interior rooms with their ornate decoration and over the top Italian flair. Inside the Palace you can walk through the rooms that have been inhabited by various Doge’s throughout the years and even walk across the famous Bridge of Sighs. Earlier this year I was walking across the bridge peeking out of the holes that reputedly prisoners would glimpse their last views of the city before they embarked upon prison life on the other side. A huge clap of thunder struck just as I walked over the bridge and it added to the atmospheric feeling.
The one thing I dislike about Venice is the sheer volume of tourists that are there all year round. The main areas of the city such as St. Marks Square and the streets and canals which surround it are always mobbed with tourists. My favourite thing to do is to wander off the main tourist trail and explore some side streets and quieter areas of the city. I think this gives a more authentic experience of the city and makes it more enjoyable to see the streets without bumping into groups of tourists following a tour guide with an umbrella every two seconds.
So, reserve your judgement on Venice until you’ve actually visited the city. If you travel there and decide you still don’t like it then that’s okay. Some places aren’t for everyone and we all have different likes and dislikes. But please, don’t denounce Venice until you’ve experienced it for yourself.