The city of Venice is easily reached from Paris by train using the overnight service out of Bercy station.
If your an adventurous type, the campsite at Mistre on the mainland overlooking Venice old town is ideal and with great facilities.
It even has its own boat service to the old city. If the boat works out a bit pricey, buses from Mistre campsite take you to Mistre transport exchange, from which a five minute ride by train or bus takes you to the heart of Venice proper- couldn't be easier.
Only a few minutes from the railway station, bus station and Vaparetto stops, but tucked down a quiet alleyway.
The price is good (85 Euros for a single ensuite, 110 for a double) and the rooms, though small, are comfortable and spotless. Recommended for those on a budget who want a no-frills but pleasant place to stay in Venice.
I booked through www.venere.com but other agencies list the hotel as well.
Cannaregio 219 - Calle Gioacchina, Lista di Spagna, Venezia, Italia 30121. Turn left out of the train station down Lista di Spagna. The hotel is down a small alleyway about 3/4 of the way down.
Great 4 stars hotel with nice location and very polite staff, I stayed there 2 weeks ago for 3 days on vacation, The Hotel Saturnia is a family run hotel with very traditional decor and rooms, however if you like something more modern you have the possibility to choose from the 93 rooms (some are single...)
The glass factories on Murano take would-be buyers by water taxi from San Marco for a short demonstration of glass blowing.
This is worth a trip anyway, plus it's worthwhile wandering around the shops.
The only catch is that you'll get the sales pitch from the staff on the way out. The prices here are ridiculously high. You can buy exactly the same glassware outside the factory for less. So just stiffen up your lip and walk on out.
Ask at your hotel or look out for agents early in the morning at San Marco.
The water taxi office at the airport is usually surrounded by tourists wondering whether their magical trip to Venice is quite so magical now they've found out just how expensive the water taxis are.
The cost of the trip is the cost for the whole boat, so just go ahead and ask "Does anyone want to share a taxi?" Even if split between just two couples the cost rapidly becomes less eye-watering.
The water taxi office is located with the car rental offices at the south end of the arrivals area.
Details of transfers are available from the Corsozio Motoscafi website: www.motoscafivenezia.it/trans.htm
Venice Cream is a gelato shop located right on the canal between the Arsenale boat stop and San Marco square. You should avoid this shop at all costs.
I requested a taste of the gelato & was handed "chocolate" gelato that was terrible. When I requested a different flavor, the owner became obviously upset, and very reluctantly gave me my taste of mint gelato. Just as I was about to have a taste, I glanced in the case & noticed numerous bugs & flies on the front edge of the cooler. When I pointed them out to him, he became angry & began to yell at me in Italian. I was amazed that he would be angry with me when his shop clearly had major cleanliness issues. Nonetheless, he continued to yell and waved me out of his shop, still yelling as I walked away.
For cleanliness sake, I would avail myself of one of the dozens of other gelato shops around Venice. So many of them are wonderful (and CLEAN) and the people are very friendly. Unfortunately, Venice Cream is not one of them.
On the canal between Arsenale boat stop & San Marco square, near the Metropole Hotel.
Wonderful detective novels set in Venice. Donna Leon is an American author living in Venice and her observations of the city and her affection for it couldn't be put to better use. Her books made me feel like I knew Venice before I got there and in fact give you some good tips if you want to experience Venice like a Venetian and not a tourist. Her descriptions of food will make your mouth water!
Any good book shop.
It tastes better in Venice than anywhere else. Have it as a mid-morning ombra with cicheti (small snacks in bars) or as an aperitif or with your dolci or just for the sake of it. Best drunk standing outside in the sunshine watching the world go by.
All over Venice!
Attached to the La Calcina pensione this wonderful restaurant has great food at a fair price, which is not bad in Venice particularly given the view here. A good mix of meals and light snacks and good for vegetarians.
In Dorsoduro by the Zattere vaporetto stop.
Get away from the crowds and walk to the Arsenale. You can't go inside, but the gates are pretty spectacular with ancient lions guarding the shipyard that was once the lifeblood of the city.
Walk about 15 minutes East of San Marco into Castello - the arsenale is signposted.
If you want to see art in Venice, it doesn't come any better than this. Tintoretto's painting of the crucifixion literally took my breath away. This has been described as the Venice equivalent of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and I wouldn't disagree. It is a real tour de force by Tintoretto and shouldn't be missed.
My other favourite place for his paintings is Santa Madonna dell'Orto in the north of Cannaregio.
Right by the Frari church in the lovely and quiet San Polo sestiere.
We decided to be environmentally friendly and go to Venice on the train. Not necessarily cheaper than the plane, but you travel overnight from Paris (it leaves at about 9pm) and arrive in the middle of Venice in the morning. It's a wonderful and romantic way to get there.
Visit www.seat61.com for details.
Antico Doge is situated right on a little canal 5 minutes walk from the Rialto. You are in the heart of Venice but not in an area swamped with tourists. The hotel has been recently renovated, with the emphasis on creating a very luxurious ambience - gilt cherubs, swags of drapery, trompe l'oeil. The bedroom was really comfortable with a great shower and a window over the canal (you could hear voices and footsteps - but, of course, no cars!). Very romantic and relaxing.
Accommodation in Venice is not cheap - and neither is this hotel - but the streets are litter free, public transport is brilliant, all goods have to be delivered by boat: if you consider these costs and the taxes that businesses must pay to cover them, then it is surely value for money. You can't expect to stay in a museum for nothing!
C.po SS. Apostoli - Cannaregio 5643
Telephone: 041 2411570
The island of Torcello, 45 minutes from Venice by Vaporetto, is where Venice began. A perfect antidote to palaces and high renaissance art.
This tiny windswept island in the marshes was the place where the first settlers, fleeing from Attila the Hun, found refuge and laid the foundations for the mighty Venetian republic. Incredibly it once had 20,000 inhabitants before malaria took hold. Now all that's left is a wonderful church with fantastic 11th century mosaics and a bell tower which gives stunning views over allotments, marshes and the distant towers and domes of Venice.
There's also a rather fine restaurant Al Ponte del Diavolo, serving (very) local rabbit and fine pasta with wild fennel sauce (on the day we went). A perfect place for a spring lunch and to reflect on the beginnings and end of the Venetian republic!
Take the Vaporetto (LN route) from Fondamente Nuove stop. Change at Burano for shuttle to Torcello.
This cosy wine house five minutes from the Rialto serves dozens of wonderful wines by the glass, starting at about 1.5 euros for a glass of prosecco.
Also serves delicious bar food - when it's gone, it's gone. The atmosphere is that of a private party - you can spill out on to the street or eat at little drop-down ledges, built into the walls of the shop.
A great alternative to an expensive and indifferent meal in a tourist restaurant.
Cannaregio 5984 / Salizada San Canciano
I recommend this restaurant if you fancy a Fawlty Towers experience. I went there with my family which included my two young nephews. The place itself is quite posh, however the mature waiter lost the plot.
We tried to order two Margherita pizzas with ham on. This sent the waiter into a rage with him srcatching frantically into his writing pad. He pronouced loudly he had a table of 20 booked which were coming any minute. We all felt intimidated by his behaviour.
After being told another pizza was off the menu we quickly left. Service with a smile it wasn't!
Calle Priuli, 106 Venice. Tel 041.8947958
If you are planning a visit to Venice look no further than Palazzo Odoni. You can book online at www.palazzoodoni.com.
We have stayed in several places in Venice but this has been the best yet and we would definitely stay there again. There is no better recommendation than that!
It is a charming place to stay in, the quiet area of Santa Croce, we love this area away from the tourist trail. The palazzo is situated on Fondamenta Minotto just a few minutes walk from Piazzale Roma, the bus station, but if you want to take the more expensive option from the airport, the water taxi will take you more or less to the door. The double doors take you into a delightful courtyard and up some stone steps to another door followed by steps into the palazzo.
As you walk into the palazzo you get a real feeling that you are entering into a bit of Venetian history. Alessandro and Alessandra are the hosts and they will give you a warm welcome.
We stayed in a double superior room with beautiful furnishings and a lovely en-suite bathroom with a jacuzzi bath. The room looked onto a church and the rooftops and was very quiet and tranquil.
Book it now and go, you won’t regret it and once you have visited Palazzo Odoni you will want to go again.
A shot of espresso with a dash of foamed milk.
An excellent way to enjoy a shot of coffee, best taken standing at the bar. It is socially acceptable to drink anytime of the day, not marking you out as the sort of person who would drink a capuccino after lunch.
The splash of milk makes the espresso more palatable. But do not spoil this by adding sugar.
A macchiato is also cheap. Even standing in a cafe right by the Rialto bridge I have still paid only one euro for a macchiato.
Enjoy, but be careful, by the time you leave Italy you will be having one of these an hour.
Any Cafe, Bar
We rented a flat direct from a Venetian Family just 50m from the Rialto Bridge and shopped at the famous markets for fish and vegetables. Wander the backstreets and copy the local habit of eating ciccetti with a glass of prosecco at any time between 11am and 8pm.
For great value food and wine eat at an enoteca in the quiet areas of Castello or San Polo, for luxury arrive in a water taxi at midnight during Carnevale!
We found or flat at www.holiday-rentals.co.uk
Venice has to be explored at 4am. The change in the city is quite simply indescribable to somebody who has only seen it during the tourist-infested day. Wait long enough and you get first the birds, then the dawn, and finally early-bird locals up and about, much friendlier than they are during the day as they presume you are one of them.
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