Taking on a city in a day is no mean feat. Between carving out a comprehensive itinerary, mastering public transport, and banking on fair weather (ahem, London), only seasoned travellers will know how to get the most out of their 24 hours. Though it’s not high on the list of top student retreats, Venice is more than generous to the traveller who wants to soak up huge amounts of culture in a short space of time – without taking a huge chunk out of your budget. So I offer you, the reader, a simple outline on how to make your daylong sojourn to this labyrinthine lagoon, serenissima.
Arrive: Bus or train. If you want to save time and retain the contents of your stomach, you will avoid the slow and rather pricey vaporetto (water-taxi) from the mainland. Buses from Marco Polo Airport take 15 minutes on the lone road into the floating city, dropping you off at the busy Piazzale Roma in the North West. Trains also terminate here (at Santa Lucia), if Venice is a stop-off on an Interrailing route.
Navigate: Walk. As much your romantically-inclined heart yearns to ride the gondola to the sound of ‘O Sole Mio,’ your coin purse will suggest otherwise – €28pp is the best I could find, pre-booked (€40 was the norm if you ask the gondolier in person).
As much as your romantically-inclined heart yearns to ride the Gondola to the sounds of ‘O Sole Mio,’ your coin purse will suggest otherwise…
As enchanting as the canals are, the classic human pursuit of ambulatory locomotion (id est ‘Walking’) is perhaps the best way to travel between the sights, and you can freely let yourself get drawn down the quaint little alleyways that continental Europe seems to do so well. Venice is kind to walkers (as long as you wear good shoes).
See: West to East. Starting at the Piazzale Roma, a rundown, vague route to see the best of Venice – whilst of course keeping an eye on the Euros:
- Campo Gheto Novo (Eastbound): The Old Jewish Ghetto, the centrepiece of which is quaint square, surrounded by historic apartments, synagogues, authentic restaurants and – worth a quick visit – the intimate Jewish Museum.
- Ca d’Oro, Grand Canal, and Rialto Bridge: A palace, the canal and that bridge – sums up Venice really. Even the shockingly few among you who are not Renaissance architecture freaks will appreciate the intricate handiwork of the edifices that sit alarmingly, but impressively, close to the water. Probably almost as pretty as the Parade over the River Leam.
- Mark’s Square and Basilica/Doge’s Palace (East, and Southwest): Probably with the highest concentration of selfie sticks per km² in Europe, this is not only the touristic centre of Venice, but also the former seat of government for the Repùblica Vèneta. Now ‘Doge’ is just a Facebook meme. How the mighty have fallen.
- Teatro Fenice (Westbound): Meek on the outside but beautiful on the inside (much like yours truly), the ‘Phoenix Theatre’ is Italy’s premier opera house. Even if you cannot splash out on an opera, a tour of the delicately gilded interior is impressive enough.
- Ponte dell’Accademia: Meanwhile, The Accademia Bridge – the Rialto’s bigger, but less famous brother – looks over the Grand Canal and, predictably, the Academy (an art gallery – itself worth a gander). Please note that you cannot see the building that sunk into the Canal at the end of Casino Royale. That was CGI.
(Return Northbound and cross the Ponte della Costituzione to complete the loop, and your day in Venice.)
Eat: Venice does not lack for affordable eats (just stay away from St. Mark’s Square). You can try Polenta for a taste of Venetian cuisine, but Italy screams authentic pizza, pasta, and gelato – the former two of which are commonplace, but for the latter, I recommend the quality of the Boutique del Gelato as a creamy stop-off between Rialto Bridge and the Basilica.