When visiting Venice, don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path, or prescribed tourist trail. Venice is a city made for walkers and it is difficult to get lost for long. Simply pick up a handy pocket-sized map at the railway station or at one of the numerous newspaper stands which dot the city, and off you go.
If the crowds become too much for you – and believe me, in season Venice often becomes a hot, jostling nightmare – then nip down a back alley and keep walking. And walking. Seems unbelievable I know, but it is truly easy to find areas of the city that are tourist free and quiet at all times of the year.
Visit the areas which are lived in by the Venetians themselves and see how they live life in this fascinating city.
Or go there in winter, when the tourist season is at its lowest. Early one foggy morning, I photographed these locals queuing to buy fruit and vegetables from a barge moored on a back canal in the sestiere (district) of Castello.
Near the Rialto Bridge and the eponymous markets, you will find lots of little streets that are unmarked on your map. These little alleyways are full of tiny bacari (wine bars) where you can pull in for a delicious cicchetti (tapas-like snacks) and an ombra (glass of the local wine) – see my blog on these delicious treats HERE.
Stop at a bar and have a coffee or an Aperol spritz with the locals or buy a delicious pastry at one of the many pasticceria (pastry shops) which dot the city.
Hop on a vaporetto (water bus) and head to the island of Giudecca if you really want to escape. Wander around the old – and not so old – streets and have a look around. And don’t forget the islands of Murano and Burano; once you venture off the tourist trails there, you will find quiet areas too.
Most tourists who visit Venice do so in a tour group and never get to experience the “real” Venice, so dive down the nearest alleyway and enjoy!