We came in to Venice via the intercity train from Milano. Again, stations don’t expect tourists to come with bags. Get ready to carry your bags up many stairs. When you mention Venice everybody pictures the most romantic place in Italy. There are many parts to Venice. The most popular tourist spot that is called Venice is the main Venice Island. The Venice Island contians the popular canals and little bridges. The main islands are known to be sinking for decades now. There are many other parts to Venice. Once such is Mestre, where we stayed.
Mestre is the central area of Venice. We stayed in Via Chioggia. Here’s the reason why we stayed in Mestre. Venice Island is expensive, and there weren’t too many options. The cost you pay in Venice Island for your stay doesn’t really fall into the value for money bracket. Mestre is located 20 min from the Venice Island. We found better options at better prices in Mestre.
- Mestre is claimed to be non-touristic. While this applies to shops being closed for long hours in the afternoon, it doesn’t really apply to the prices.
- While Mestre is less expensive compared to Venice Island. It’s a bit of a shocker after the stay in Rome or even Milan.
- The food options are definitely far better in Mestre than in Venice Island. Try and catch your meals here as much as possible. Al Calesse is a lovely restaurant with great food and wine. They stay open till midnight.
Getting Around in Mestre
- Busses are the only way to get around. It’s not easy to find tickets, especially in the afternoons, shops are closed. Tickets on the busses are twice the cost. This aspect can be termed – daylight robbery. You will need to get used to it.
- There are busses to and from Venice Island once every half hour. The busses ply till midnight.
- The busses get quite crowded.
- Buy return tickets as it is not easy to find these stores on the way back.
Venice Island, Venice
This is the sinking areas of Venice which is popular worldwide. Venice Island has a large number of small bridges taking you over the network of canals. The city is filled with tourists. Gondolas can be seen in these canals. Gondolas used to have Italian singers playing the accordion. We didn’t find any of that, not sure why.
Getting Around in Venice Island
- Walk. Ensure that you have active mobile data. This allows you to get lost in the many gullies of Venice Island. Google Maps helps you get back with extremely high accuracy. If you have mobile internet, you will not need those maps. Mobile is simply far more accurate.
- There are multi-day passes that are available – 24hr, 48hr, 72hr, etc. These passes cover both unlimited boat access in Venice Island and the busses to Mestre.
- The passes appear very expensive. That’s because – welcome to Venice. But if you are without the pass and would like to take the trip to Murano and Burano you will spend a lot more than the cost of the pass. You will not need the passes if you plan to stay only within the main Venice Island.
Well, it is no surprise that the Venice being the touristic capital of Italy ends up having the worst food of the lot. Prepare for very average food at high prices in Venice. If your Italian journey brought to Venice from the South of Italy, you will crave for the fantastic food you got in the first part of your journey, but will not get any of it. Try and look out for places located in the smaller lanes of Venice, they might end up being a little tastier. Better yet, if you are coming in from Mestre, try and grab one meal there – either lunch or dinner.
City : Sights, Sounds and Safety
- Venice is quite safe, it’s filled with tourists. Feel free to get lost in the little alleys. Walk around discover new alleys and bridges, sit around, eat gelato.
- Stick around till late at night. That’s when a lot of the day tourists leave and Venice in the moonlight is quite something. There are streets that get quite scary and alone, then it suddenly opens into a square with a restaurant and gelato place.
- Head to the St. Marco Square. The evenings are special here – well lit with tiny orchestras playing live music. Each of the musica spots are actually restaurants with outdoor seating. Make sure you grab a drink and spend some time listening to them play. The instruments typically includes a double bass, violin, piano, accordion, clarinet.
- Murano and Burano are two popular islands off the main Venice Island. Do remember to take the multi-trip pass on the day you plan to visit these islands.
- Murano is the first stop and is an island that is known for glassblowing. You get to see a few glass blowing and shaping demos. The glass being shaped is at 1400 degrees. You can pick up a few souvenirs too.
- Burano is like looking at a multi-coloured Venice. The island has small alleys and bridges but each of the buildings is painted in one bright colour after the other. Walk around, continue getting lost, grab a coffee when tired.