There really is no other place like Venice. It’s unique location built on low islands in a lagoon in Northern Italy, along with it’s old and beautiful architecture, history and culture make it a must see destination for tourists. In fact, sometimes the amount of tourists in Venice can be truly overwhelming.
San Marco, the center of Venice, is the main place where the hordes gather, and rightly so as the Duomo San Marco and Doge’s Palace tower over Piazza San Marco, while on the waterfront and canals Gondoliers offer romantic gondola rides through the heart of Venice. Although San Marco is obviously the most popular area in the city, I chose to stay in this area after looking at a few hotel sites (such as this one), as it was easy to get to the Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge areas, which turned out to be the most popular areas of the city.
On the day that we visited the Rialto Bridge, we made our way to Piazza San Marco and hoped to find our way from there by following the hordes of tourists. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was only a certain amount of time before I had to get the hell out of there and turned down a random street in hope that I could find another, more quieter way to the bridge.
Wandering in the general direction that I felt we should be going, we wandered through quiet streets and alleys, crossing canals and turning around at dead ends. The area that we had ended up in was the Castello district of the city, and I had immediately realised that this was the real Venice. A place where we could really enjoy this interesting city.
Wandering aimlessly, we got blissfully lost in Castello, walking along quiet canals where the odd Gondola floated lazily along, and only occasional tourists would pass by. We discovered churches and piazzas that we never would have thought to visit, and there were little shops and cafes that should have been teeming with tourists, but were near empty.
Eventually, as we managed to find our way towards the Rialto Bridge, the hordes of tourists returned, and if I didn’t really want to see the bridge, I would have turned back to enjoy Castello some more.
For the rest of our time in Venice, we ventured away from San Marco, and the other areas of Venice were similar, but so much more quieter. If you’re travelling to Venice, let yourself get lost in it’s streets and alleys. This is how you will discover the real Venice.