Carrying a map in one hand and our bags in the other, we immediately got lost. But with stunning canal views, romantic foot bridges and authentic experiences our adventure in Venice had just begun.
We made our way, by water taxi, to Rialto Bridge (the mainland) where hundreds of tourists greeted us and a maze of canals awaited us. And our first few steps through the streets of Venice was an indication of what lie ahead of us or rather behind us; streets with no names! Not only are street signs invisible in this city, the streets themselves come to an end. As you stare at a canal intersecting the path you were once on, there is nothing you can do but turn around and start over.
After many wrong turns, numerous dead ends and helpless locals, we found our B&B situated at the end of the street we had continuously walked past. The property manager looked at us in amazement as we entered, “You found us?!” After an hour, I thought to myself and just smiled back at her. We were staying in the historic center of Venice only five minutes from Rialto Bridge in one direction and five minutes from Piazza San Marco in another direction. As we started talking, she laughed when I mentioned “street signs” and told us not to bother using a map either. Instead, she advised us to explore the city on our own.
A typical ‘nameless’ street
And for two days we continuously got lost! But this confusion brought on romantic walks along side canals, eating gelato on the corner of streets, passing locals down back alleys and stopping at the end of the road to reflect on these moments. At times it was frustrating (I’m not going to lie) but, made up of over 100 islands stretching over water, Venice is worth every wrong turn and each unlabeled street!
We found ourselves in small secluded neighborhoods where Venetians conversed with each other from open windows and children kicked soccer balls down small alleys. As we strolled along narrow streets, the delicious aroma of home cooking filled the air and we found ourselves eating authentic Italian food made from the freshest ingredients in small family-run restaurants. We came upon small Piazzas and sat and watched as day turned into night and night turned into darkness. It was a truly amazing experience!
And through it all we avoided the masses of tourists that the summer months bring to Venice. Instead we enjoyed the short time alone in the city sitting along a canal and watching as gondolas passed by us one-by-one.
Dining Venetian style
Venice is filled with architecture, art and history and is a city to be discovered. It doesn’t provide grid lines to follow or a street sign to go by rather it gives each person the chance to be an individual and leave their own foot prints along unknown streets.
Now, ready to conquer Venice; here are a few tips to get over the fear of being lost.
- Stay in central Venice (even though many might disagree); you will be close to large prominent landmarks which will make it easier to find your way home after a day filled with wrong turns.
- Walk everywhere! It makes for an unforgettable experience in memory and on your wallet. There is so much that will be missed if a water taxi is your only means of transportation.
- Take a ride along the canals; there is no need to spend your life’s savings on a gondola ride so jump in a water taxi at the end of a long day and cruise the main canal. Not only will your feet be happy but you will leave with a true appreciation for Venice.
- Eat at restaurants you stumble upon; the delicious home made food will give you a true taste of Italy without spending an arm and a leg on dinner. And the locals will help you find your way home.
Who’s worried about getting lost with vistas like this!
- If you see herds of people traveling the same path, find a different way! Long lines of tourist form on the narrow streets of Venice but with so many roads leading to that one thing, take the road less traveled.
- Keep a map handy because sometimes, just sometimes, streets will have names.