A consequence of the more I travel, the longer my list of Future Must See destinations grows. On my list are Thailand, Greece, the Grand Canyon, Peru, and countless others. The post below highlights romantic ideas for a place I have yet to be, Venice. Although, I have visited Italy, I unfortunately missed Venice. Until I make it to Venezia, here are some recommendations from HostelBookers.com on Venice for Valentine’s Day.
Spending Valentine’s Day in Venice
Here’s an odd piece of advice if you’re looking for romance in Venice: don’t rely on finding it via a gondola ride. Despite the boats looking so elegant from the shore, the experience on board isn’t quite the intimate interlude it’s cracked up to be. Forget privacy, for starters: gawkers on bridges will peer at you throughout, and your ‘just the two of us’ moment will be captured (in blurred form) in a million unsolicited holiday snapshots. Combine that with your choppy navigation of all the other couple-stuffed gondolas on the Grand Canal, and the 40-minute ride’s price (€80 – some unscrupulous types might try to charge more) and you’re looking at rather a disappointing romantic highlight.
Venice is a beautiful city by anyone’s standards, with palazzos and churches resembling illustrations cut from a book of fairy tales. You can have a really romantic time here – but it’s worth remembering that the most prescribed experiences usually aren’t the best. Below, we list a mix of things to do with your loved one in Venice, from the touristy stuff that’s worth it to some off-the-beaten-track things you might not have thought of…
Things to do on a romantic trip to Venice
Dancing in St. Mark’s Square by night
St. Mark’s Square is Venice’s historic heart and soul, holding three of its most-loved attractions in one spot: St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile (the bell tower in front of the basilica) and the Doge’s Palace (or Palazzo Ducale, the ancient home of Venetian ruling power, now a museum) next door to the square. St. Mark’s draws huge crowds, so go at night when the cruise ship day-trippers are safely back in their cabins and enjoy the illuminated buildings and the soft strains of café orchestras. For extra romance brownie points, grab your sweetie for an impromptu dance under the moon.
Walk over the Bridge of Sighs
The Ponte dei Sospiri or ‘Bridge of Sighs’ is one of the most beautiful sights in Venice, a Baroque limestone bridge connecting ancient prison cells with the Doge’s Palace interrogation rooms. Lord Byron christened it so because its view would be the last picture of Venice convicts would see before imprisonment and a probable death sentence. While the truth is decidedly less romantic – the view isn’t much cop from the barred windows, and the days of executions were over by the time the bridge was built – the name has stuck as a byword for the sweeping reaction the city induces in even the hardest of hearts. Walk over the Bridge of Sighs hand-in-hand with your loved one while you visit the Doge’s palace – entry costs a reasonable €13 for the 1000 years of history you’ll discover within its walls.
Venice is a seafood city, with traditional Venetian dishes including roasted eel, creamed or dried cod and clams with parsley. If you’re not a fish-fan, you can still eat well – try meatballs, pea risotto or veal liver stewed in onions. Couples visiting Venice are often lured into having a bad meal via the island’s deluge of tourist-trap restaurants. To avoid these, leave the crowds and take a wander down less well-known alleys – here lay the places to stumble across the real deal in Venetian cooking. Also beware of restaurants where any of the following occur: they advertise ‘typical’ Italian but non-native dishes like pizza; their menus come in five different languages in plastic binders; or you can only see tourists eating inside.
Visit an island: Murano, Torcello or Burano
If you feel like a change, visiting another island in the Venice lagoon can make for a super-romantic daytrip. Murano, home of Murano glass, is the closest, most famous– but if you’ve never seen glass blown before it can be great fun to join the crowds for a demonstration. To save on money, catch a vaporetto over and take a stroll through the town’s winding, cobbled alleys. You don’t have to tag on to the end of a massive tour – simply keep your eyes open and before long you should find a smaller open studio doing free glass-blowing demos. While you’re there, you can also ooh and ahh at the beautiful displays at the Glass Museum.
Murano feeling too crowded? Head a bit further out into the lagoon and you’ll arrive at Burano, which still sees a healthy flow of visitors but in nowhere near as overwhelming volumes. With its colourful houses and speciality lace-making boutiques, it feels pretty and quirky: the perfect place for a romantic stroll. Torcello, the furthest island from Venice city, is the quietest: most of the land is a nature reserve.
Looking for a place to stay on Valentine’s Day?
**Guest post provided by HostelBookers.com, affordable hostels in numerous destinations, including Venice, with free booking and no worries.