anyone been to Venice recently?
February 12, 2016 4:53 PM   Subscribe

I've gotten great travel help on the Green before, so hoping someone here has been to Venice recently and wants to give recommendations. Specific requests inside!

we're going at the end of April, if it matters. I think we're there for April 25 which is a festival and that might be a good day to be out of town (or possibly a great day to watch regattas? I'm not sure!) We're renting an apartment near Teatro La Fenice. Could use recommendations for -

- private tour guides and/or walking tours, especially if can be customized to accommodate kids
- day trips (Vicenza? Verona? Could I get to Urbino?)
- restaurants with good value for the money
- tips for skipping lines (I just can't with lines, I'd rather give the site a miss)
- what to definitely not miss
- books to read to prepare/get in the mood
- &c!

BONUS QUESTION what is currently the best way to travel with an unlocked iPhone if I want to be able to make and receive (just a few) local calls without incurring crazy costs?
posted by fingersandtoes to Travel & Transportation around Venice, Italy (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For restaurants, go for seafood. I like Vini da Gigio, but if you ask or search over at Chowhound, you'll get a million recommendations. It's not my favourite food in Italy, but the seafood is really nice. I also really like Ca' d'Oro Alla Vedova, even though it's kind a cliche to like the cichete there.

A history book about Venice is a great idea before you go-- it makes something like piazza San Marco much more intelligible. City of Fortune is a quite readable history, I think, but you can find many depending on your taste. San Marco will have tons of tourists, so go early to see it and St. Mark's if you don't like lines. Honestly, with most of the attractions I found I could beat the crowds if I was there when or before they opened. (This is how I survived the Guggenheim collection.)

I honestly just enjoy running around on the vaporettos-- or walking the streets and taking pictures. Have fun.
posted by frumiousb at 5:24 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was in Venice two years ago for a few days. My recommendations are:

Do not miss the Peggy Guggenheim museum. It is fantastic, well worth the price of admission if you're even remotely a fan of modern art, and a nice break from all the portraits and religious icons in pretty much every other museum we went to. Skip the restaurant/cafe there. It was, IMO, overpriced and not that good.

Instead, make reservations at La Zucca, which was the best sit-down meal we had in Venice. Very vegetarian friendly if that's a concern for your group.

There are also a bunch of cicchetti bars. We stopped at Cantina do Mori for a glass of prossecco and some cicchetti.

We also loved the Scuola Grande de San Rocco. When you get to the top floor, be sure to grab a mirror so you don't have to strain your neck to see all of the Tintoretto murals on the ceiling.
posted by burntflowers at 5:35 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

City of Fortune is a quite readable history,

Indeed it is, but John Julius Norwich's also readable A History of Venice goes back farther and extends later.
posted by BWA at 5:46 PM on February 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Indeed it is, but John Julius Norwich's also readable A History of Venice goes back farther and extends later.

True. And it's a great book. I was just thinking about the 700 pages or so it takes to read. :)
posted by frumiousb at 6:02 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We were there last summer and stumbled upon the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari, which was fascinating, cheap, and not crowded. Lots of interesting artwork accumulated over the years, of widely varying styles and levels of tastefulness, plus the tomb of Monteverdi (I'm a nerd) and other famous Venetians.
posted by daisystomper at 6:17 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to do a mask making workshop, TRAGICOMICA is wonderful. Expensive, but they do a wonderful job. The people are nice and the company is legit. They make masks for major opera productions, movies and I was told Brad and Angelina took their kids there where she made THE TOURIST. Awful movie. Don't bother. It's near Piazza San Polo
2800 S. POLO, Venezia, VE 30125, 30100
+39 041 721102

If you want good pizza in Venice try Rossopomodoro ( Sestiere di S. Marco, 404, 30124 )
+39 041 243 8949 If you are in Piazza San Marco walk under the Clock Tower ( Torre dell'Orologio) and turn right at first calle, all the way to end, before the bridge, the restaurant will be on your left. It is a very touristy area, but the food is magnificent. It is a Neapolitan style pizzeria. Has pizza by the slice, stand and eat area + sit down restaurant.

Definitely go up the campanile/bell tower in Piazza San Marco! The views are magnificent, there is an elevator and if you go early morning or late afternoon the lines won't be bad. I think it's still only 8euro a person.

Do a gondola ride. It's expensive and maybe cheesy but the most memorable way to see Venice. Have fun! Buon viaggio!
posted by pjsky at 6:43 PM on February 12, 2016

Best answer: I took my partner to Alle Testiere for his 40th birthday dinner. It was really wonderful--great service, lovely food, and a very cozy dining room. I really recommend it.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:39 PM on February 12, 2016

Best answer: Addressing your phone question, hands down the easiest approach is to pick up a prepaid SIM card when you arrive at the airport or train station. Vodafone and TIM are the most common carriers, and prepaid plans designed for travelers including a decent amount of data, phone minutes, and texts were very reasonable.
posted by shelbaroo at 8:02 PM on February 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: - restaurants with good value for the money

Dalla Marisa.
posted by aws17576 at 8:20 PM on February 12, 2016

Best answer: I had really good meals at Trattoria da Bepi and Vini Da Gigio, which are about a 15- or 20-minute walk from Teatro La Fenice. Da Bepi was the cheaper of the two. Both have excellent seafood.
posted by neushoorn at 6:43 AM on February 13, 2016

Response by poster: followup question: (now I remember why I was stressing over this) we arrive at the Venice airport late at night, like 11:15 pm; and I need to be able to communicate with the rental landlord immediately to let him know we've arrived and what our local cell number is... Should I assume I will be unable to buy a SIM card that late, or would there be something available in a vending machine? Anyone know?
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2016

Best answer: I've never looked for sim-cards, but Venice airport is very basic, provincial and sleepy. If you have any possibility of getting the card beforehand, do that.

How long are you staying? The Veneto is beautiful, but Venice + the lagoon takes a week in itself. There is so much to see. I always recommend a day trip to Torcello, the first inhabited island in the lagoon. Both because it is a wonderful trip, and because it gives an idea of the origin of Venice.

In my experience, it was really hard to find the good places to eat in Venice the first time I went there.
There is so much money to made from tourist traps, and the traditional Venetian food is based on rice, fish, shellfish and dishes like fegato alla veneziana (liver, and yummy) which are not marketable to the widest audience.
And then there is the huge student population, who seem to subsist on pizza and beer, and are also well catered for.

Right now, my favorite restaurant is Enoteca Ai Artisti. Reservation is necessary. It is not far from the Cantinone–già Schiavi (992 Ponte San Troves), a wine bar with snacks which is mentioned in any discerning guidebook, but deserves it completely. View to the gondola wharf. In the same neighborhood, one finds Locanda Montin - which is no secret, but still a place with a special atmosphere and real Venetian food.

At the end of the week, there is always a lively scene at Campo Santa Margherita - students and professors and tourists hang out in the square which is surrounded by bars and restaurants.

It is no coincidence that all these places are in the same area, and off the tourist track. But there is also a nice bar and two restaurants with terraces very close to the fish-market at Campo Beccarie.The restaurants are tourist-oriented, but hey, there is a terrace, it is beautiful, and they are not that bad. I don't remember which is best. Nearby is an excellent traditional restaurant: Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie not cheap, though.
posted by mumimor at 11:42 AM on February 13, 2016

Best answer: I just remembered a random tip about getting back to the Venice airport. If you plan to take the ACTV bus, take the vaporetto to the Piazzale Roma (S. Chiara) stop, which is one past the stop for the train station. Otherwise, you'll have to walk across the Constitution Bridge, which is difficult if you have heavy suitcases (it has lots of steps). The office where you buy bus tickets is right in front of the vaporetto stop.
posted by neushoorn at 11:45 PM on February 14, 2016

Regarding books to read: for atmosphere, mood and essence, the fabulously old-school travel writer and journalist Jan Morris has written lots about the city.

(and her scrapbook of her travels in Europe is excellent wider context and a fab holiday read)
posted by runincircles at 9:01 AM on February 18, 2016

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