Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Ok chaps, if you have not yet whisked away your loved one to this fine city to wine and dine her, why not? I mean it only took me 30 (+) years to get here.
You are all probably thinking the same thing again, Tom and Lucy telling me that we must go somewhere. Well maybe, but I am mainly saying this to the lotharios and studs out there who want to impress their life partner or fancy woman without needing to break the bank. Ok, you might still break the bank but then that is up to you.
Listen up. People have said many things to me about Venice such as it is a bit dirty, smells, rats everywhere, expensive, lots of people and so on. But only some of that is true. Mainly the people bit. Venice does not smell. It is not dirty and is not expensive, unless you want it to be. I did not see any rats either although I am sure they exist. If you are keen to know more please read on.
Travel and Hotels This is going to be the big cost. That said, we stayed in a wagon for £17 a night which was a short bus ride away from the city. It may have been romantically called the Love Wagon (based on the fact we are recently engaged) but for the suave and sophisticated, it may not hit the mark for a sexy weekend away. It was actually situated on an organic farm. They encourage openness and sharing here, and attracts artists, musicians, writers, poets etc., who put on small scale shows every now and then.
Our first night was a rock n roll night with a band made up of six 60+ year olds playing 60's tunes. They played Cliff Richard at one point! Other than that our stay was pleasant. We borrowed one of their old battered bikes and cycled the 1km down the road to the bus stop and then catch a 20 minute bus ride into Venice. Not bad really. We got bitten a bit by mosquitos and were crammed inside our wagon, but it did the job and after going to bed we generally got some sleep and awoke the next morning. Good enough.
Sightseeing Free. All you need to do is get lost around all the different alleyways and make sure to have long lunches, aperitivos and long dinners. We did the free walking tour that took us around half the city for over 3 hours. Is a great way to learn about some of the history and facts of Venice. Did you know, it takes 1 year to build a gondola and there are 7,000 wells in Venice, none of which are in use. Did you know that the shutters were all painted green and brown to give the residents a sense of greenery since there are no gardens.
You are meant to tip a little at the end and, with facts like that, why would you not! The other free things to do are wander into the churches and odd museum, then take lots of photos around the main Piazza San Marco and every canal you pass.
Food Breakfast should take care of itself. Lunch should be stopping off into one of the cool cafes in the alleyways, avoiding any such bar or restaurant in any square whatsoever who charge roughly 20% more. Grab a traditional Proscietta panini or similar for about €4, espresso for €1 or wine for €3. We had 3 gondoliers wander up to the bar after their shift and with a wink, nod and tap of belt buckles they each had a small wine or beer plus a mini tapas sandwiches in their hands before they even said hello. We thought that was a good sign.
For dinner don't forget the aperitivo option (as talked about in Florence). We were recommended Taverna Remer which is apparently the best in town, offering a wonderful buffet of risotto, pasta and bruschetta between 5.30 - 7.30 when you buy a drink priced at €5. It did not disappoint. We perched by the busiest part of the Grande canal and looked smugly to the other side where many of the very posh restaurant guests parted with their cash.
Drinks If you sit in a square or in a posh place by the main canal you will pay more. If you go in quieter or out of the way places you can pay very little for wine, say €3/4 a glass. The local spritz cocktail is around €2.50 which ain't bad.
Other A gondola ride is €80 for one 30 min ride. You can have up to 6 people but the price remains the same for all boats. We ducked out of this and to be fair I am not sure our visit was cheapened because of it. If you are a naughty boy they sell fake designer handbags for about €10 or €20 on the streets. Water is free as they have free flowing water fountains which come straight from the mountains. Shopping for keepsakes or slightly different European clothing can be very cheap in some of the shops and there also have plenty of the top end fashion designers.
In summary we were very impressed by Venice's rustic yet well cleaned streets running along the canals. It boasted charm and uniqueness. We found ourself nipping over an endless number of bustling bridges as you brush past the occasional bright coloured, often crumbling, walls and good old fashioned heavy wooden doors and shutters giving the look and feel of something original, which we love. There is no other city in the world like it.
If you do not mind the crowds of people, walking lots due to its deceiving size and are prepared to pay for some nice accommodation, I think you could find as much romance here as you could in Paris. In smaller pockets but it is there.