Throw Away the Map !
If I can share one piece of advice about visiting Venice, it would be to forget the map and simply get lost in Venice’s labyrinth of winding streets, foot bridges, stairs going up and down and around, leading you to dead ends or hidden churches, or yet more mysterious passageways to peak through and follow as well.
To me, that is the best way to discover Venice. I spent a day or two simply roaming around the city, taking it all in. I will admit, I first tried to follow along on a map, but quickly realized that was not happening. Streets with no names, at least half the name missing, or the street just entirely missing from map. The same street name in 5 different neighborhoods, plus miniscule streets that seem like they gave birth to more and more tiny streets. Of course there is no room on the map! It wasn’t as much fun as simply walking with my head up and eyes wide open, camera in hand, following this bit of canal or that bit of sidewalk (which tends to end all of a sudden), winding around this corner or going through that arch, taking a narrow street this way, that way, and always wondering where it might lead. But always knowing that it?s leading in the right direction: to a new discovery. A new street or a beautiful and colorful facade of a building, or better yet – a pasticceria, gelateria or funky little shop specializing in harmonicas, gelato equipment, hand-sculpted wooden toys, wax stamps or carnival masks. All of which I saw.
Every now and then, I would ask a friendly waiter at a bar or one hanging out in front of his restaurant (ready to extend a personal invitation to all who pass) to show me on a map where I was. Then I could pretend to get a lay of the land, or start to familiarize myself with the area – whether it be the bustling streets around the Rialto marketplace, the old Jewish ghetto of Cannaregio, the quiet canals of Dorsoduro, or the more lively areas of San Polo and Santa Croce. Or at least once when I needed no guidance, San Marco Square!
For now, feel free to get lost in my photos of the streets and steps, and soon you?ll find yourself reading here about some of the discoveries I made, most of all in those pasticcerias and gelaterias, but of course!
I have a question. What if you actually have to be somewhere specific? If you have been to Venice, please tell us how you find your way around! Any advice?