So many dazzling attractions, but its food and wine stand out as favourites of ours, so wine tasting in Italy is always an experience we pursue. Wine, like food (and we’ve touched on food tours in Italy here) tells the story of the land, people and culture. Italy is an exciting country, producing all types of famous drops.
Discovering your perfect wine tasting in Italy experience
With so many options for wine tasting in Italy, where should you start? The country is a big producer of reds, whites and sparkling. You could choose your adventure based on region that you want to visit. Or choose the region based on the wines you want to taste.
Tuscany is obviously very famous, and to stay among the vineyards here is a real treat. We had the chance to visit Tuscany and its wineries a couple of years ago and highly recommend the experience. There’s so much to do though, we need to go back with a bigger and brighter plan!
This year we travelled through the Lombardy and Veneto producing regions. Take a look at the map linked above for more. In Verona we tried some delicious reds from around the region.
In Venice we went to a Prosecco tasting. Some were local blends and others came from Bologna.
We feel there are three simple ways you can discover wines on your trip to Italy.
Wineries are all over Italy, and a great way to get stuck into wine tasting here. Tuscany is a prime example, but you’ll need to know how you want to do it. We needed to drive a lot there, which isn’t ideal if you’re doing a lot of wine tasting in Italy. You can contact wineries in the regions you’re going to, to find out when they’re open and how to take part in tastings. Alternatively, you could search for bus tours (day trip or longer) that take in a number of options.
Destinations tourism websites often offer helpful advice as a first step. But do some research on blogs or YouTube to see if you can uncover smaller local offerings that will give you an even more unique experience.
Wine tasting in Italy at vineyards and wineries is a wonderful opportunity to get underneath the skin of the business. Many of these places are family run with centuries of history behind the land and brand. You learn about production and grape types, and will walk away with a true appreciation for wine production.
If you’re short on time but want a snapshot of the industry in a particular town, look out for short tours or tastings.
In Verona and Venice, Airbnb suggested inexpensive options that were wonderful for a few reasons:
We made new local friends and supported their businesses
They showed us around their back streets and to places we’d never have found on our own on a short break away
We tasted local wines and learnt about the place through the stories of our hosts.
Many local experiences are showing up like this now, if you ask around on TripAdvisor, search Viator, and read tourism websites, Facebook groups, or blogs.
On our travels through Italy I also spotted that many little boutique bars or wine stores offered their own tastings. Admittedly, our Prosecco tasting experience in Venice, while good value and served lovely food and drinks, wasn’t exactly personal. We wanted to learn more about the bubbles we were trying.
That said, plenty of options were on offer through Airbnb, and all over the place (as referenced above), or you could search a hashtag on Instagram for inspiration. Our Prosecco experience was still enjoyable, and it’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
These simple tastings are great because they’re in the location where you area already, they’re usually good value for money, and you may even find a favourite boutique store or bar in the process.
Do you have questions, tips or advice on this subject? Let us know in the comments
There’s nothing quite like discovering a place through the eyes of a local. Everywhere in the world has its own culinary traditions and stories. Italy is of course, no exception.
Our week long trip in Italy this past April opened up a plethora of foodie delights we never knew existed. If we’d not found a guide to take us on a food tour (which usually included discovering local secret places too), we’d perhaps not have discovered:
– Aperitivo – the best Italian tradition you’ve never heard of! Start in Milan. For a set price you buy a drink like a cocktail and can indulge in a large buffet too! Read more
– Cichetti – like Spanish tapas, served at bacari, traditional bars, in Venice. Live like a local. Read more
– Italian coffee culture. Start your day drinking a macchiato standing at a bar in a coffee shop. Don’t sit down out the front, you’ll look like a tourist! Cappuccinos or lattes are for the morning only, never after lunch. An espresso is ok at any time of the day. Here’s a quick guide on your options
– Gelato – support local when in Italy. We discover in Italy how to keep the prices down and determine the difference between authentic and not-so… Read more
– Panzerotti (deep fried pizza dough) and the place you should queue up to taste it in Milan. Read more
Why do a walking tour? It’s easy, fun and you get to live like a local for a couple of hours. Not to mention, you can grill your walking and food tour host with any questions you like. Mostly you get an authentic experience that’s inexpensive, and you can find gems off the tourist trail. We took a walking food tour in Verona and Venice, both booked on Airbnb.
Learn to cook
One glance across experience promoters like Airbnb or Viator shows just how many cooking tours there are around the world now. Most mean you turn up to someone’s home, or a family restaurant’s kitchen, and spend a few hours learning (or honing) a skill. It might be pasta, desserts or a uniquely local cuisine you’re learning. Either way, what better opportunity do you have to learn about a new place?
The bonus of this type of experience is you’re usually supporting a local business. Win win!
One of our most popular blogs on Travel Live Learn is about pursuing creative travel experiences including this type of trip. Have a read here.
There’s plenty of this type of class or food tour on offer all over Italy. If you have any that you’d recommend, do please share details in the comments below.
Organised coach tours
If you’re fully committed to spending a few days discovering Italy through the eyes of food, there are coach tours available exclusively for this purpose. A simple search, ‘food tour Italy’ brings up a number of options. You might explore the regions we did, like Milan, Verona or Venice. Or, the famous Tuscan food and wine region. There are plenty of small towns that offer amazing insight into food and wine, and if you don’t have a car, a booking like this is the way to go to not miss anything important.
An organised tour takes the stress out of figuring out what to do and may include an itinerary of a few days. You don’t have to worry about driving or finding your way – just focus on what’s important. Your taste buds!
Other ways you can find a food tour in your country or region of choice, might be by searching for recommendations on Tripadvisor, YouTube or running a hashtag search on Instagram for #foodtour, for example.
We discovered the Brussels option on the destination’s tourism website, and our Italy experiences (including wine tastings, which you can read about here) popped up as recommendations alongside our Airbnb bookings.
Do you have tips or a personal example to share, or even questions? Let us know in the comments
When you think of the classic Romeo and Juliet setting, various images might pop into your mind. Perhaps you envision a vibrant and modern adaptation à la Baz Luhrmann. Or maybe your imagination is captivated by a stunning ballet rendition seen somewhere around the globe.
While I cherish every interpretation of this timeless tale (can’t forget Leo and Claire’s mesmerizing portrayal in 1996!), I invite you to join me in envisioning Verona as the quintessential Romeo and Juliet setting. This Italian city, steeped in romance and history, is where the love story of Shakespeare’s most famous characters unfolds.
In recent years, Verona has continually emerged in our travel conversations. Eventually, after countless recommendations from friends, we finally embarked on a journey to explore this historic city.
Verona, an effortlessly navigable city, is perfect for a romantic getaway or a more extended visit of three to four days. We seamlessly included Verona in our train trip itinerary, which started in Milan and concluded in Venice.
The city offers a myriad of attractions, striking the perfect balance between variety and manageability. At the heart of these is Juliet’s balcony in Verona, a symbolic site deeply intertwined with the Romeo and Juliet narrative.
Despite its touristy reputation, visiting Juliet’s balcony remains a sentimental highlight in Verona.
Romeo and Juliet Setting: Romantic Verona, Italy
If you, like me, are a devotee of William Shakespeare, Verona is not just a city but a pilgrimage to the original Romeo and Juliet setting. As we dive into 2024, it’s fascinating to consider how this city has maintained its Shakespearean charm.
Interestingly, Shakespeare set a third of his plays in Italy, with his most acclaimed works rooted in Verona, as well as in nearby Padua, Venice, and Rome. While it’s a mystery if Shakespeare ever visited Italy, his vivid depiction of these locales in his plays speaks volumes about his fascination with the country.
For those keen on exploring ‘Shakespeare’s Italy’, here are some resources updated for 2024:
Juliet’s Balcony in Verona, Italy: A Shakespearean Dream Come True
Juliet’s balcony in Verona remains a magnet for romance seekers worldwide. This picturesque spot, nestled in a quaint courtyard of a 14th-century residence purported to be Juliet’s house, is an experience straight out of a Shakespearean dream.
The location gained even more fame with the 2010 film Letters to Juliet and continues to be a highlight for visitors today. The tradition of the ‘Secretaries of Juliet’, responding to heartfelt letters in multiple languages, still thrives.
Juliet’s Balcony: The Heart of Romeo and Juliet’s Verona
Experiencing Juliet’s balcony is like stepping into the pages of Shakespeare’s play. For a small fee, you can ascend to the balcony, perhaps to recite a line from Romeo and Juliet or just to soak in the ambience. Don’t forget to bring a marker to leave your mark among the myriad love notes adorning the walls.
In pursuit of luck in love? Touching the right breast of Juliet’s statue beneath the balcony is said to bring good fortune in finding true love – a charming tradition that continues to captivate visitors.
Exploring Verona’s Rich Historical Tapestry
Verona, as we discovered, is much more than just the setting of Romeo and Juliet. The city, often described as a theatre with its hills resembling rows of seats, offers a myriad of historical and cultural experiences. The Adige River meanders through the city, connecting various parts through picturesque bridges and leading to the well-preserved old town, reminiscent of a scene from a Shakespearean play.
The charm of Juliet’s balcony in Verona is just one aspect of the city’s allure. Another highlight is the vibrant Piazza delle Erbe, Verona’s old town market square. This historically rich area, adorned with ancient frescoes and exquisite architecture, continues to be a hub for locals and tourists alike.
A Glimpse into Medieval Verona
The medieval walls of Verona, meticulously maintained through the centuries, offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past. They frame the market and dining area, creating a unique blend of historical significance and modern-day leisure.
Within the square, you’ll encounter the Venetian lion, a symbol of Venice’s past rule over the city. Looking up, you’re likely to spot the famous whale rib, suspended since at least the 1700s. According to legend, it will fall only when someone who has never told a lie walks beneath it – a tale that continues to captivate visitors.
Discovering the Best of Verona
The essence of Verona lies in its ability to blend the old with the new. Strolling around the city, you are likely to be drawn to the riverbank, where you can explore the numerous bridges, old churches, and hidden corners that echo the city’s history. We found that stepping out of the main parts of the old town offers a more authentic experience, with better deals on food and coffee. Crossing one of the bridges to explore what lies on the other side is an adventure in itself.
Verona’s Must-See Attractions
There’s no shortage of sites to explore in Verona. Some of the key attractions include:
Castel San Pietro, perched on a hill above the city, offering a mysterious yet inviting aura with its cypress-lined avenues and breathtaking views.
Piazza dei Signori, a serene square adorned with medieval arches and architecture.
Torre dei Lamberti, dating back to 1171, serves as a historical beacon in the city. In medieval times, its bell signaled various communal activities and emergencies.
Centro Storico, the shopping heart of Verona, where you can indulge in Italian fashion and other exquisite local products.
Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, renowned for its Romanesque architecture and the crypt where Romeo and Juliet were said to have married.
Juliet’s tomb, located in a 13th-century convent, a poignant site where visitors pay homage to the tragic heroine and Shakespeare himself.
Verona’s Living History: The Arena and Nightlife
A highlight that continues to amaze is the Verona Arena. This 1st-century Roman amphitheatre, extraordinarily well-preserved, hosts operas and concerts, offering a unique blend of historical grandeur and modern entertainment. It’s a place where history and present-day culture coalesce, providing an unforgettable experience.
Verona Travel Tips: Making the Most of Your Visit
As travellers in Verona, we discovered that the best way to experience this historic city is by immersing yourself in its local culture and history. A great tip for modern explorers is to book a guided tour, much like we did with ‘Wonderful Verona’.
This evening walking tour, led by a knowledgeable local guide, unveiled both popular and lesser-known gems of the city, enriched by tastings of local wines. These Verona travel tips from our guide, Jessica, significantly enhanced our understanding and appreciation of Verona’s unique charm
Our ‘dream loft’ Airbnb enhanced our stay, offering a stylish and cosy retreat after our daily excursions. It’s a testament to how local accommodations can add a unique flavour to your travel experience.
Engaging with Verona’s Nightlife and Cultural Scene
To truly capture the essence of Verona, especially after sunset, we recommend exploring its vibrant nightlife. The city, illuminated under the starlit sky, transforms into a romantic backdrop straight out of a Shakespearean play. The streets come alive with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the balmy evenings at quaint cafes and lively restaurants.
Concluding Thoughts on Verona: The Eternal City of Love
As we reflect on our journey through Verona, it’s clear that this city transcends time with its enduring charm. Whether you’re a Shakespeare enthusiast, a history buff, or simply in search of romantic escapades, Verona promises an experience that intertwines the past with the present, the mythical with the real.
If you have any questions or additional tips about exploring Verona, feel free to share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your experiences in this timeless city!
Got questions or a tip to add? Let us know in the comments below
I’ve always been enthralled by the ease and beauty of Italian train journeys. So when Cooper and I planned our trip to Italy, the Milan to Varenna train was a no-brainer for a day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio.
Let me guide you through how to make the most of this picturesque journey in 2024.
Why Take the Milan to Varenna Train Route to Lake Como?
Italy has always been a tapestry of cultural and scenic marvels. Our experience with the Milan to Varenna train route only adds to this rich fabric. Lake Como, a gem near Milan – Italy’s fashion and business hub – is an unmissable destination. Initially considering a pricey guided tour to Lake Como, we instead chose the more adventurous and budget-friendly train journey.
Choosing the train from Milan to Varenna was a decision driven by:
Ease of Travel: The trip from Milan Central Station to Varenna is a comfortable journey lasting just over an hour, making it the perfect choice for a day trip.
Flexibility and Accessibility: With trains departing as early as 6:20 AM and the last one at 9:20 PM, you have the freedom to plan your day as you like.
Charming Destination: Varenna, a quaint village nestled on the shores of Lake Como, is a sight to behold and a delight to explore.
How to Book and Board the Milan to Varenna Train
Booking our tickets was a breeze. We used Trenord’s efficient online service, which also offers an app to store your digital tickets. Departing from Milano Centrale, you’ll head to Varenna-Esino station. The modern rolling stock operated by Trenord ensures a smooth ride.
A little tip: Always book for specific times but don’t worry if you miss your train. The staff are accommodating and will usually let you board the next one. However, do give yourself extra time to navigate the stations as they can be a bit confusing with not-so-clear signage.
Varenna on Lake Como: A Serene Escape
Upon arriving at Varenna, you’re greeted with the tranquil beauty of Lake Como. This village is a perfect blend of picturesque landscapes and Italian charm. It’s just a five-minute walk from the Varenna train station to the heart of the village, making it an easily accessible spot for travellers.
Varenna, with its delightful alleyways and waterfront dining options, offers a peaceful escape from the hustle of Milan. Despite encountering a rainy day on our trip, the allure of Varenna, with its sweet winding paths and views of the lake, was undeniably charming.
Getting to Bellagio from Varenna
Often referred to as the ‘pearl of the lake’, Bellagio is a key highlight of any Lake Como itinerary. It is easily accessible from Varenna too. Our initial plan was to visit Bellagio, but the rain had other plans. So, we immersed ourselves in the beauty of Varenna instead. If you’re luckier with the weather, here’s how to get there:
Ferry Travel: The ferry from Varenna to Bellagio is not just a mode of transport, but a journey through the heart of Lake Como. For about €5 each way, the ferry offers frequent services, less so in winter, but still with enough options to fit your schedule. The ferry terminal, a mere five-minute walk from the Varenna train station, can’t be missed.
Bellagio’s Charm: Bellagio, with its cobbled lanes and elegant architecture, is a treat for the senses. It’s a place where you can experience the luxurious tranquillity of Lake Como in full.
Why Lake Como?
Lake Como, the third-largest lake in Italy’s lake district, is a 46 km long expanse of natural beauty. It’s a region where snow-capped mountains meet the mystique of a deep blue lake. Ferries glide between hills that rise like islands from the water, and colourful buildings huddle at the mountains’ base, interspersed with ancient church steeples.
The landscape here is like a living painting, with roads and rail tunnels carved into sheer rock cliffs. The waterfront is adorned with sculpted gardens, Roman statues, and water fountains, creating a serene and almost surreal atmosphere. The air is fresh, and the sense of peace is palpable. It’s a place that must be experienced to be truly understood and appreciated.
Visit Lake Como in a Day Trip from Milan
For those looking to explore beyond Varenna, Lake Como has much to offer in 2024. Here are some of the year’s unmissable experiences:
Hiking the Sentiero del Viandante: For nature lovers, this well-marked trail offers stunning landscapes and a unique adventure along the Lecco coast of the lake.
Tempio Voltiano: A must-visit in Como, this museum celebrates the work of Alessandro Volta and is a journey through scientific history and picturesque settings.
Exploring Varenna on a Day Trip from Milan to Lake Como
Varenna, nestled in the Lombardy region, is a jewel on the lake. With its picture-postcard beauty, this village is more than just a stop; it’s an experience. A five-minute walk from the train station leads you into its heart.
Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as the stairways in Varenna are long and steep. That said, every step is worth the stunning views you’ll encounter.
Despite our rainy day visit, the allure of Varenna remained undimmed. Its charming alleyways and waterfront dining provide a serene escape. Even under cloudy skies, the beauty of this place shines through making it a worthwhile destination in any weather.
Luxurious Moments in Bellagio and Beyond
While we embraced the quaint charm of Varenna, Bellagio is just a short ferry ride away and offers its own unique splendour. Known for its elegant atmosphere and luxurious vibe, Bellagio is a haven of cobbled lanes and sophisticated buildings. Bellagio remains a key destination on Lake Como, offering visitors a blend of natural beauty, history, and culture.
Villa Melzi Gardens: Explore the breath-taking botanical gardens of Villa Melzi for a small entrance fee, a testament to Bellagio’s lush beauty.
Basilica of St. Giacomo: Visit this 12th-century basilica, a historical and architectural marvel, embodying the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Italian Treats Abound
A trip to Italy is incomplete without savouring its culinary offerings. In Lake Como, this means indulging in the region’s specialty dishes and treats. Here are some must-try experiences:
Polenta: A staple of Lombardian cuisine, yellow polenta is a delicious dish you must try for an authentic taste of Como.
Michelin-Starred Dining: For a luxurious dining experience, visit Ristorante Sottovoce in Como, the only restaurant with a lakefront terrace on the roof, offering an exceptional culinary journey.
Embracing Luxury and Nature in Lake Como
Lake Como in 2024 is not just about serene landscapes and quaint villages. It is also a destination for luxury and nature. Here are some top experiences you shouldn’t miss:
Luxury Boat Rides: Experience the opulence of Lake Como with a luxury boat ride, a perfect choice for honeymooners or those seeking an exclusive experience.
Outdoor Activities: For a more active experience, take a stroll in the town of Menaggio, or enjoy sunbathing on the public beaches near Como.
A Glimpse into the Future: Sustainable Travel
As we continue our journeys, Cooper and I are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable travel. Lake Como and its surrounding regions are treasures that we must preserve for future generations. We encourage our fellow travellers to be mindful of your environmental impact, opt for eco-friendly accommodations, and support local businesses that practice sustainability.
Wrapping Up: The Timeless Beauty of Lake Como
Lake Como, with its blend of natural splendour, historical richness, and modern luxury, remains a timeless destination. Our journey on the Milan to Varenna train was just the beginning of a memorable adventure. We hope this guide inspires you to explore this magnificent region and create your own beautiful memories.
And remember, travel is not just about the destinations; it’s about the experiences, the people you meet, and the stories you create along the way.
Questions or comments…
I hope this updated guide helps clarify any queries or concerns you may have about undertaking a self-guided day trip on the train from Milan to Lake Como. Whether it’s the charm of Varenna or the elegance of Bellagio, Lake Como offers a tranquil glimpse into the beauty of Italy.
Despite our minor hiccups with rain and train timings, our day trip was close to perfect, filled with scenic views, delightful cuisine, and the serene ambiance of the lake.
On this week-long trip across Italy, we not only discovered the quaint charm of Varenna but also experienced so much more. We continued our exploration to Verona and Venice, embracing the diversity and beauty of Italy’s landscapes and culture. Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and stories from these attractive destinations.
We want to help you get your Venice facts in order. Is it magnificent and marvellous or hot and crowded? There’s facts you need to know about Venice before you go, which may make or break your visit. I was totally converted on my second trip. It’s why I want to highlight important travel Venice facts that will help you make the most of your experience.
Venice was our last stop on a self-guided train trip across Italy for one week, beginning in Milan. Our highlights included a day trip to Lake Como; rail to Verona and then to Venice. Click the links to read more about those destinations, and read on for more facts about Venice.
Travel Venice facts
5 facts for starters, about the city…
Venice is built on over 1 million wooden stakes.
There are 118 islands that make up Venice, linked by over 400 bridges (about 70 being private) over more than 170 canals.
In 1608, the Council of Ten approved wearing masks only during the Carnevale in February. Breaking this law meant enduring punishments that ranged from two years in prison to public beating and binding to the ‘pillar of shame’.
Sadly, Venice is sinking at the rate of 1 to 2mm per year.
The population of Venice has decreased from 120,000 to 60,000 in the last 50 years. Apparently Venice could be a ghost town by 2030 with only tourists visiting by day. A sad thought for Venetians, who perceive this level of tourism to be totally unsustainable. So, for us as the travellers, be grateful for the time in the city – seems a lot of sacrifice has taken place for us to enjoy it all.
The weather can be wet or hot, timing is important
If you can be flexible in your travel planning, the top travel Venice fact to work with is that the best times to go are April, May, June, September, and October.
Summer in Venice can be scorching. The first time we visited back in August 2011, we were tired from being on a non-stop tour and drained by the heat. April was near close to perfect though. Venice can also be very wet and flood. The flooding gets to the point where visitors need to buy Wellies (rubber boots). Even waiters in fancy restaurants need to, to get by serving customers seated outdoors.
It doesn’t really matter what time of year you go, Venice is a magnet for people. Main attractions like the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and along the Grand Canal are swarming with people – travellers, tour groups, cruise ship stop-over passengers – throughout the day.
During the famous Carnevale in February, the streets get so crowded that distances which would usually take ten minutes to walk might take up to an hour to reach. Our Airbnb experience walking tour guide, Roberto, told us that the city actually constructs lanes, so it’s one way walking to a certain destination, and one way back.
Find a good deal on Airbnb and stay centrally. We were just a couple of minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge. This meant we could get up and go exploring first thing in the morning. Not only was the light lovely, but we weren’t battling crowds to get from A to B.
Additionally, if you want to visit the museums, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to beat the queues.
Fab Venice fact – some great experiences are FREE
One of the best travel Venice facts that our Airbnb hosts shared with us was to do with the unmissable free view available from the top of Fondaco dei Tedeschi.
This historical building is situated on the Grand Canal, very close to the Rialto Bridge. It’s seen many uses including being used as a trading post for German merchants, a post office during Mussolini’s time, and a customs house under Napoleon.
Today it’s a luxury shopping mall, but at the top you can experience breathtaking rooftop views. It’s absolutely worthwhile, and it’s free, but you need to book your spot.
Venice facts: Gondola rides need-to-know
A gondola ride ranks highly on most travel bucket-lists, but it can turn out to be very expensive. Know before you go:
– A gondola ride costs around $90
– Typically lasts about 40 minutes
– Your Gondolier knows what they’re doing; they all have to pass extensive training to represent the industry in Venice
– Gondolas hold six people so you can share the ride and split the cost
– Sunset or night rides are spectacular, but you’ll pay more for that experience
– Avoid booking through an agency or hotel, you’re likely to pay extra fees
– Talk to the Gondolier about any requests you have for places to see, and consider skipping the crowded Grand Canal
– Wear sunscreen and a hat during the day.
Local water bus options offer cost-effective travel adventures
If a gondola ride is not within budget, try taking the #1 vaporetto down the Grand Canal instead. It’s like the local ferry and for just over €7!
To and from Santa Lucia train station, or the airport:
If you’re coming into Venice from Santa Lucia train station or the Marco Polo airport, be careful of people coming up to you offering to take you to the water taxi that goes into town. These are quite often private services that cost much more than the public ferries.
Look for route number 2 that does the journey between Santa Lucia railway station and St Mark’s Square, making only five stops including Rialto Bridge, where we got off to meet our Airbnb host.
The Alilaguna ferry will take you to and from Marco Polo airport. We got on near the Rialto Bridge and it cost about €15 one way, and the ride was just over an hour.
You will get lost
The streets of Venice are a maze, and you will get lost. But that’s absolutely fine. Don’t worry, just give yourself time to get places if you happen to have an appointment or need to meet a walking tour.
Google Maps led us into quite a few walls, so don’t rely on it. It’s helpful for finding general direction though, and recommendations on where to find a beer or food.
If the prospect of wandering the streets like a pro (and out of tourists’ way) is appealing, we’d highly recommend you engage a guide for a couple of hours. Roberto from Airbnb Experiences was excellent! His Walk, Eat and Drink in Venice tour took us through charming back streets we’d never have found, and showed us there’s much life away from St Mark’s Square. Contact him directly for details or to arrange a bespoke trip if you like.
Authentic dining options may be hard to spot
When in Venice you want to find yourself a local Bacari. This is a bar that serves wine and typical Venetian snacks. These snacks are referred to as cichetti, which generally means savoury snacks or small side dishes. We learnt more about this on our walking tour, referenced above.
A trip to Italy means eating gelato, especially if the weather is warm. But there’s plenty of inauthentic expensive tourist options you should avoid. It’s always good to support the genuine producers.
Basic rules of authentic gelato are:
Look for the gelato being stored in metal tubs, preferably with lids; plastic tubs are a no-no.
Quality gelato will not have vibrant colours because the aim is to make it with a high proportion of natural ingredients and very little (if any) added colouring.
If the ‘gelato’ is piled up high for display and doesn’t melt it means it’s high in vegetable fats and emulsifiers – it’s not the real deal.
Seasonal fruit flavours are a good sign, anything wild resembling Baskin & Robbins is probably not gelato, but something else, like ice-cream.
Not always, but for the most part, the real gelato is sold away from tourist hot-spots. We found a lovely authentic one in Verona that fits all the criteria here, and it was cheap, unlike rip-off options we’ve seen in Florence and Venice.
There’s much more to see
We’ve not had the chance to day-trip from Venice yet, but we plan to, which is why I’m linking ideas in here.
Let me know in the comments what else you’d recommend.
– The islands, including Murano and Burano, are apparently incredible. Have a read here for a summary on each, and why you should visit.
Travel in Venice: safety, packing and payment advice
Our final tips
Cash or card?
There’s a lot of markets and smaller vendors who require cash payments so do have some on you. Most places take cards though.
We felt safe, but always use common sense in crowded places. Thieves operate in these areas in all big cities. Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t carry things in your pockets, and don’t lose focus because you’re distracted by your phone! We’d suggest ignoring people who try to sell you things on the street too.
Pack light. The streets are old, you’ll walk a lot and the ferries are crowded. The last thing you’ll want is to be hauling a huge suitcase along! Shed your stuff, you won’t need half of it anyway.
Got questions or tips? Please do let us know in the comments below…
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