I don't believe in open letters, but if I did, this would be my open letter to everyone to stop giving Venice such a bad rap. I was so psyched to spend a weekend in a city without cars after so much time in Rome, a beautiful but chaotic metropolis. There is a fairly constant cacophony of car horns and ambulance sirens gracing the streets of the Eternal City. The silence was one of the first things that struck me about Venice. Everyone knows that cars don't exist on the 'streets' of Venice, but it's an entirely different thing to experience it firsthand. I was spending the weekend with my best friend, Michaela, who has been dealing with me for about ten years, so I can't imagine she was too shocked when I texted her: "okay I know this sounds dumb but the ambulances are boats." Seemingly obvious and simultaneously incredible revelations about Venice are around every corner.
Some points from Rick Steves that I would highly recommend for anyone thinking about visiting Venice: you're on an island and can't get off! Take that opportunity to wander, get lost, and find yourself almost swimming in a canal. Another important thing to remember is that the vast majority of Venice is *not* touristy at all. More often than not, Michaela and I found ourselves on a completely empty bridge or street. While I would definitely recommend seeing the beautiful and famous St. Mark's Square, you have options to make your time there more pleasant. First and foremost, maybe wear a hat that you're not particularly fond of? There are roughly one zillion pigeons harassing tourists in the piazza. A second thing you can do in terms of pigeons is NOT FEED THEM. Thank you. Anyway, you can also reserve your spot for entering St. Mark's online for an additional 2 Euros. Michaela and I opted to take the elevator in the Campanile to enjoy the view from up high. We spent enough time in St. Mark's Square to see all the things to see, but preferred the side streets and back alleys that gave us a more representative experience in Venice.
With that being said, I implore you all to stop hating on Venice. No, it doesn't smell bad. No, it's not all tourists. It's beautiful in a rare way and to discover that beauty I suggest buying a cup of delicious hot wine from a standalone vendor, cupping it as your overlook one of Venice's many small canals, and eventually making your way around the incredible island. Cap off your day with a beautiful tour around the cemetery island and a stop by Murano, easily accessible by vaporetto. Eat a seafood dinner, enjoy a glass of prosecco, and think about how lucky you are to revel in the silence and age-old beauty of Venezia.