On our first visit to Venice we decided that we would explore the main areas of the city on foot rather than take expensive water transport. We arrived from the airport at the Zattere quay and embarked on our 10 minute walk to our overnight hotel. We had printed off Google maps and directions so what could go wrong? Well if you have never been to Venice before, a lot! The first part was fine and then when the directions said turn right we looked at the tiny alleyway, the size of a door, that appeared to turn left behind some houses. That could not possibly be the route on the map, we thought, and carried on further. After about 30 minutes of trying to work out where the right turn was, we eventually retraced our steps and investigated the alley. Well, that was where we should have been all along and we soon found the hotel. After 5 days in Venice we finally got to grips with the maps and realised that the pathways they show may be as wide as a door, as wide as a footpath or as wide as a lane.
The main “roadways” of Venice are in fact the canals that meander and cross to provide a network to allow deliveries, waste collection and just getting from one place to another. This adds another interesting twist to walking in Venice as often footpaths end in dead ends against a canal. There are often traghetti available to ferry you across at a cost of 2 euros but if you want to walk, you have to negotiate the maze of tiny paths and bridges to get from one place to another. This is not such a bad thing as the paths often take you to the less touristy and picturesque places around the town and avoiding the flow of walking tourists around the station and St Mark’s Square. We found lovely markets and floating vegetable stalls, gondola makers and mask makers, the Ghetto, tiny cafes and lovely small shops. We got up early and were walking the tourist areas by 8.00. That way we saw St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge without the hoards of visitors . As the day moved on we headed to the less touristy areas, walking beside and over canals and cooling off every so often in one of the beautiful churches or museums.
By the end of our 6 days in Venice we were much more accomplished at reading the maps and finding our way on foot. We covered much of the city and definitely had rather sore feet at the end but it was worth it. Venice is a truly beautiful city to explore on foot.