Visit Venice beyond mass tourism
The tourist city par excellence in Europe has always been Venice, Italy. Not only because of its unique canals and San Marcos Cathedral, but also because the city has devoted itself almost 100% to visitors. Fifty-two thousand people still live in a historic center that can reach 60,000 tourists a day in summer. However, there are still sustainable ways to visit its eternal beauty.
The town hall of Venice has launched a campaign, #EnjoyRespectVenezia, and wants to make visitors aware of being responsible and respectful of the landscape. It has produced a guide to 12 good practices, including the relocation of tourist flows and local products.
Even those who have never visited Venice know of world famous places in the city such as the Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s Square. But there is Venice beyond the crowds. One of the options is to visit the district of Dorsoduro, in the southwest of the city, which is full of museums, churches, traditional boats and workshops of masks and pottery. It is essential to have an aperitif with the Venetians in one of its bars between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. For many it will be better than a dinner, and different typical dishes can be tasted in small doses.
In the Cannaregio district, to the north of the city, the Venetian ghetto stands out. You can visit its five synagogues or the Hebrew museum. The Venice ghetto was the first in Europe and for three centuries, from 1516 to 1797, it was a closed area of the city and Jews could not live outside. Every afternoon, its inhabitants had to return to the district, which had two entrances, and remained locked up there until the following morning.
Surprisingly, Venice is not only a blue city, it is also green. The historic center has several public parks, such as the Biennale gardens and the Papadopoli Gardens, which are well worth a visit. Without forgetting the nearly 40 islands that surround the city and are part of an impressive natural park to the north, such as Burano, Torcello and Sant’Erasmo.
To the east, the islands of Lido and Pellestrina, beyond the beaches, also have nature reserves of ecological interest. Ca’Roman is an oasis full of dunes that transports you to a distant paradise. Back in Venice, on the other side of the Ponte della Libertà, which connects the city to the mainland, you can spend the day in San Giuliano Park: 700 hectares of fields, canals and excellent views of the Venetian lagoon.
The town is also full of shops selling local handicrafts. Just look for the label that certifies “Made in Italy” to make the experience authentic.
A visit is recommended during Carnival in February, when Venice becomes even more, if possible, a setting worthy of the best cinema. But for those who prefer to avoid the crowds, the best time is in spring, safe from flooding and the massive influx of tourists.