It was our anniversary last week; and Stu and I decided a couple of months ago to book a break away. We found some cheap flights to Venice; and as it’s on our (rather long) list of places we’d like to go, we went for it.
Finding a nice but reasonably low budget hotel, as we never really spend any time there, other than sleeping. Aside from this, arranging transport and parking we didn’t spend much at all.
We didn’t really know what to expect; and there wasn’t much in the way of planning; aside from booking a table at Hard Rock for our anniversary dinner; (we’ve been in both Prague and Paris; so it’s become a bit of a tradition!)
We checked out some blogs, vlogs and articles, and aware that autumn is not particularly busy, but there was risk of Acqua Alta (“High Water” as described locally, in which the water level rises above street level).
There are several places to find tips for breaks in Venice; we feel some things are exaggerated, and some underplayed a little; so here, before we begin:
Venice in Autumn – Our Tips.
- Google Maps (or whatever) is a lifesaver, but even using it, you WILL get lost; just go with it, it’s half the fun, and Venice isn’t exactly massive.
- Dress warm, we’re from the UK of course, so the temperature was pretty much on a par with home. Coat, scarf, gloves, boots, that kind of thing. And socks. Bring comfy shoes and socks… Unless it’s flooded; see below.
- Acqua Alta is underplayed everywhere; there are indeed risers, so you can walk across the platforms in common, busier areas. THEY ARE NOT EVERYWHERE! We ended up buying wellies on our first day. Acqua Alta occurs at high tide, but the high water can last a good couple of hours either side of this.
- You can buy disposable plastic boot/shoe covers, which we did initially; but they leaked and we were both lucky our shoes weren’t ruined. We wore wellies every day we were in Venice (Tuesday-Friday) if we had known; we would have taken some, but in fairness they do sell them. Disposable boot covers come up higher, but there is a risk of leaking, they cost €8-10 (euro) a pair. The wellies we bought were €20 each (and worth every penny!). You can buy almost everywhere.
Check out our trip to Disneyland Paris in this post.
- Venice has a flood alert system, with a siren, followed by tones. This will help you plan for your days if you are there between October and April. It’s quite scary the first time you hear it, as it’s an air-raid siren! The alert system runs in groups of 4, 1 tone 110cm, 2 tones 120cm, 3 tones 130cm and 4 tones 140+cm. This measurement is from the lowest point, so in reality is almost a metre higher than the actual water level you walk around in. You can hear it on YouTube etc.
- Food and drinks aren’t as expensive as some would lead you to believe. We found some great food and drink, both walking around through the day, and in the evenings; and it was reasonably priced, though of course much like anywhere; it’s worth looking around.
- As well as genuine Murano glass; many shops sell imitation pieces made in China, it is labelled. So check your souvenirs are genuine. This is the case for lace, paper and other Venetian products.
- Gondola prices are ridiculous, €80 for half an hour, more if you for some reason want them to sing to you! You can share with other people to split the cost; though then you aren’t guaranteed to sit together; we didn’t bother.
Our Break in Venice
We visited Venice, landing in Marco Polo airport on Monday evening. we took the water bus (or vaparetto), and walked a short distance from the stop on the grand canal, to our hotel. We stayed at the Domus Cavanis, which is overflow (across the street) for the Hotel Belle Arti, in the Dorsoduro area of Venice.
On the Monday evening, we simply explored the surrounding area, and found somewhere to eat, before heading to bed.
Tuesday, we got up and went for breakfast, we had no real clue about Acqua Alta, though we were soon going to find out. While we were eating, the tide rose. And our introduction to what this really meant took us by surprise.
I actually found it all very funny for about half an hour or so. We purchased some plastic shoe covers that came around knee high, and went off to explore Piazza San Marco, or St Marks Square. For reference, this was about a 15 minute walk in the dry. It was not dry.
By the time we got there, our plastic shoe coverings had failed. We soon after picked up some wellies, and feeling a bit wet, headed back to our room to drop off wet shoes, and have a bit of a break.
Soon after we headed out again, and visited the Rialto Bridge…
As well as doing all sorts of cliché, touristy things like eating pizza and gelato and taking a ton of photos.
Before heading back to San Marco. Now there was less water, it was truly beautiful, though we missed sunset, so planned to go back the next day. We went from there, to get some dinner. And I’d sensibly found a site with all the tide times, so I knew that high tide was approaching.
We were glad of the footwear purchase, when we could see people already splashing their way through the streets as the evening progressed. We got back to the hotel with no problems, other than about half a foot of water down the street we were staying in, which wasn’t an issue for us!
That night, November 12th 2019, Venice experienced the worst flooding in 50 years. We were told that afternoon that at this time of year, a foot or so was reasonably normal. The water that night was approximately 3 feet high on our street. Our room was on the second floor; and we headed down at one point to see it not far below the ground floor window, it was quite a sight!
The water that night rose to 187cm, just shy of the record high of 1966 where it reached 194cm.
The following morning, outside of our hotel, the water was so high, that at certain points it was above the top of my wellies, which for perspective, are about a foot high (12ins). Stu just made it across the street, as his came up a little higher than mine. In a very “me” moment, I removed shoes, and leggings (much to the amusement of a fellow tourist) and crossed barefoot and bare legged, fetching a towel, and re-dressing in the lobby of the hotel (I am all class)! I did get a small audience, and a kind lady sent me this photo, of me stepping into the hotel, so yes. There you go. Big thank you to her.
Apparently I said “It’s a bit cold.”; I said something far less reader-friendly half way across the street but apparently out of earshot. Suffice to say, I basically paddled in the Adriatic in November, and I don’t recommend it!
Bearing in mind, this is the worst flooding Venice has experienced in 50 years, I would have to express my admiration, as it did very much carry on! Although the basilica and bell tower were closed; and the tours to other islands weren’t running; so any plan for obvious touristy pursuits were abandoned!
We holed up in our room for a while to let the water level go down a little, before heading out (SO glad I took a travel kettle!)
We visited the very beautiful Santa Maria Della Salute,
Da Vinci in Venice
And found the Leonardo Da Vinci museum; at the Scoletta di San Rocco, as we were exploring, so headed in.
Focusing less on his famous artworks, and more on his inventions and anatomical drawings, It was a genuinely fun visit! The recreations of Da Vinci’s inventions were all interactive, and I very much enjoyed getting to play with everything! We even had a go at making a duodecedron!
After all that fun we of course had a rest; and checked off “try Spritz Aperol” (a little too bitter for my taste, but I’m glad I tried it!)
Piazza San Marco
We stopped for an early dinner, before revisiting Piazza San Marco, and taking some pretty photos at sunset!
And of course the Bridge of Sighs.
On our third day, we barely paid attention to the water level; we were used to wellies! Though we did carry our “normal” shoes with us to change into once the water level lowered.
We decided to explore the areas of Venice we hadn’t seen, and by chance spotted a more modern celebrity painting…
We ventured to the Jewish Ghetto, and then on to Rio Dell’Arsenale in Castello,
with a bit of shopping in between, and a cheeky glass of prosecco!
The sun even made an appearance, which was a delight, as we walked along the edge of San Marco.
Before heading back to change for our anniversary dinner at the Hard Rock.
We had such a brilliant final whole day in Venice! I am staggered by how well everyone persevered through the disastrous flooding. I know it will take some time to wholly recover, but I genuinely hope it doesn’t put anyone off visiting!
Our final morning, after donning the wellies once more; heading for breakfast, we had a delightful(!) mile walk in very high water, even at 9am which was two hours before high-tide, to the busses and on to the airport. For those who are curious, the bus is faster and cheaper than the vaparetto, though I think everyone should travel by water bus at least once!
Looking back a couple of days later, we genuinely had a really great time and definitely recommend Venice as a place to visit!
Have you ever been to Venice? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet me! Other social media below.