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My Venice GuideBook – by Saso Krumpak

La Serenissima, The Splendid one. Venice is arguably the world’s most unique of cities, And what a history it had. Founded by refugees from Attila the Hun and his warriors who descended to the many islands of the lagoon to save themselves from the fierce asian warriors. 

There they gradually developped this unsual city by linking it’s 117 little islands, divided by channals and linked together by 409 bridges linking channals. Venice grew so as to become the richest city of the world at one time. The port which dominated the Mediterranean, founded the voyages of Marko Polo and thus made the rediscovery of China by the Europeans.

No wonder and quite rightously it attracts modern pilgrims, the tourists from world over. They are coming from giant cruise ships, from nearby italy third busiest airport conveniently named Marco Polo or by land on the tours across Italy and Europe.

While the local population shrank considerably from it’s heyday around year 1600 when it counted 200.000 until today’s 60.000, the number of tourists grows almost exponentially.

I was fortunate enough to have lived all my live only two hours away from this splendid city, albeit in a different country, first called Yugoslavia and since 1991 Slovenia. So Venice was a natural place of both school excursion and family daily outings, as a student I was guiding groups through the city and because of my work went to meet hoteliers and other vendors numerous times, too. But lately I cherish it as a romantic escape with my wife and family mainly.

Lately often friends and clients asked me what to recommend them in the city, a kind of the out of the way spots and not so obvious suggestions. To them and you, our dear readers, I give my own address to this splendid city.
There is another reason for this. While I am truly amazed by the city and was certain that everybody who came here should aswell, I was first puzzled and confused to see my many friends and even our clients not sharing the same enthusiasm with me. It made me think about it. And I think I know why. I have seen dozens, even hundreds of itineraries and I know where most of the tourist groups do it wrong.

They come for half a day and thus join the procession walk from the train station or Tronchetto terminal or even from Basilea cruise port through one of the main veigns to the city, Lista de Spagna towards Rialto bridge and on to St. Mark’s Square. Here they align in the long queue of other victims of mass tourism to pay a visit to the Basillica of St. Mark or it’s dettached Bell tower, then they pass the Doge’s palace so as to see the Bridge of Sighs where Casanova was taken to the prison. 
And then usually they have some free time for shopping in the most expensive and touristy part of the city or maybe even test a coffee at Florian on St. Mark’s square, an iconic coffee place even if pricy and caught amongst the rest of big part of thousands of tourists that do the same. And then it’s time to return and join the procession, depending on the budget using vaporetto, the city local boat service, or private boats and taxis, if lucky via the Canal grande, the word’s most luxurious boulevard, if on a budget maybe only thru a more remote Guidecca channel or even by foot back to the original coach departure point.

These tours don’t really do justice to the city. Venice is at its best in the mornings, before the hordes of daily tourists arrive, when it’s still fresh and pretty, and later in the evening when they leave and the locals return to streets and it all calms down (until the next day at least). To really get at least a little bit closer to the city one needs to sleep in the Island, and not on the mainland, in Mestre, Marghera or even further away. Two (or more) nights are better then one, but even one makes the whole of the difference. Of course the hotels with over 90% average occupancy are more expensive and their is this luggage logistics to think of, but hey, you only live once and Venice is not like any other places you have or will ever come across.

I remember talking to Lodovico, my venetian friend and colleague who owns one of the best Vetteria, glass blowing manufactures on Murano island, how he doesn’t imagine living any other place then here, because all the other cities are so similar, while Venice is unique. His grandmother has never ever in her life seen a car, just imagine that!
So when you or your group have gained some more time to enjoy Venice, what else there is to do – apart from the obvious highlights that I mentioned above?

For artists and museum buffs answer is obvious: they have Galleria dell’ Accademia with venetians classics and Peggy Guggenheim museum featuring one of the best modern art collections, then there are many palaces showing regular works and fascinating exhibitions, then you have Scuola San Rocco with Tintoretto’s reply to Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine chappel of Rome and then there are dozens, not dozens, hundreds of churches, many of those feauturing prominent artists, like Tizian, Tiepolo, Carravaggio and even foreign ones, Van Dyck, Rubens and more and more. In it’s heights Venice aristocrats were comissioning pictures from all the best european painters and so the city is a vidid gallery where their works are on display. And not to forget is Venice Biennale, which brings countries from all the world to make powerful contemporary displays every second year (as the name suggests) in the greenestpart of the city, the Giardini and throughout the city.
For those who prefer shopping there is an abundance of oportunities, from souvenir hunts where murano glass and traditional carnival masks are the most precious local souvenirs, to regular clothes and jewellery shoppings where Venice has all the brands you can imagine, from the most prestigious nestled one next to another in the ….. street to more affordable shops along the walk from the train station towards Rialto. And not to forget maybe the most precious of them all, the numerous boutiques and local artisans displays scattered throughout the city.
From my point of view however the best way to discover Venice is to roam around seemingly without a plan, see where the path leads you, through the squares, called Campos or Piazzas and across numerous canals. You will come to many dead ends and will have to return but this is the fun of it.
However I understand well that in our daily life and with our tourists we can’t behave like that. So here let me try to give some ideas about how to make the most unique tour around Venice in a day. 

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