NOW HERE IS the thing. Venice, apart from a few, relatively new, hideous additions such as Cassa di Risparmio bank in Campo Manin, the grisly Hotel Daniele extension on the Riva degli Schiavoni and the truly ghastly Piazzale Roma parking area and bus station, is magnificently unspoilt.
So, if it is your first time in Venice, there is absolutely no need to get in a huge queue to gain access for the Basilica di San Marco or the Doge's Palace because they will both be there next time you choose to come. If you must go to one of them, book as early a morning secret tour of the Palazzo Ducale as possible, as the latter is known, through http://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/ . There is currently a tour in English at 10.45 and it is well worth doing as is a guided trip of 45 minutes up the clock tower, also in Piazza San Marco and also available to book online through visitmuve.it.
But, generally, if you want to get the most out of Venice try and get away from the crowds. I would not be seen dead in one of those groups with the bossy woman at the front holding her red umbrella as I want to explore Venice either alone or with my wife and armed with a couple of suitable reference books.
Another good reason for getting away from the most populated parts of the City is that food in restaurants, particularly around the Piazza, is either terrible or ridiculously expensive. It can also be both. So do feel free to shun those crazy queues outside the Basilica and go the next time you visit, with Winter the best time to get in or alternatively very early in the morning. You could always take in a Sunday mass too which doesn't allow you the freedom of movement but certainly gets you in without the Ben Hur like crowds of other tourists sweeping through the place.
I aim to try to get you away from the hordes and by the time we return many of them will be back at the boat to continue their cruise or at the railway station to head back to Lido di Jesolo having only had time to see the Piazza, the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge which is a bit like visiting London and only seeing Trafalguar Square and Westminster.
I would stress that this is not a guide for the day tripper because you are not even going to scratch the surface of this remarkable place in that time. I have been spending four to five days most years here for nearly 35 years and there are things that I still have not seen but I have seen a lot more than most. And that is what I want to share with you.
And given that Venice is not a cheap city, as everything has to be shifted by a trolley at some stage to get it into the shops, hotels and restaurants as you will hear as you walk down the narrow streets (calle), that roar of 'Attenzione' as a man tries to get his barrow past you, it is as well to do as much as possible that is free. That is the main thrust of this website.
I want you to be able to take children on a number of short walks and let them see things for free that will entertain them whilst you learn a few things about this fascinating city as well as places to stop for something decent to eat and drink. I am only just starting out on this Blog so it may look a little rough and ready to begin with but as time goes by I intend to tell you many more things that I hope will interest the entire family so please stick with it and do let me know what you think of my efforts and anything more you would like to find out about.
So 'Benvenuto in Venezia' and welcome to my Blog.