Venice is one of the most magical cities on the planet. Visiting Venice is like stepping back in time. It’s a different way of life. When it comes to Venice, seeing is believing. There’s nothing quite like it (unless of course you count the grand scale recreations of Venice at the Venetian in Las Vegas!). The experience of Venice will remain with you always.
“If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is – Venice is better.” - Fran Lebowitz
I lived in London from 2006 to 2008 and visited Venice as part of my ongoing obsession with Italy. The lure of cheap flights and delicious food quickly turned into a love affair with Bella Italia and I jumped at every opportunity to visit. I wasn’t concerned with when I went, I just wanted to go. So cheap flights to Venice in winter seemed like a no-brainer. It was a smart decision as there are some real benefits to visiting Venice in winter.
“In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain.” - Arbit Blatas
“Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.” - Henry James
There are far fewer tourists about. Forget the summer hoards of package tourists, cruisers and rowdy backpackers. You’ll have Venice largely to yourself. While the main tourist drawcards will still have some buzz it’s easy to wander off and find a quiet street, bridge and canal. Fewer tourists mean better photos. A grey and cloudy sky is so much more interesting to photograph the a bright blue sky.
Summer can make Venice unpleasant. The summer sun produces a stench from the canals – think of 500 years of sludge and slime, warming up and wafting towards your nostrils. Mosquitoes are also in abundance. Far more pleasant to take your Venice gondola ride without worrying about bug bites and odorous canals.
There’s no joy in getting lost in Venice in the heat of the midday sun. One of the best activities in Venice is to simply wander the streets aimlessly and get lost on purpose. A long and winding walk through Venice’s cobblestone streets is much more agreeable in the cooler months. The clickety clack of your winter boots on the cobblestone streets sounds wonderful.
Stopping for a lazy lunch and loading up on a pasta is much more appealing in the winter. Enjoy a plate of the Venetian specialty tagliatelle al nero di seppia - squid ink pasta.
Venice is expensive. There’s no getting around it but visiting Venice in winter can take at least some of the sting out of the cost of a basic pensionne.
But best of all…
Every now and then, an atmospheric mist will roll through which makes Venice in Winter feel completely other worldly. The mist can take your stroll through the street or your Venice gondola ride from ordinary to awfully romantic.
“…in November or December, in February or March, when the fog, la nebbia, settles upon the city like a marvelous monster, and you will have little trouble believing that things can appear and disappear in this labyrinthine city, or that time here could easily slip in its sprockets and take you, willingly or unwillingly, back.” - Erica Jong
What do you think about visiting Europe in the winter months? Do you long to spend hot summer days traipsing around piazzas,ruins and cathedrals? Or are you happy to rug up and tackle it in the cooler months?