RU Abroad with Justin: Venice


Venice: It’s Not Just Like the Movies

The one thing I can’t get over is that a 500 ml bottle of mineral water is twice as expensive as a litre of red wine. If I lived in Venice, I’d probably be drunk a solid 80% of the time, just to save money. It completely makes sense how relaxed the Italians are. Have a three hour lunch, because you wont be able to stand up straight afterwards anyways. Maybe things don’t get done quickly, but have no fear, they’ll get finished eventually.

Venice is surprisingly large. To be clear, there are actually two parts: Venizia is the floating island that probably originally comes to mind right off the bat, and Venice is the mainland residential/industrial section of the city. Basically, you only ever see Venizia in movies, so naturally it contains the majority of tourism for the entire city. This concentration of history makes Venizia a tourism hell. The streets form a labyrinth that trap you in, forcing you to get lost in-between all of the tourist shops and restaurants. Historically, the city was only ever accessed on foot by peasants, which means that the streets are pretty gnarly. The rich only ever have to see the city from the water, which is rather difficult to do on a student budget. To put things into perspective, a 30 minute gondola ride costs 80 euros (about $120 Canadian). So, just like the peasants from way back when, most of us are herded through the alleys, getting only the rare and smallest glimpses of the real city.


Staying with Locals

If you haven’t noticed, I’m not particularly fond of the overinflated tourism industry and don’t plan on returning until I can afford to see Venice from the canals. Maybe one day I can be the next George Clooney and get married in the fanciest hotel on the water. Until then, Venizia disappoints. However, we happened to stay with a family in Venice, which was one of the most pleasurable experiences of the city.

Have you ever heard of Airbnb? It’s actually pretty cool: you pretty much just crash at random peoples houses, facilitated by the app, for, usually, a fraction of the cost of hotels. I know it sounds sketchy, but it actually works really well. It turned out to be both cheaper and nicer than staying in a youth hostel in Venizia. Our host was a little Italian woman that could have been my grandmother. And she was just as sweet. If you’re ever in Venice, stay with Mariana and Roxan. Their house was in Mestre (a part of Venice, like Etobicoke or Scarborough to Toronto) which turned out to be a pleasant escape from the relentless 365 days a year tourism madness of the island. The 15 minute bus ride was definitely worth it. Just make sure you find your way off of Venizia before the evening, because once the busses stop running you’re stuck. This also happens to be the same time of day that the gondola rides go from 80 euros for half an hour, to 100 euros for 25 minutes. Supply and demand, eh?


The Perfection of Gelato

If there’s one thing that the Italians have perfected, it is without a doubt gelato. Yes, they make a mean pasta, but you don’t have to travel halfway across the world to get some. Gelato on the other hand… I have never had Gelato anywhere on earth as good as the gelato in Venice. Sorry, Distillery District, you don’t measure up. Regardless of the time of day, get some. Breakfast, brunch, pre-lunch, lunch, second lunch, dinner, it doesn’t matter. The stores make it fresh everyday and only serve perfection. If Mariana made gelato I don’t think I would have ever left Mestre.

Sure, Venizia is a little pricey, but that’s nothing a little ice-cream and wine can’t fix.