It goes without saying that Venice is busier at this time year than any other time. People often say that it is difficult being a tourist in Venice because it is only with time that you discover, uncover and create your own experiences that are truly special. And whilst I agree with this to a certain degree, I also think there is a simple trick that can make a big difference – follow the sunlight.
For the sake of this article, we are going to slightly simplify the orientation of Venice.
Cannergio = North
Castello = East
Santa Croce= West
Whilst it’s not quite as simple as this it helps I find when first arriving to give a sense of orientation to a spinning head. As the sun rises in the East over the Lido, the following post is designed to be a rough itinerary of how to explore the city in all its light.
Venetians won’t even think about this anymore, but the movements of the city are governed a large part by the sun. Even the positioning of certain bars has been chosen to a large part because of the movements of the sun. In these winter days, when the light is limited, we often consciously or subconsciously orientate our meetings, walks to work and almost everything else around where we know there will be the sun.
This can be difficult to get right when you are only in Venice for a short time, so here is a short introduction into the solar movements that effect Venice.
During the morning when the sun is in the east, the LIDO is the best place to watch it gradually take authority in the sky. However, unless you are staying on the Lido, or are a particularly early riser, this may seem like a bit of stretch whilst you are on holiday.
Although you cannot see the sunrise fully from here, there are few places where you have a spectacular view and there is also an atmosphere which suits the morning, in my opinion.
Firstly, Fondamenta Nuova, walking along here on a bright morning is really special as you have the atmosphere of all the workers arriving in their boats, feeding the city. It is here that you really get an impression of the mechanics of a city like Venice. From here on a clear day, there is also one of the most wonderful views of the Dolomites, reminding you how close they really are.
A coffee shop near by:
Just before the hospital, if you cut in from the Fondamenta towards San Giovani e Paolo, you will see the welcome sign of ‘Rossa Salva’.
For an early start, it is nice to walk up towards the Punte Della Dogana (pictured above) and just admire as the sun arrives, hitting every point slowly and reflecting off the water.
From here you can retrace your steps and find somewhere warm for breakfast.
As the day moves forward, the Guidecca is laden with sunlight for only a short glorious while. It is worth catching, if possible a walk a long the Fondamenta if only to look back at the landscape of Venice.
Here one of the best unmissable places to eat is called ‘La Palanca’. An unpretentious trattoria that is only open for lunch. You can rely on the quality and the kindness of the people and the tartare is my personal recommendation here, but I don’t think you can go too far wrong with anything on the reassuringly moderate menu.
Afternoon light: you have been walking (in the sun) for most of the day now, you will be starting to move towards the ‘acceptable’ hours of aperitivo. At this point, you have a few options depending on your mood and what type of evening you imagine lies ahead of you.
For a more relaxed peaceful evening, it is well worth venturing towards San Elena, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet. Here you are likely to come across runners, locals walking their dogs, and couples stretched out on benches. You can look back at San Marco which seems strangely apart, as the light dips down.
To drink and for dinner: Via Garibaldi.
The ideal place between 15.00-19.00 is Fondamenta Ormesini/ Misericordia (pictured above). Here is the perfect example of how natural sunlight has impacted the cities design. Along the Fondamenta, there are now many bars of different sizes, but that cater predominantly towards the hours of aperitivo as a result of the lights tendency to bring people here during this time. Having said this, there are also a few really brilliant places to eat in this area too.
Evening: The Zattere, is a slightly more lively option, especially in Summer when live music can be found every Sunday at the Chiosk. However, here people move from the honest pursuits of the day into the slightly more adventurous plans for the night.
It is one of my favorite times to be here, when the natural light has just given way for the day, and the lamps spring into life. It is at this point, when there is a change in the tone of the voices around you, people begin to think in a different manner also.
Recommendations here: Schiavi for aperitivo