Top 10 Tourist Mistakes in Venice
(and some more)
Top 10 Tourist Mistakes in Venice. If you are about to visit Venice and do not plan to consult a guide or visit a tourist office, you can follow my very own personal advice on visiting this charming city avoiding bad experiences!
Venice has its own laws. Some are written, some others are simple rules which you should follow in sign of respect to this amazing place and its inhabitants.
Below are the most important things you should know as to avoid offending the locals or even getting a big fine – therefore spoiling a wonderful holiday!
UPDATE AUGUST 2017
The city of Venice has officially launch a campaign detailing clearly with signs what is forbidden in Venice. Please read the signs, they are everywhere!
Top 10 Tourist Mistakes in Venice
1- Throughout the city, and specifically in all the area of Saint Mark’s Square, it is forbidden to feed the birds (pigeons, seagulls and all the others).
There is the risk of getting a fine of over 500 Euro.
The pigeons, feared by millions of tourists for their air strikes 😉 , are also splintering and puncturing the dozens of marble statues in Piazza San Marco. They are causing enormous damage to the works of art of the Venetian square and the rest of the city.
So please, even though it might seem a nice and exciting experience, do not feed them.
2- You can not eat standing or walking in Saint Mark’s square, you will risk a big fine if you are spotted by some of the local police.
Venice City Council, in his eternal struggle to regulate the human tide that every day invades the city, has decided to prohibit drinking or eating in the square, unless you are sitting at one of the tables of the famous bars that overlook it.
Every day, in fact, the area of San Marco offer a depressing sight: wherever you look there are baskets full of everything, dirty bags and litter left behind in every corner.
On the other hand, the tens of thousands of daily visitors have only one goal: Piazza San Marco.
So please, respect the city and if you wish to have a picnic, just walk a few metres away from the square to the Giardini Imperiali, where you will be able to sit on benches and eat and drink at your pleasure in the shade of beautiful trees.
3- The gondola is the symbol of Venice, a fun and romantic way to get around the city.
But the expensive prices stop many tourists from taking a ride in a gondola, preferring the vaporetto lines. But a trip on a gondola cannot be compared to a ride on a crowded water-bus.
So, what are fair prices for a gondola ride in Venice?
First, the prices are listed in the brochure “A guest in Venice” (in the Tourist Offices), and are usually exposed in the moorings of the gondolas.
The official rates include a cost of 80 Euro for 30 minutes (100 Euro after 7pm). However, unfortunately many gondoliers often ask much higher rates, so make sure you ask before getting on board. Make sure to let them know you are aware of the rates and be ready to bargain.
In the off-season, especially in winter and autumn, you can get much better rates. To save money, you can choose to hop on a gondola and share it with other people (up to 6). The price is for the ride, not for the amount of people!
4- Whoever walks bare-chested through the streets of Venice will be fined.
Venice is not a seaside resort – even though it gets very hot in summer and it is by the water – you are not walking on the beach!
Also please remember, if you decide to enter into a church to explore its beautiful art, to cover your shoulders and knees and to always wear shoes (sandals and flip-flop are accepted too).
You don’t have to dress fashionably or wear your Sunday best, you just have to follow these simple requests.
Churches are often thought of as tourist attractions, but they are first and foremost sacred religious places where proper dress codes must be observed.
5- It is forbidden the use of bicycles, skate-boards, skates and the like in Venice.
You can not play football, basketball or any other sport with balls. Unless you are a small child, of course.
6- When traveling by vaporetto remember some simple rules:
- no smoking on boats or on docking stations.
- wait for you boat in the waiting area, do not go over the yellow line, to avoid causing obstruction.
- once on the vaporetto your luggage must be placed in the area near the captain cabin. If you carry a rucksack, make sure to put it down do not hold it on your shoulders. It is dangerous for you if you fall into the water (you will be dragged down to the bottom of the lagoon) and also for other passengers (you might knock someone over). It is also easy to get pick-pocketed if you hold your bag on your shoulder!
7- Beware of pickpockets. Keep your money in the front pocket of your trousers. Putting the money in your bag can be a risky move: in fact, a sharp knife can easily cut the strap holding the bag. Not to mention backpacks. Venice is not a dangerous city but pickpockets are all over the world and they are just waiting for your false move.
8- Remember that among the narrow streets and bridges pass many citizens and workers who have to get to their destination much more quickly than normal tourists.
Here are some simple rule that will avoid a classic shout from locals “va remengo” (go to hell):
- In the most crowded streets keep to the right thus leaving room for those coming from the opposite direction and those who want to overtake you.
- If you are in a group and you stop to admire some characteristic place or you are waiting for some fellow who got lost in the Venetian maze, remember to always leave room for people to pass.
- Do not rest on the steps of the busiest bridges (such as the Rialto Bridge) hampering the vital and hurried pedestrian traffic.
- Finally, a word of warning. Be very careful when you hear shouting “ocio ae gambe” (watch your legs), it means a cart is coming at high speed, probably full of merchandise and therefore it will be difficult to steer and brake.
9- Fake designer handbags.
Who does not dream of getting a nice brand bag for a fifth of its sales price?
African people will line the street of Venice with their fake merchandise, pushing them into your face and really insisting that you buy one. Don’t fall for it, don’t give in!
Remember, if you are caught buying a fake article, you will be fined heavily! So, keep the shopping for authorized stall sellers and shops!
10- And now we come to the offerings of the various illegal business promoters (those very friendly really well dressed nice looking people hanging around in Piazzale Roma, at the train station and in Saint Mark’s square).
These promoters look always very happy, at least when they meet you, asking you if you care to spend a morning or an afternoon on the island of Murano, the island of glass making.
They offer you a free ride in a taxi to the island, they show you the furnaces and how the masters work in the glass factory and then leave you in a room full of glass objects of all shapes. Should you buy from them (obviously paying a very high commission)? I leave it to you to decide.
11- Don’t Stick to the Main Streets!
Even though it is made up of a series of small islands, Venice has a surprisingly well-trodden main path that is nearly always crammed with people.
At first tourists follow Strada Nova, which runs from Santa Lucia train station to Rialto Bridge, and then from Rialto they zigzag to St. Marks Square.
The vast majority of visitors don’t stray from this path, mainly because they are on a short day trip and they just follow the signs, so most people come away from that experience assuming all of Venice is that crowded. Its not.
Even in the high summer season, you need only to step a few blocks away from the main thoroughfare to get away from the hoards of tourists.
12- My last recommendation is not to swim in the lagoon of Venice (and I am not referring to the Lido, which is a beautiful clean seaside resort, where you can take as many dips in the water as you like!).
I am talking about Venice itself.
I am only saying this: Venice does not have a sewage system!
So much of the waste from residential houses goes straight into the water. Therefore when you see those funny photos of tourists swimming in San Marco during acqua alta (high water), think twice before getting inspired on emulating them! You now know you would be swimming in water full of bacterias and rats!
Well, I hope these little suggestions might help you avoiding bad experiences in this incredible city. Buon soggiorno!0