I’ve featured numerous places, from Amsterdam to Alappuzha, as the Venice of their respective countries. It’s a title certain cities have earned over the years for standing out as striking locations that fete tourists.
Albeit, I had never been to Venice. So, it wasn’t exactly surprising that I jumped on the opportunity to visit Venice – the real Venice – in Italy after my trip to Turin late last year. My only concern was that I was on a tight budget and had to flow my resources judiciously.
But that was all right (not!), as Venice is only one of the most expensive places to dine in Europe. Nevertheless, I soon came to be a lone warrior on a fact-finding mission to find out how to live in Venice for under 250 Euros (approximately RO120).
Let’s not bog down on the specifics, though, as Venice is truly one of those places that pampers you from head to toe – whether you’re stashed with cash or not. Situated in the northeast of Italy, Venice is formed across a group of 118 small islands.
But fret not, for all islands are linked by canals and bridges – of which there are 400 in total. Walking across the city is like taking a trip down memory lane, although it’s not as retro as, say, Turin. Still, you’ll stumble upon numerous historical monuments, like the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, brick-laden canals, tunnels and roads (best of luck if you’re driving a sports car), Piazza San Marco and the Museum of Music.
What’s better is that the people are amicable and easy to interact with, and – if you plan your trip right – you can also partake in some of the local festivals. Oh, and don’t forget: Venice is famous for its light gelato – which is a substitute for traditional ice cream.
The city is a great place to try out authentic Italian cuisine. Head to the Bacaro Quebrado restaurant, and the owner, an enthusiastic Italian, will make sure you leave with a smile on your face. And that, dear readers, is what Venice is all about.
My favourite place: It’s hard to pinpoint a place that stood out from the rest – so I won’t be naming one. But if you’re looking for a mesmerising experience, start your trip at the tallest building in Venice – Campanile. The 99m-tall building will give you a view of Venice like nothing else. It will also give you an idea about the places you want to visit, thereby making your trip easier and economical. If you’ve saved up for the trip, you can also take a trip down the grand canal in a Vaporetto (sea-ferry) or a gondola (boats). Keep in mind that the latter is expensive.
Highlights: Venice may be overrun by tourists but the overall atmosphere still stays. Despite the crowds, it’s one of the best places for a vacation. There’s no denying that Venice is still one of the most exotic locations on the planet. Some of the world’s most prized movies – like Casino Royale, Moonraker, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Italian Job – have all featured the city. Tourists from Oman will find Venice frigid: Summer temperatures hover around the 20°C mark while winter temperatures can be as low as -1°C.
Lowlights: It’s an expensive city and the local businesses certainly know how to extract every single Euro from
Souvenirs: The several tales from your experience will be the perfect souvenir for your friends and families. If that’s not enough, you can buy Murano glass, jewellery or traditional Venetian masks.
Getting there: You can take an Oman Air flight to Venice. But it will set you back about RO525… for a one way ticket (!) Alternatively, you can fly to Bologna and take a train – which will set you back RO3 – to Venice.
Where to stay: There are several casual lodges in Venice that will cost you about RO10 per night. Hotel Giovannina is a decent hotel that will only charge you RO6 per night.