Visiting Venice in Winter
When our time in Barcelona came to an end, we decided to spend some time in Italy. Italy is my favorite place on the planet, and Josh is Italian, so we had to visit. We only had a week, so we settled on just visiting Venice and Rome.
Venice turned out to be a beautiful city and I hope to visit again, in the summer. It was still in the 70s in Barcelona, so we were expecting it to be warm in Venice. It was not. We arrived in Venice and were welcomed by frigid temperatures. I hate winter more than anything, but winter in Venice was enchanting. If you’re thinking about visiting, check out my pros and cons for visiting in the winter.
When we first arrived, by water taxi, we admired how beautiful the bridges and walkways were. The next day we were surprised to see a completely different site. Pretty much the entire city, except the very center, had flooded. We were later told that this happens every winter, between 5 and 15 times. We happened to see it during a particularly high flood, and it was beautiful!
The Venetians were well prepared and had temporary walkways set up. We had to be up pretty early, to meet a friend, and the walkways were already covering the city. And for those who didn’t want to navigate the narrow walkways, they can purchase high plastic booties. These could be found at every kiosk and tourist station.
Basically, its not something you’ll see everyday, but it sure is breathtaking when you do see it.
Literally the best thing in life, when you’re cold, is a hot beverage to keep your hands warm. As we traversed through the city, we came across multiple kiosks selling mulled wine, or hot wine. None of us had tried it before, but I don’t believe in saying “no” to wine. So we all stopped (a couple times) for a cup. My hands were extremely grateful for the warmth.
If you’ve tried mulled wine, you’ll know that its Christmas in a cup. The blend of spices in the wine instantly puts you in a merry mood. Well the alcohol probably contributes to that. But the wine is extremely flavorful and tastes like Christmas cookies with a hint of Christmas tree.
Gondola Ride Discounts
Visiting Venice and not taking a gondola ride is a waste of a visit. Have you ever seen a movie featuring Venice that doesn’t show a gondola ride? No. Riding through the canals and waterways on a gondola is a major highlight of visiting Venice. Its relaxing, beautiful, and a good way to see many sites you might not have.
That being said, a gondola ride can be very expensive. All the signs we passed showed ranges between 80 and 120 euros. At one point we paused on a bridge to admire a gondola passing beneath. A gondolier started chatting with us and offered us a ride at 60 euros, because business is slow in winter.
Winter isn’t the typical visiting season, so gondoliers don’t have as much work. Giving a discount certainly got our business! There were five of us, so we ended up only paying 12 euros, each, for a spectacular ride through the city.
Its actually a lie to say that there are no crowds. But there are very few crowds and pretty much no lines to get into any of the sites you want to see. I spend most of my travel time pretending I’m a local and avidly hating tourists. So visiting Venice when it wasn’t tourist season was so lovely. We were immediately seated at every restaurant, didn’t have to wait for the gondola ride, and didn’t have to fight other tourists for the perfect picture-taking spot.
Venice is an island, AKA surrounded by water on all sides. If you’re from a dry area (I grew up in the desert of Southern California), then you probably don’t know how humidity works. I’ve come to like humidity and I always feel so dry when I visit home, but humidity in the cold is the worst. For those who don’t know, humidity in winter feels like walking outside (in winter) naked and still wet from the shower. Its like a cocoon made of cold and wet.
As an island, Venice has a very high humidity level. I didn’t think to check the temperature but I can tell you that I have never been so cold. And I’ve lived in frigid Pennsylvania for the last 6 years, so I know cold. While I know the temperature was very low, it was the humidity that made Venice so bitterly cold.
Nothing Else. At All.
I sat here for 20 minutes trying to come up with something else to put in the “cons” section, but nothing came to mind. As I said before, Venice in winter is enchanting. I’m so glad I was able to experience it and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. I also recommend spending more time there than we did. A personal “con” for me was that we didn’t have enough time to participate in the many activities the city plans in the winter.
All in all, we had an excellent time and I can’t wait to visit again.