Tag Archives: Travel Tips

Acqua Alta In Venice – Dealing With Venetian Floods

Acqua Alta (high water) is a term used in Venice for the high tide in the Adriatic Sea. The water levels reach the air maximum in the Venetian Lagoon, which in turn causes flooding in Venice. This usually happens outside of the Venetian tourist season, between September and April when the tides are strengthened by seasonal winds called Sirocco and Bora that blow along the Adriatic coast.

Venetian Lagoon is a large elongated body of water around 35 miles long and 6 miles wide, which is separated from Adriatic Sea by a sand bar cut by three passages: Lido, Malamocco, and Chioggia. During high tides the water from the sea comes into the Lagoon via these three passages, raising the Lagoon level, and afterwards it goes back out to the sea. These daily tides clean up Venetian canals allowing the water to circulate, and the city to survive without special sewer systems.

Acqua Alta at San Marco Square in Venice

There is a special scale of acqua alta levels developed just for measuring tides in Venice. At Punta della Dogana, Venice’s entrance to the Lagoon there is a hydrographic station, which regularly takes measurements. The zero point was defined in 1897 when measurements started. Add 31 to 43 inches to that and you get Venetian high tide. 44 to 55 inches above 0 is very high tide. And above 5 inches is extremely high tide.

The worst acqua alta was recorded in November of 1966, with an increase of 76 inches, and was devastating for the city and its inhabitants. While it was a relatively infrequent phenomenon in the nineteenth century, with about 10 instances a year, the frequency and severity of it increased last century to reach about 60 times a year. Some people think that is because Venice is quickly sinking, but this is not accurate. The pilings on which Venice stands sunk 10cm lower in the twentieth century due to the rise of industrial activity in the Lagoon and pumping out of the groundwater, which caused rapid compression of the layers of land on the bottom of the Lagoon, which holds the pilings. Once the government realized how this was affecting the city, groundwater pumping was stopped and now Venice sinks by less than a millimeter a year mostly due to natural geological reasons.

However, a bigger problem for the city is rising ocean levels due to climate change, and it is expected that increased speed of arctic ice melting will bring even more frequent and severe floods. Much scientific, environmental, and architectural thought went into trying to protect the city from this ongoing threat, resulting in much debate and finally in approval of a large scale very ambitious construction project dubbed MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechanical Module). The design involves 57 retractable floodgates that will be installed at the entrances from the Adriatic Sea into each of the three Lagoon inlets, which would rise once the water levels entering the Lagoon will reach dangerous levels and stop more water from coming in. Began back in 2003, the project has encountered multiple delays and budget issues, and is currently expected to be completed by June 2018.

Acqua Aklta on Venetian Street

The optimists hope that this will mark the end of infamous Venetian floods and the phenomenon of acqua alta and will ultimately prevent the destruction of Venice brought on by frequent inflows of saltwater. The pessimists worry that with the rising sea levels there is a good chance that the floodgates will stay closed for long stretches of time turning Venetian Lagoon into a marshy lake and creating dangerous pollution levels and a potential sanitation hazard in the Lagoon and the city.

Today when acqua alta hits, some lower lying areas of Venice, including its lowest point, piazza San Marco, end up under water and passage through the city becomes difficult. The city combats the issue by installing raised walkways in the most vulnerable areas, but mobility is limited limited to only a few routes. For Venetians life goes on even during most floods, and every Venetian owns a pair of special very tall rain boots, but tourists often opt for a lighter version to brave the watered streets. Produced by company called Goldon, they look like yellow plastic covers which are worn above regular shoes and are light, easy to carry, and surprisingly effective at keeping feet dry and letting you explore the city during acqua alta.

Dealing with flooding in Venice

If you happen to experience acqua alta in Venice, take it in stride. Buy the plastic boot covers or rain boots and continue to enjoy the city’s special ambiance and this unique experience that you will not soon forget.


Highlights Of The Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum is a major tourist attraction on Venetian island of Murano, and one that uniquely represents the rich history of glassmaking present on the small Venetian island. Many tourists wish to visit the museum, and rightly so, as the large venue houses historical artifacts and beautiful displays that are unique to Murano.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions open to tourists, and those who purchase tickets are granted admission to the majority of the museum, including any special or seasonal shows. The museum was renovated recently, and the building itself is almost as beautiful as the treasures kept within it. Below, we detail some of the highlights of the Murano Glass Museum, that stand out amongst all of the stunning exhibitions.

Murano Glass Museum Permanent Exposition

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Top 5 Things To See And Do On Murano Island

While Venice is a beautiful and wonderfully diverse city, it’s also rather small. After a number of days spent wondering through the stunning corridors that crisscross the the city and admiring art, you may feel inclined to visit one of the smaller islands that surround Venice, such as Murano, Burano, or Torcello.

Of course we can’t be impartial when it comes to choosing a Venetian island to visit, and we wholeheartedly recommend Murano – the home of the most beautiful glassware in the world and the place to experience true Venetian lifestyle of the bygone era. Murano is a tiny island in the Venetian lagoon, just north of Venice proper. Renowned for its glassmaking tradition, the island boasts a population of 5,000 people, many of whom are direct descendants of famous glassmaking families.

The island is rich with culture and tradition, and was once used as a refuge for Venetian glass-makers, who were forced by governmental officials to leave the city of Venice in the 1291 and establish their furnaces on Murano. For lovers of art, history, fine craftsmanship, or simply for breathtaking views- Murano is definitely a location to consider. here we give you the scoop on the top 5 things to do on Murano island. And, what’s great, you can actually do all of this in one day and still have time left for a nice dinner either right here on Murano or in Venice, a short vaporetto ride away.

Murano Canal

1. Take a Walk Around Town

The island of Murano consists of 7 individual islands linked together by beautiful bridges. While this sounds overwhelming, the whole island actually measures a mere 1 mile, which is easily walkable in 20 minutes.

Much like the city of Venice, Murano has a ‘Canale Grande’ (Grand Canal) that runs down the centre, and separates rows of mirrored buildings. The main and arguably most impressive building on the island is the municipal building, called ‘Palazzo Da Mula’. This dates back to the 13th century, and features a characteristically gothic facade, popular in Venetian architecture. The canals, coupled with the island’s three remaining churches, in addition to the beautiful buildings- are reasons enough to take a walking tour of Murano.
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5 Little-Known Attractions To See In Venice

5 Little-Known Attractions In Venice Not To Miss

5 Little-Known Attractions To See In Venice
When it comes to organizing a trip to Venice, the itineraries are full of famous attractions that appear on every travel advice web-site and every must-see list you will ever come across. Among those are The Doge’s palace, and Basilica San Marco, Accademia Gallery and Ca’ Rezzonico, The Campanile and The Astronomical Clock. Hunting for those top attractions, you will stand in lines for hours and run into crowds of tourists who are all hungry to see the same things you came to see. This may leave you aggravated, distressed, and wondering what you may have done better to have more authentic venetian experience. You need not worry – we will let you in on the hidden secrets, the activities that many miss, the attractions that are still relatively quiet, not overrun with tourists, and promise a wonderful authentic experience.

1. Get To Know Venice’s Craftsmanship: Gondola Building Workshop

Gondola Workshop Venice

Get to know one of the few remaining gondola yards in Venice. Just a few steps down the canal near the Accademia Bridge, one can find Venice’s only remaining original gondola-building and maintainance yard, the Squero San Trovaso workshop. Nowadays it works mainly as a maintenance and repair point, but during the 1600’s it was Venice’s busiest production point for the ten thousand gondolas that once traveled along its canals and into the Lagoon. The squero is not open to the public but if you visit during the working hours you can see the work from the outside, and it is a fascinating experience. Each gondola is made out of eight different types of wood, exactly as it was hundreds of years ago, and includes lots of exclusively carved elements. Because gondolas are still crafted in a traditional way, it takes over a month to build one, and it usually can be in service for about 15 years, after which it must be refinished and can last another ten years. There are woodcarving workshops that create various wooden parts for gondolas and are very interesting to visit to see this ancient craft in action. The workshop of Paolo Brandolisio a few steps behind Piazza San Marco is a great one to visit. There are several guided tours for visitors, like the two hour Oltrex tour starting from Riva degli Schiavoni, or the one day experience Venice for Children, that encompasses a whole seminar on gondola making and a tour on vaporetto through the Arsenale and the Naval Museum. After getting to know this craft better, one will never see a gondola the same way again, for they are unique custom made vessels with centuries of history and craftsmanship, and not one is identical to another.

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Travel Tips for Eating Out in Venice: Where To Eat Like A Local

As exquisite, fresh and wholesome as Venetian cuisine may be, it is unfortunate that many travelers report unpleasant experiences of being ripped off or having bland meals when eating out in Venice. Figuring out where to eat in Venice can easily become a tourist trap for eager visitors who go looking for the most stereotypical meals, and in return get low quality dishes at grossly inflated costs. Venetian cuisine dominated by abundance of seafood is not what travelers typically associate with Italy, yet it is incredibly tasty if you happen to run into the right place. Good coffee can absolutely be enjoyed outside of Piazza San Marco’s expensive restaurants, and freshest seafood you ever tasted can be found in many unassuming local eateries called osterie.

The first and best tip is to avoid any “tourist menus” as they have limited food choices, often not of the freshest kind, and dishes that aim to please tourists en masse rather than offer authentic local experience. These kinds of menus in restaurants situated in crowded touristic areas just concentrate on one-time tourist crowds that will most likely never come back, and therefore pay less attention to quality and exclusivity. It is easy to recognize these places: they all have explicit pictures of every dish, waiters in bow ties loudly inviting customers to come in, and frequently no Italians inside.
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Venice Through The Year: The Tourist Guide to Visiting Venice In Any Season

When it comes to planning a trip to Venice, there is a seemingly simple question that needs to be answered first: when is the best time to visit Venice? Needless to say, Venice is always a beautiful place full of infinite charm, yet in different seasons the city can be appreciated in unique ways.Luckily, Venice offers marvelous sights, tourist attractions and joyful festivals throughout the whole year. As it is well known, the summer months are the most expensive when it comes to accommodation and flights, long lines are usual at tourist attractions and the heat in July and August can be rather exhausting. On the other hand, the winter months offer a magical experience, if you are up for romantic albeit chilly walks through the deserted alleys of the city. One thing, however, must be remembered when planning a visit to Venice: all moving around is done by foot, or by taking a ride, most often in vaporetto (Venetian water bus). Continue reading

What NOT To Do in Venice – Top Five Tips for Better Travel

Venice is a gorgeous city, but to feel its beauty among the crowds which fill Venice from April to October is not an easy task. The Venetians, whose number is dropping every year, also get tired of the crowds and can sometimes be a little grumpy or impatient, not to mention the high prices they tend to charge in restaurants, bars, stores, and hotels. Therefore, to have a good time when visiting Venice and to leave with nothing but the best impressions you would need to do your research and prepare for the trip ahead of time. There are tons of resources on- and off-line on visiting Venice, but most of them focus on the things you need to do in the city. We, on the other hand, decided to give you a no-less-useful guide on what NOT to do in Venice. Read our tips, memorize them, and you will surely avoid more than a few pitfalls that await a clueless visitor to Venice.

1. Do not spend your hard-earned cash on a Gondola trip

Gondola in Venice, Italy
Sure, the gondolas are beautiful, romantic and one of the top things we associate with Venice. So why not have a great $100 trip along the canals (of course, if you can afford it)? Well, in the recent decades gondolas have become extremely commercialized. While there is still no better way of seeing Venice than from water, spending so much cash on gondolas is simply not the best idea. Oftentimes the gondoliers are not the smiling easy-going types you have imagined. They may not have the best voices and if they sing you something it’s likely not a local Venetian song but rather a famous Neapolitan cliché like “O Sole Mio”. The gondolas nowadays are packed with camera-toting foreign tourists, not the romantic lovers of the bygone days. A fairly short trip along the canals, a large part of which will be spent getting out of multiple gondola traffic jams, will cost you no less than $80 during the day and even more in the evening. The gondolier will likely only tell you a couple of words about some of the most famous buildings, nothing that could amount to a “tour” they may have sold you.

Instead, go to one of several Traghetto stops and cross the Grand Canal in an authentic Venetian Gondola for mere pennies! Traghetto is a no-frills real gondola that carries passengers between the picturesque banks of the Grand Canal in places where there are no bridges. It’s the transport frequently used by Venetians who often catch a traghetto to do their daily shopping or return home with the bags of produce. Venetians typically stand in the traghetto, but you can sit and take in the gorgeous sights – no one will frown. The best routes are between the Fish Market near Rialto to Santa Sofia and from Punta della Dogana to Piazza San Marco. Continue reading


Insider Tips for Travel to Venice

Panorama of Venice

When it comes to visiting Venice, our favorite city in the world, you can count on GlassOfVenice.com for some good unbiased advice. Unlike the travel agencies, whose recommendations always try to sway you toward using their services, we just want you to enjoy this amazing city and keep it in your heart long after your trip is over. Having been to Venice many times, we criss-crossed it leaving no corner unchecked, visited the attractions on and off the beaten path, stayed at various hotels and apartments, ate at all kinds of restaurants and cooked ourselves, befriended the locals, and connected with the city of our dreams on a whole different level. Now we are happy to share our knowledge and experience with all current and future Venice fans. After thinking long and hard we selected 10 best recommendations for Venice visitors. Here are the first five. Look for more in our next post, coming up soon.

1. Come Off-Season

Venice is beautiful any time of the year, but most people visit it in the Summer when it’s warm enough to roam around all day and dine at the outside tables at pretty canal-side restaurants. So what’s not to like about the Summer in Venice? Well, for one it’s the crowds. You will feel suffocated moving with the huge crowds through narrow alleyways and little bridges, not to mention trying to board the vaporettos. The best restaurants (and even the mediocre ones) will be perpetually full making that coveted canal-side dining an unreachable dream. The hotels will be fully booked and expensive, just like the flights, and the heat and humidity of the Summer will have you gasping for air well before mid-day. So heed our advice and head to Venice in the shoulder season (May or September), or better yet, visit in March-April or October. The flights will be much less expensive, the city will not be overrun by tourists and you will be able to enjoy it in a leisurely fashion and take away wonderful memories of a relaxing time in an enchanted place.

2. Stay in an Apartment

Stay in an Apartment in Venice
Venice has over a thousand hotels, but they get booked up very quickly, especially in high season (see point 1 above), and even middle-of-the-road Venetian hotels are quite expensive. Instead of going through the stress of finding a good central hotel at the right price and getting a tiny impersonal room (if you are lucky), we suggest you try an apartment rental instead. Your own apartment in Venice may sound like it is a hassle, but have no fear. We promise that it will actually be an amazing experience, which will let you feel at home in Venice and explore it like locals do. There are many good websites offering apartment rentals where you can specify the time period, see apartment offers complete with photos and maps, and directly contact the owners (many of whom speak English). Homelidays is one such company the services of which we’ve used in the past to get connected with apartment owners in Venice.

3. Avoid Dining near Main Tourist Attractions

Restaurant in Venice
Venice has an incredible variety of dining options, including Michelin star-rated restaurants, low-key family-run osteria’s, trendy bar-style eateries, traditional trattorias, and of course lots of pizzerias on every corner. However, far from making life easy for a hungry traveler, this mind-boggling restaurant scene makes a visitor confused and either looking for direction or settling for the first place they see. It is, of course, best to research ahead of time and seek reviews and recommendations on such sites as Tripadvisor, but if you haven’t, here are a few simple rules to live by when it comes to dining in Venice. Avoid restaurants located near main tourist attractions. It is a bit difficult in Venice, where some feel the entire city is a tourist attraction, but at least try to avoid the area near San Marco and the Grand Canal, Rialto, restaurants on the main piazza’s, near museums, and (with few exceptions) restaurants with canal-side seating. Also avoid the immediate vicinity of the train station, and any traffic-heavy streets where massive crowds move between San Marco, Rialto and the train station. The restaurants located in these areas are usually expensive and offer inferior food, counting on the unadventurous traveler or those unwilling to move away from the beaten path.

4. Visit Rialto Market

Rialto Market in Venice
Amid hundreds of Venetian attractions, most of them several centuries old, it is easy to overlook the more mundane places that are essential to Venetians’ everyday lives. One such place is Rilato Market. However, Rialto Market deserves its own chapter in the book of Venetian history and attractions, and it really is anything but mundane. The Market, one of the oldest in the world, was established in 1097, and in the 12th century the first Rialto bridge was built to make access to the Rialto market easier for pedestrians from all over the town. The market served both retail and wholesale clientele and became famous far beyond Venice. Today Rialto is still a big busy market, with the daily Erberia (green market), and the Pescheria (fish market) visited by many Venetians every day. But beyond offering something for dinner to Venetians, the Rialto is a wonderful experience for a tourist and deserves a close look. Visit Rialto in the morning to witness this ancient Market come alive with merchants praising their goods to discerning buyers. Lively, bustling, and always busy, Rialto is Venice’s beating heart. A stop at the Rialto is a must to feel the soul of Venice, and understand that the city, defying all cries about it dying a slow death, is alive and well.

5. Check Out Gallerie dell’Accademia Museum

Canaletto Paintings are found in Gallerie dell'Accademia
Ever wonder what Venice looked like 500 years ago? There is a place where you can see just that! One of the best Italian museums, Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia is the place to see the masterpieces of the Venetian painters from the 14th to the 18th century and to enjoy the world’s best collection of Venice views from the middle ages. Standing in front of Canaletto’s paintings depicting familiar places in Venice, you will be tempted to play the game of “find ten differences” between Venice of centuries ago and the city of today. You will try hard and only find a few. After the initial amazement has passed, spend some time in front of the world-famous paintings by Paolo Veneziano, Tiepolo, Bellini, and Titian, which will make the visit to this gem of a museum the highlight of your Venetian trip.

6. Make an outing to Teatro La Fenice

La Fenice Venice Opera House
When you tell your friends that you are going to Venice you will often hear advice to visit San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, famous museums and wonderful restaurants. But there is more to Venice. Far from simply being an open-air museum and a culinary heaven, Venice is a living breathing city offering much more than its streets, canals and restaurants to the curious tourist. For centuries Venice has been famous around the world as an important cultural and artistic center, continuously innovating and discovering new creative frontiers, be it in painting, architecture, artisanal forms, or theater. The latter flourished in Venice thanks to the rich heritage of Roman religious festivals through advent of Venetian Carnival and unique theater forms, such as Commedia del Arte and Grand Opera, and became favorite pastime of Venetians and enlightened tourists alike in the last 300 plus years. Take an evening to witness the magic of Venetian theater at one of the most famous opera houses in the world- Teatro la Fenice (translated as Phoenix), which, like the mythical Phoenix Bird rose from the ashes of three fires, which ruthlessly burnt it to the ground in 220 years of its existence. As you will see when you step into this opulent gem of a theater and hear the opera divas on stage, La Fenice offers not just a fine operatic production but a unique Venetian experience and an enchanted evening that you will not soon forget.
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Finally, a perfect way to learn about Murano glass and experience its magic!

Numerous times on various travel websites, forums, and blogs, including ours, travelers to Venice ask the question of whether and how to see a demo of Murano glass making without wasting precious time in Venice and experiencing an annoying sales pitch. GlassOfVenice is happy to report that finally there is a way for most people to learn more about this fascinating art and experience it first-hand in the studio of a famous Murano maestro at very reasonable cost and without being pushed into buying anything. This definitely makes it worthwhile to make a trip to Murano and see the world of artistic glass making with your own eyes.

The Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and Murano Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro) together with Abate Zanetti Murano Glass School present GLASS IN ACTION, a comprehensive overview of the ages of Murano glass history. This one-of-a-kind begins with a guided tour of Murano Glass Museum, which has on display a unique and extensive collection of glassware from ancient Rome through Murano glass of the Renaissance period to modernity. After that it’s on to the Murano Glass School, for a glass working demonstration with an accomplished Murano glass maestro, and the viewing of a documentary film.

Use this unique opportunity to learn more about Murano glass at its birthplace and get enchanted by the birth of glass from the magic of fire and the skill of an artist. The cost of the entire program is just 15 euro per person, and it runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. English tours start at 2:30pm at the Murano Glass Museum (Fondamenta Giustinian 8, 30121 Murano, Italy).

Learn more about this program at the Murano Glass Museum’s website.

Learn more about Murano glass and its history at GlassOfVenice – About Murano Glass