Known by many different monikers (City of Bridges, The Floating City, City of Canals, Queen of the Adriatic, and more), Venice, Italy is most definitely a cultural treasure chest. With over 100 small islands connected by bridges and alleyways, it's super easy (and DEFINITELY encouraged) to get lost inside the maze of canals.
The Rialto Bridge is one of the main attractions of the city, with little shops dotted along the center of it and a trove of tourists flooding to get photos of the gondola-littered Grand Canal. It's worth a visit, but be ready to wait in a "line" for any photo of the canal itself.
**TIP: For a slightly different perspective, with just as many gondola sightings and less foot traffic, grab a cheap bottle of wine and sit down on the sidewalks below the bridge. The lower perspective really connects you with the canals.**
With all the opulence around, it can be hard to see anything but dollar signs as you wander through the city. Are all restaurants this expensive? In short, most of them are. As we moseyed through the alleyways, we became more and more discouraged because it seemed the choices were sit-down (read: expensive) restaurants or pizza by the slice from a window, which we were discouraged from partaking in while we were in Naples (the birthplace of pizza). What we discovered was life changing: Cicchetti.
The equivalent of tapas in Spain, Cicchetti are small-bite snacks that are placed out in the windows of the Bàcari (the small wine bars you'll find these treats in). Initially made for men to snack on as they come home from a day of work, they're designed to help you put down an extra glass or two of Ombra (the local, inexpensive wine they serve). Strategically done, these can hold you over during your exploration of the city, and are a great way to experience one of the lesser known cultural traditions in Venice.
One more interesting point about Venice: it prides itself on free-to-access clean drinking water via fountains that can be found throughout the city. This is a godsend, especially in the brutal summer sun, and can save you unnecessary spending on bottled water and the subsequent pollution involved with it. Just carry a bottle around with you and fill it up anytime you see one of these fountains.
In a city with a rich and embattled history, Venice remains one of the classic architectural gems of Europe. You will not see everything in one, or even two, days, so we suggest carving a chunk of time out to truly explore the city. Discouraged by the prices of lodging inside the Historic Center (the islands)? Buses run from here to Venezia Mestre (the mainland) every 45 minutes or so, and there are a plethora of Airbnbs to be had at a significantly lower rate.