Venice, Italy

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Venice Guide – Spend Less, Do More

Venice canal sunsetPicture this. You've spent a couple of days getting acquainted with Venice – taken the Gondola ride along the Grand Canal complete with your own singing gondolier (and snapped two dozen selfies with them), crossed the canal at the Rialto Bridge, wandered the Piazza San Marco, gotten lost in the Doge's Palace. You know that you need to experience as much of Venice as possible before it is permanently submerged as sea levels keep rising and the only experience of Venice the world will know is a hotel in Las Vegas.

When on a budget...

You often don't realise that there are many options, even in expensive Venice, that are free. While many churches in the city will charge an admission fee for their upkeep and maintenance costs, there are a few that are free to enter, instead requesting a voluntary donation depending on what you can afford. The famous St Mark's Basilica is one of them, if you don't mind queues and crowds. If you want something quieter, try Chiesa di San Vidal which doubles as a music venue at night or Santa Maria della Salute. These churches have some amazing collections of paintings and monuments by some of history's greats.

Instead of the same dinner routine...

Avoid the hordes and expensive options overlooking the Rialto Bridge and in Piazza San Marco. Instead, sample some cicheti at some of Venice's best tapa bars (but don't call them tapas in Venice). At only a fraction of the cost, the cuisine is not only the most authentic you can find but how the locals eat. The food is most often eaten standing up and instead of menus, you simply point to some options that you want to try.

And for dessert...

Venice canalsDon't be fooled by the bright colours and beautiful gelato stacked high with fresh fruit. The non-artisinal gelato is often piled high in the window as it is whipped and often pre-made offsite. The real good stuff is the artisinal gelato which is hand-made daily with the freshest ingredients and is usually found tucked away in the smaller streets of less crowded neighbourhoods. Try Gelateria Alaska in Santa Croce for some exotic flavours.

Visit the Murano glass shops on the Rialto Bridge...

Or take a water bus across the lagoon and visit Murano itself – it is the closest island to the city and the trip takes approximately twenty minutes. You'll not only save yourself the double or triple price markup, and avoid knock-offs made in China, you'll get to witness the creative process as glass makers melt and mold the glass into various artifacts. Most shops offer a tour of their artisan furnace.

Youve saved on accommodation...

So why not treat yourself to a performance of 'Venezia', and enjoy some of the city's finest storytelling. Witness the exquisite costuming and fairly priced drinks – you'll learn things about the city's history that you never would have imagined while having a good laugh. The Teatro San Gallo, where the show is staged, is conveniently located near the Piazza San Marco, which is much less crowded at night after the show. Best of all, the show is performed every night, so will fit easily into a busy schedule.

If you have a day or two (or even three) to spare and are looking forward to a change in pace why not hire a car and drive out to Verona, a must-visit, especially for lovers of Shakespeare.  Breathe in the unique feel of the place and appreciate the quaint red tiled roofs – experience your own Romeo and Juliet story, minus the end part. Some main attractions in Verona include the majestic Castelvecchio Bridge and the Basilica of San Zeno which was the model for all Romanesque structures built later in Verona. Legend also has it that Romeo and Juliet were married in the crypt.

Spend Less, Do More

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