In 1999, I went on a whirlwind trip around Italy through my high school. It was a very interesting trip and is what kicked off my love of travel. I mean, how could it not? It’s Italy after all!
The first weekend of our trip was in Rome/The Vatican. It was Easter Weekend, and it was quite a sight to see so many people on a religious pilgrimage. After seeing all the grand sites (and there are a lot of them) in this area, we traveled all over the rest of the country, including to my least favorite place – Venice.
I don’t care what you’ve heard about Venice and how amazing it is – I just didn’t like the place. Generally I like to write destination guides for my favorite places to tell you how good they are, but not this time. The following are five good reasons to steer clear of Venice.
1) Since smells can make a bigger impact on people than almost anything else in life, let’s start there. Try to imagine what Venice smells like…. garlic and basil? Hardly. Maybe you’re thinking it smells like the sea at least, with all it’s water? Not quite. It smells like diesel and garbage. All the boat-traffic means constant diesel fumes permeating the air, and the canals are also their sewer system. So unless you think the smell of a train-depot mixed with a septic tank is appealing, you might want to take this town off the itinerary.
2) Venice is a tourist magnet. Look up “tourist trap” on Virtual Tourist’s guide to Venice and it’ll show you a picture of the whole city. And the locals are a little tired of it all. This notion of grumpy locals who are sick of tourists cemented itself in my mind when our group was standing on the Bridge of Sighs and someone came barging through, pushing girls and boys aside and blowing a whistle. We asked our guide (after she finished yelling and waving her hands at him) if he was some form of Police Officer. Nope, just another one of the locals that was so sick of tourists they actually carry whistles on them to scare and trick people into getting out of their way. Not exactly a friendly welcome.
3) The pigeons are all over the city. Now, this might not sound so bad, but these pigeons are more annoying than seagulls. They’re quite a nuisance, and even when they’re not being annoying they still can ruin your day. The whole place is covered in pigeon guano, and you’re almost guaranteed to get some on you. Gross.
4) Traveling to a small city with a bazillion tourists means one thing – vendors. Everyone is jockeying for position on the streets to sell touristy crap to people just trying to enjoy their vacation. I don’t like it in Vegas, I don’t like it in Chicago, and I didn’t like it in Venice either. I like to avoid places that are too touristy just for this reason, and for me that means steering clear of Venice altogether.
5) High tides (acqua alta) are something that any coastal city has to deal with, but Venice’s have been getting worse and worse over the centuries. It sits on stone slabs that in turn sit on soil, and the soil has been sinking. To make matters even worse, the sea level around Venice has been rising as well. This combination has led to flooded streets anytime a decent storm blows up. And lets not forget that the canals are their sewer system. Not an ideal vacation when you’re walking through sewage-laden flooded streets.