For my 25th birthday, I returned to the wonderful city of Venice.
I was a senior in college the last time I visited Venice. I spent two incredible lazy summer weeks there with my best friend — and like most college students on a euro trip, we couldn’t afford
much anything. We divided the time between two hostels and had an impressively balanced diet of cappuccino, pistachio-flavored gelato and margarita pizza. Afternoons were spent napping. The rest of the day spent at Lido beach (where I received the most horrifying sunburn off my life). The nights were reserved for cooling off along the grand canal, our feet dipped in the gentle gondola waves of the Adriatic sea.
My heart was elated to discover the city was exactly the same. The only difference is the season; winter gave me the opportunity to explore the winding streets alongside locals and enjoy the icy air of a Venetian morning. This trip I sought to explore and absorb local Venetian life rather than the touristy college experience — and that I did.
The love for my Italian heritage grows daily. I’m so excited to use The Western Charm of sharing this beloved culture with you.
Here are my 5 tips for experiencing Venice like a local.
Life is an occasion for Venetians, so best dress like it.
In Italy, fashion is important but what I find most refreshing is Italian women aren’t slaves to fashion. During winter, the most timeless accessory in northern Italy is undoubtedly the fur hat (I went for faux). Invest in a good quality one and it will last you many Italian winters to come. And of course, when you aren’t dressed conspicuously as a tourist, Venetians seem to appreciate your fashion efforts.
Nothing beats an authentic Italian cappuccino — but they aren’t so easy to find in a touristy city like Venice. The rule for finding the most authentic food in Venice is to check the price of a cafe or restaurant’s cappuccino. If it is under €2, it’s probably a place where a local would eat or drink. If it is over that (a cappuccino in Piazza San Marco will cost around €5), keep searching.
Restaurant recommendation: We visited Birreira Forst nearly every morning and afternoon of our trip. They had the best cappuccini and oh-so-satisfying sandwiches with a variety of Italian cold cuts — prosciutto, salami, mortadella and everything in between. This light but delicious start to our day was simply perfetto. There are always a handful of locals inside this tiny gem, so the orchestra of Italian chatter makes this spot a perfect and relaxing Venetian experience.
Around 4PM onwards is totally appropriate Aperol Spritz time (or as I call it, Spritz o’clock).
My favorite activity was simply sitting along the canal, watching the powerful Italian sun reflect off the sea as the boats go by and sipping on this refreshing drink. Aperol Spritz is my absolute favorite, and I’m excited to share my personal recipe (olive and all) very soon on Western Charm.
Venice in summer isn’t Venice. You don’t have a moment to appreciate the city or simply look down the full length of a street because it’s flooded tourists and selfie sticks.
Visit in autumn or winter. You’ll have a chance to see Venice as it truly is — a uniquely charming Italian city with an endless amount of history and sleepy streets to explore. We even had a moment on the Bridge of Sighs to ourself — which is unheard of luxury during summer months.
Another bonus of visiting during off-season months is the most luxury and darling of hotels are substantially more affordable. Venice is all about glamour and renaissance flair, and our hotel room at Palazzo Paruta was nothing short of style. This room, situated right off a gorgeous traditional Venetian courtyard, was a true royal experience at an incredible affordable price.