Get lost in Venice

Get lost in Venice

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

When I map out our family vacations, we plot out where we’ll be staying, what places and attractions we want to see and ideas on different restaurants we should try. However, there are some places in Europe where it’s easier and more fun to throw caution to the wind and just get lost. The canal-lined cobblestone streets of Venice are the perfect place to put aside your best-laid plans and go wherever your feet take you.

Why Venice?

Venice is laid out beautifully for wandering. Streets are designed almost like a labyrinth, with dead ends ending in enchanting piazzas, usually with a small church or high walls, making you wonder what exactly is on the other side. You can cross canals via the countless stone bridges and explore the hidden alleys running between building facades. At some point, you even end up one of the connecting islands that make up the city center. The best part of Venice being a conglomeration of small islands is that you will eventually end up back where you started.

This charming city offers plenty of things to see and do, even for the pickiest of travelers. One of my children is one such traveler. When we decided to leave the map in the hotel room and just go, she loved it. We found one-of-a-kind boutiques, utterly delicious cafes and restaurants (including one offering a pizza topped with French fries) and vendors selling everything from European football kits to colorful handmade Murano glass sculptures. Although you are no longer permitted to sit along the waterfront (you’ll get a stern chastising from an officer if you do), you can slowly stroll along and watch the gondolas ferry tourists through the narrow waterways.

How to get lost

It may be a simple concept, but for so many of us who rely on technology and planning, it can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re like me and are navigationally challenged. Leave the map in the room and resist the urge to pull up Google maps. Pick a direction and just go. If you’re traveling in a group, have a different person choose each time you head out (we tend to decide via the rock-paper-scissors route). If you find a place that looks awesome, stop in. Chat with the shopkeepers or restauranteurs. They can direct you to find other hidden gems in the city and where the best place for a cornetto and espresso is in the neighborhood.

Venice quickly became one of our favorite trips when we tossed our usual planning out the window. While we used St. Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal as our primary landmarks, we found so much more by getting lost.

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