Ah Venice, just the thought conjures romantic images of gondolas, canals and the magical St Mark’s Square.
The reality of Venice is something different altogether. I should disclose that my father was born in Mestre, a town just outside of Venezia (how Venice is spelt in Italian) and my Nonno was born in nearby Treviso. So I have family connections to the place.
I’ve first visited Venezia in May 1996 and have been back about seven or eight times since. With every visit, some of the magic I felt during my first experience is permanently erased from my memory. Put it this way, it’s hard to be spell-bound by a place when you are in a mosh pit of tourists, your ears filled with booming annoying noise of loud-speaking tourist gits who have no clue. It’s even harder to find a love for a place through your stomach when every meal costs a fortune and is no where near as good as it’s supposed to be.
During one visit, we treated ourselves to a posh and super expensive hotel in the centre of Venice, only to sleep in a room that was marginally bigger than my pantry. To me, it just isn’t worth it.
Everyone should experience Venice before it sinks below and is lost forever. If like me, getting value for money is important to you, then here are my top reasons to stay in nearby Treviso instead of spending the GDP of a small nation on accommodation in Venice.
Reasons to stay in Treviso
- Treviso is between 25 and 40 minutes by train from Venice, depending on the train you take. Visit the Trenitalia website for train time info and booking – it’s in English and easy to navigate
- The train stations in Treviso and Venice are both a short walk from the centre of both places, making it a very easy and convenient journey
- Accommodation in Treviso is cheaper. We stayed in Riverside Apartment that we booked on Booking.com and it was beautiful, about 100 metres from the train station and backed onto a canal
- Treviso has canals – you won’t find gondolas manned by bored a gondoliers in striped t-shirts, ready to argue with the first person who questions their exorbitant fee. But you will find cute bridges, peaceful canals and may even see a few ducks or swans.
- The old centre of Treviso is cobblestoned and pedestrianised, making it very pleasant to stroll around as you window shop, gaze in wonder at ancient churches and palaces or perhaps during ‘la passeggiata’ – the traditional evening stroll Italians take before dinner
- There are plenty of good restaurants in Treviso that don’t cost the earth – look out for my blog post for my recommendations of where to eat (it’s coming!)
- Treviso is home of the famous Pinarello bicycle. That mightn’t mean much to some, but to the early morning lycra set and those who love the old ‘shopper-style’, the handmade Pinarello is the business.
Reasons not to stay in Venice
- Make no mistake, Venice is a place that everyone should experience once in their life, but do so knowing that you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege
- Accommodation is limited and in high demand, as such, you’ll pay through the nose for a standard of room that would cost you a fraction of the price elsewhere
- Venice is filled with tourist traps – do your research and choose where to eat carefully or you’ll be served mediocre food that’ll cost a fortune. And don’t go on TripAdvisor recommendations – they are inflated with reviews from tourists who think a huge serve equates to a good meal. No, it does not.
- Venice is packed during the popular months – May, June, July – and don’t even think about August. People are everywhere. Everyone has a selfie stick and is jostling for the best position to get a pic of themselves in front of St Marks. Loud speaking annoying tourists everywhere. It’s a turn off.
- When it’s stinking hot, Venice can sometimes be stinking. Those canals do not smell good. It’s hard to appreciate the floating city’s magic when sewerage scented wafts fill your nostrils
There are other near by towns to Venice that are worth visiting too – Verona, Padova, Vincenza just to name a few. Venice can be magical. If it’s on your bucket list, go when it’s not peak times for tourists or stay in a gorgeous town that’s nearby.