Venice, Italy, is the perfect place to be if you like to wander. You can walk around exploring, turn down an interesting alleyway, or even get lost. You don’t have to worry, though, because you will always be able to find your way back to where you started or where you need to be.
I’ve written about navigating through the city on the Grand Canal, but walking is just as interesting. In Venice, following a map can be difficult, as none of the streets travel in a straight line or recognizable pattern. I’ve seen some street signs, but not all streets are labeled – I’m not even sure that all have names. Many of the streets are not any wider than a sidewalk, and others are water streets, or canals.
It’s fun to wander around – to just look at the antique buildings and the unique doors and windows, and to cross the arched bridges that span the canals. I spent some time wandering the last time I was in Venice.
As you walk, look around in different directions. If something looks interesting, head that way. Since Venice is an island, you can only wander to the edge of the land. You can try to walk in one direction – north or east, for example, and see where you end up. It’s pretty easy to get direction-turned, but that just makes the walk more interesting.
Finding Your Way
When you are finished wandering and want to find your way back, the easiest way to do so, is to look and follow the signs to the Rialto Bridge and San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. Large yellow signs that say, “Per Rialto,” and “Per S. Marco,” with a directional arrow, are affixed to the corners of buildings throughout the city. Other signs, such as “All Academia,” might also be seen, but the most popular and, I think, the most useful are the Rialto and S. Marco.
By following the signs, you can always make your way back to one of these popular landmarks and from there, find your hotel, B&B, or apartment. The Rialto Bridge is near the center of the island. It is surrounded by shops, restaurants, hotels and apartments. St. Mark’s Square is on the south side of the island. The Basilica and Campanile, the Doge’s Palace and the prison are attractions in this area.
Italian Espresso Maker
The last time I was in Venice, I spent part of my time wandering with a purpose. I was looking for a couple of items in particular. My husband had seen an Italian espresso maker and asked me to go back and purchase one for him. I was also looking for a yarn store.
I remembered the approximate area where we had seen the espresso maker, but I wasn’t sure. I did not have an address, but I’m not sure it would have helped if I did. Eventually, I found the store, but I decided I’d like to bring my husband back so he could choose the size pot that he wanted.
To come back to this particular store, I used a map app that I had installed on my phone. If you have a smart phone, you may already have Google maps installed. What you may not know, is that you can download particular city maps that can then be used offline. This is especially helpful if you are traveling internationally and are concerned about using data.
Before you travel, download maps for the cities where you will be traveling. Start by searching for the city you want – I searched for Venice, Italy. When the map loads, click on the name of the city on the bottom of he screen. A screen will pop-up giving you an option to download the map. When you click to download, Google will alert you as to how much space the map will use on your phone. If space is not a problem, download the map.
Before we left home, I had loaded the map of Venice onto my phone. I could now use the map, just as I would if I was using it with data. The GPS signal does not use data. As I stood outside the store where we had found the espresso maker, I opened the map and saved the store’s location. With the saved map, I was able to bring my husband back to the store – he loves his espresso maker!
The Yarn Store
I scoured the internet looking for yarn shops to visit while I was in Venice, but I could only come up with one possibility. I used my saved map of Venice to locate the shop and wandered the area until I located it.
Lellabella is a small shop located on a street named San Marco (although not near the Square). The shop, owned by a friendly mother and daughter, is small, but it carries a variety of Italian and other European yarns. I enjoyed shopping at what the owner confirmed was the only yarn shop in Venice.
Wandering around Venice, with or without a purpose can be a fun way to spend an afternoon or even a whole day. It is especially pleasant to get away from the crowds and explore the narrow back streets. Take a walk and wander the next time you are in Venice. Let us know what you find.