Thanks to all those who helped me plan a recent trip to Venice to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We had a fantastic time and it was made a little easier by the help I received from this board. Below are my impressions of the city as a lay person and non expert, and made purely from my own experience and perspective.
Marco Polo airport is clean, modern and efficient, the baggage is quick, and you won’t have to wait too long. After you collect your bags leave the airport by turning left outside. Follow the signs to the waterbus and water taxis, it is a short walk and as long as you are not infirm or heavily laden it is an easy level walk even with a suitcase on wheels.
If you have the money (even if you haven’t) take water taxi to the Islands. It cost me 90 Euro and believe me it was worth every penny/cent. We arrived in under 20 minutes having sat on leather bound seats with the roof open and the wind in our hair. The taxi was all walnut , carpet and leather and after slowly meandering through the canals that were softly lit and veiled in a faint mist, it dropped us off directly outside our hotel, the Londra Palace. We felt like millionaires. (the brownie points I earned were immense)
You can walk everywhere in Venice; you don’t need public transport unless you want to visit another island. We bought a 72 hour pass and only used it twice.
Allow at least one day to just meander aimlessly through the streets, don’t take a map just follow your feet. You will find some fantastic squares and fantastic places to eat and drink. Look for the places full of Italian people taking their lunch break and avoid places crammed with tourists.
If you do get lost (and you will) signs everywhere point to the Rialto Bridge, San Marco or Academia; all central places.
If you do go, go out of season the atmosphere will be fantastic and you don’t have to share it with thousands of others, I imagine the place would be dreadful in season because of the crowds and aimless wondering would be close to impossible.
If you see something you like buy it, you may not find the shop again and the chances are you will never go back.
Visit the island of Murano by taking the waterbus, avoid the free tours. Shop for your glass on the Island of Murano but be prepared to wade through rubbish and outrageously overpriced pieces and you will find some really lovely and keenly priced, unique and individual glass. Don’t pay the ticket price, every day is discount day!
Watch out for the graffiti, it is horrendous and IMO Venice needs to get a grip of it, the city is covered in pen and spray paint. It blights most of the standard tourist sights, and not just the back alleys.
If you want a reasonably priced trattoria with good food eaten by Venitian's and Gondoliers try the one tucked away under the bridge directly behind the Danielli hotel. Its called Alla Rivetta, its busy and you may have to share a table but the food is brilliant and sometimes spontaneous, We enjoyed fresh scallops served in the shell straight from a tray of about twenty, straight from the kitchen and offered to all. The service is good and the surroundings “comfortable”. Try a 1L carafe of Prosecco for 8 Euro, better than any cheap supermarket champagne you can buy in the UK.
I don't have a clue where the other places we ate were, but the food was good and we stuck to my basic rule of eating where the locals eat.
I could write far more and go on for hours, but in a nutshell, go and relax, don’t worry about what to see or do just let it happen. If you rush about ticking all the boxes and seeing all the sights you will never see the real Venice.
Once again thank you very much for a wonderful and informed forum, and if your about to go for the first time--I know you will enjoy it.