Welcome to Europe's most beautiful city. For centuries the architecture, industry, and artistry of this storied area have beckoned to merchants, poets, and romantics alike. They were drawn to the citadels and strongholds of this Medieval maritime superpower, they were hypnotized by the wealth and riches amassed by the Doge's Republic, and they were enchanted by the floating gondolas, delicate crafts, and unmistakable beauty hiding along every twisty windy street. Today these attractions continue to make Venice one of Italy's most visited cities. And it won't take long after stepping onto Piazza San Marco or the Ponte di Rialto for you to understand why, and to be glad you joined the throngs.
Indeed, you also will soon realize, it's no wonder that Venice once was a superpower that conquered a significant portion of the region. If anyone can figure out how to navigate this city, international domination should be a piece of cake! For this reason, Venice can be a problematic place to get a good run in. The place is made up of 117 islands strewn across the Venetian Lagoon. The narrow streets and bridges connecting them are cobblestone lain, and during the day become packed with tourists. The streets themselves make up an intricate, impossible maze that makes getting lost a regular occurrence.
That being said, Venice is also one of the most amazing places to run in Europe. So grab our BTG Venice chapter, and come along. Our goal is to simplify the city enough so that you feel comfortable getting out, getting a good run in, and getting a chance to experience the wonder that comes with this active experience. Andiamo!
- Acqua Alta: Let's be honest. This city is built on a lagoon, so in Venice you have to watch out for acqua as it is. It's also unsurprising that Venice is susceptible to regular flooding. These high waters, the "Acqua Alta", are particularly likely to inundate the streets in the autumn, winter, and during full moons. When this happens, the Venetians lay down narrow wooden walkways so that pedestrians can still get by. The planks near Piazza San Marco will then get very crowded with tourists, and will be almost impossible to run.
- People: Venice is the most visited city in one of the world's most visited countries, and many of its streets are barely wide enough for three people to walk abreast. The street congestion during the day will make running straight very difficult, but you will work your lateral movement as you dodge people.
- Getting Lost: In Venice, just accept the fact that you are going to get lost every time you leave your abode. When this happens, you'll be a lot happier if you relax, let yourself enjoy the streets, and keep the faith that you eventually will stumble upon your destination.
Navigating Venice - Some Advice:
At BTG, we are by no means Venice street and canal experts. But during our research expedition we discovered a few strategies that made finding our way around easier. We thought we'd share them with you:
- Follow The Signs: The signs to Venice's main sites, that is. Street names in Venice are not helpful, and usually are not even posted. But signs to Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge, and Accademia Bridge can be found at almost any point throughout the city. Try to use those locations as your navigation waypoints, and don't bother trying to figure out what street things are on.
- Create Some Checkpoints: In addition to the large checkpoints we've suggested above, it's a good idea to create your own. After you've settled into your accommodation, take a few moments to step outside and look around the streets around you. Try to find some recognizable markers that will help you find your way back home.
- Don't Watch Out For: Do not use quaint mask shops, petit marble paper shops, or Murano glass galleries as navigation points. There are too many of those in this city to consider them unique to your neighborhood.
- Walk The Walk: Once you've found some landmarks to help you find your door, wander up the street a bit to find other markers that will signal your proximity to your accommodation. You may want to take this walk all the way to the nearest vaporetto stop.
- Hop a Boat: The vaporettos are Venice's water buses. They cruise the Grand Canal and stop at most major sites and piazzas. It's worth your while to buy an unlimited transport pass for the duration of your city stay and use these guys when you really need to get somewhere. Not only will you quickly and painlessly find the city's central landmarks and museums, but when you get lost you can simply hop on a boat and ride it until you figure out where you are.
- Get Found: Like we said, getting lost in Venice is part of the experience. But if you can turn a wrong turn into a long stroll or exploratory expedition, your frustration will quickly fade to fascination.