My once-in-a-lifetime trip to Venice

Venice has always been on my ‘must-see’ travel list, with its endless romantic towers and basilicas reflected in those famous canals. I recently found some cheap flights on a holiday comparison site, so I’ve started planning in earnest! Though I’ve been lucky enough to see Rome, Milan and Florence, this will be my first visit to the City of Light.

It’s going to be tempting to explore Piazza San Marco as soon as I arrive, but the area gets very busy with all the attractions like the Doge’s Palace and Campanile bell tower. I’m thinking a full day’s exploration may be needed! The B&B where I’m staying was recommended to me by a friend and is quite near to the centre in Riviera del Brenta, so there’ll be plenty of chances to pop out and acclimatise after I’ve got settled.

The quintessential Venice experience has got to be a gondola ride. I’ve heard that busier areas like the Grand Canal are actually best-avoided by boat, so I’m aiming for the backwaters around San Polo and the church of Santa Maria Nova.

My personal highlight will be the artworks. I’m making time for an afternoon at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, but there are many churches and ‘scuola’ houses like Grande di San Rocco that are down on the list for their in-house collections, as well. It will be interesting to see how works by Titian, Tintoretto and Carpaccio look in the flesh, especially when compared to the grand masters I’ve seen elsewhere, like Leonardo and Raphael!

As far as the food goes, I’ve waited a while to taste fresh polenta as they make it in Venice, and I might even dare to try spider crab or one of the other Venetian seafood specialities, if I’m feeling adventurous. If not, I’ll stick to the world-famous gelato or a glass of Veneto red; even the house wine is said to be superior in Venice!

I’m also hoping to make time for a few day trips out of the centre. The lagoon island of Murano has caught my eye; this is where the elite Murano glass-makers have worked for centuries. But really, a week probably isn’t long enough to grasp the full delights of Venice itself, though I guess I’m just going to have to try!

Enjoy Italy On A Budget

Italy is known for being romantic, historical, cultural – and expensive. That doesn’t have to be the case, though, and there are plenty of places you can go to soak up the sun in Italy without blowing your budget.

First, consider when you want to visit. May, June, September and October are the busiest months in Italy, when the weather is at its finest and the entertainment is in full swing. Choosing a holiday outside of this time can result in much lower prices, although you should avoid the end of August when most Italian’s shut up shop to go on their own holidays.

Photo of tourists in Venice

Italy is full of gorgeous cities, and the more flexible you are on where you visit, the better deal you will get. Look at flight websites to see where you can go for the cheapest price, and why not try discount holidays to multiple locations, too. Train travel across Italy can be very cheap, and lets you explore a variety of different towns. Tours are very popular, and often involve flying into one town, travelling through another and flying out of a third. Venice, Florence and Rome tends to be a popular route, with plenty of tickets. Book early for the best rates, or try to swipe a great last minute deal.

Accommodation costs can vary significantly between hotels. Look for three or four star hotels with extra night free deals, or children go free deals. Ideally, pick a hotel that includes complimentary breakfast to save yourself spending money. Unusual rooms, such as rooms that share a bathroom, are usually a lot cheaper than standard rooms and are ideal if you are travelling with children or friends.

Food prices can be expensive. If you are on a budget, it’s best to avoid restaurants, and instead eat at bars and pizza houses. There are plenty of cheap fillers for snacks, too, such as yummy Italian gelatin which only costs two or three euros.

Visiting Italy can be the trip of a lifetime, and doesn’t have to be expensive. Venice and Florence are both beautiful cities that can be visited cheaply, and Rome is an amazing place that can also be done on a budget. Now all you have to do is remember your camera!