The mystical Venice, Italy. Made up of 117 islands, 150 canals and 409 bridges you can truly say Venice is a city unlike any other in the world. Once you step onto its worn brick “roads” you’ll find yourself wondering what world you just entered. That’s the beauty of Venice- located in the Northeast region of a country known for their romantic language, tasty food and long cultural history- it is a very easy destination to reach.
You always hear that it isn’t the destination it’s the journey, well traveling to Venice it’s both! After flying into Venice’s Marco Polo airport, which the name alone should bring you reminiscent joy, you can take a water bus or taxi to Venice.
During the 18th century Venice became the most culturally refined city in Europe and a major force on Art, Literature and Architecture. And now, with the entire city being named a world heritage site - Venice is the ultimate destination for any student going abroad as it is truly a living museum.
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Planning Your Trip
Culture and Immersion
While Venice is known for Italian romantics dressed in striped shirts, red scarves and hats singing while rowing you and your soul mate through the maze of canals, there is much more to see and do while you’re there.
A great place to visit day or night is Piazza San Marco. This picturesque square remains basically untouched from the times it was featured in many renaissance paintings. Surrounded by a church named St. Mark’s Basilica, a clock tower called Torre dell'Orologio, and archway after archway of restaurants, coffee shops, and offices of Venice’s officials you will be nothing short of amazed. Many events take place in this Piazza including concerts, festivals and markets but it is also a great place to relax or meet up with friends.
Cars are not allowed on Venice, so, as you could imagine, it is a very walk-able island. Residents of Venice’s main mode of transportation is by boat, which is why you will see many residence’s front doors over the canals instead of on paved paths.
A good way to get around Venice visit attractions is to purchase a Venice Connected card, which is offered to students at a discounted price. This will give you use of water taxis, buses, WIFI, public restrooms and museums such as the Murano Museo or the National Archeological Museum.
Like any other major tourist destination, Venice is not cheap but it is affordable. Keep an eye open for where the locals eat. Purchase food at places like the Rialto Market, which is world famous for fresh seafood and produce. Budget to buy a few items to take home with you that are reminiscent of Venice such as a traditional Venetian mask or a piece of Murano glasswork.
Many of the study abroad programs in Venice offer financial aid or scholarships, so be sure to inquire as to what options are available to you. For instance, Athena study abroad program has the Michele Iavagnilio Charitable Service Scholarship that would account for over half of tuition.
Dealing with Culture Shock
While Venice does seem like another world, it won’t be too much of a culture shock. Besides having no cars on the island, which is most likely a plus for you, the things that make Venice unique are mainly positives. The one negative that often lends itself to an experience you won’t forget is that when it rains it floods. Really floods. This is nothing new to locals, but it is gradually getting worse over the years as Venice slowly sinks closer to sea level.
It is highly recommended that you stay with a host family. Italians are some of the most welcoming people in the world and staying with a family during your time in Venice will only add to your experience, not to mention that you will also receive some amazing traditional home cooked meals. If you are doing a language program this is definitely a must!
The best tip for Venice is to just wander. Wander every chance you get. You can never get bored of this, as there are many nooks and paths to explore and experience. Be sure to visit every area of Venice and never take the same route twice, but do carry a map (or at least leave bread crumbs!), as it is easy to get lost.
Make sure your studies allow you to be in Venice through February for the annual Carnivale. This is the Venetian form of Mardi Gras (without the beads and you know what’s) that is near and dear to their culture. The entire city becomes a festival of renaissance storybook characters, costumes, and parties that you will never forget. This is also another time to splurge and attend one of the many private parties around the city.
Contributed by Marina Perrone
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