Venice native Igor Scomparin led tours all over Europe with Globus for a decade before returning home to be a “local host” for Monograms. Now, this tourism industry veteran’s mission is to show the real, authentic Venice to travelers who come to visit his homeland. Here’s a look at the “city of canals” through the ultimate local’s eyes.

Catch up with Igor on Twitter @tourleadervenic and on Instagram @tourleadervenice.

Venice Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the lively Rialto Market. Here, they’ll see the catch of the day and smell the scents of tomatoes, apricots, peaches, and cherries.

Autumn is the best time to visit my city because it is less crowded and more pleasant, weather-wise.

You can see my city best from the top of St. Mark’s bell tower. On a crystal-clear day, you can even see the incredible Dolomite Mountains and St. George Island, just across the bay.

Locals know to skip the crowds at St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto area and check out the city’s quieter, more artistic side in Castello—one of Venice’s six historic sestieresinstead.

Rialto Market (Photograph by ericparker, Flickr)

Rialto Market (Photograph by ericparker, Flickr)

Dorsoduro is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs, such as lovely little handmade necklaces, glass rings, and gondolier shoes made from bicycle tires.

My city’s best museum is Palazzo Ducale because it’s home to paintings by Italian masters like Veronese and Tintoretto, as well as the amazing prisons where Giacomo Casanova, the “Latin lover,” escaped.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to wear very comfortable shoes. We have more than 400 bridges that keep residents and travelers in good shape.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is in the area around the Venetian Arsenal or along the Via Garibaldi in the Castello district, an incredible section of the city that hasn’t changed at all in centuries. Here, you’ll find the best photos of laundry hanging from buildings.

My city really knows how to celebrate the Feast of the Redeemer, a local festival that has taken place in July since the late 16th century. We enjoy fireworks and gondola competitions along the Grand Canal as part of the fun.

You can tell if someone is from my city if, when in St. Mark’s Square, they go around the columns instead of through them. The columns mark execution spots and Venetians are superstitious. We believe that if you go through the columns, you will have bad luck.

For a fancy night out, I suggest going into St. Mark’s Square to experience one of Venice’s oldest cafés, and to listen to classical music. The entire square is illuminated, giving it a romantic atmosphere.

Just outside my city, you can visit Burano, a lovely and colorful fisherman’s village that’s also renowned for its lace.

My city is known for being busy and crowded, but I’d prefer people embraced it as a great place to get lost. It’s an island and getting “lost” is the best way to experience it.

Piazza San Marco (Photograph by rmonty119, Flickr)

Piazza San Marco at night (Photograph by rmonty119, Flickr)

The best outdoor market in my city is the Rialto Market where you can find fresh fish, fruit, and meat—as well as the best “street food” in Venice.

Pasticceria Dal Mas is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Campo Santa Margherita is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Un Ospite di Venezia (A Guest in Venice), an online magazine and tourist information guide.

My city’s biggest sports event is the annual Regata Storica, a rowing competition featuring the best gondoliers in Venice. Watch it along the Grand Canal on the first Sunday in September.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I meet up with friends at Remer, a cozy restaurant and cocktail bar close to Rialto Bridge, to enjoy the spritz, a local cocktail.

To escape the crowds, I go to Cannaregio, the northernmost of Venice’s six sestieres, which includes the historic Jewish district. It’s a lovely and incredibly quiet area, away from the tourists. Going to the Lido, a seven-mile sandbar in the city, is another great option.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Al Pacino because it’s lively and always full of action.

The dish that represents my city best is anything from the sea. We’re on the water and you’ll never go wrong when you order seafood. Try mixed fried fish with polenta and spritz, my city’s signature cocktail.

The Guggenheim is my favorite building in town because the exhibitions are great and the view from the terrace is fantastic.

The most random thing about my city is acqua alta, high tides that flood the streets, bringing the entire island to a halt. In 2013, we experienced nearly 60 days of high tide.

Gondoliers compete in the Regata Storica.(Photograph by mountjoy, Flickr)

Gondoliers compete in the Regata Storica. (Photograph by mountjoy, Flickr)

Stealing a gondola along the Grand Canal and being stopped by the police could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should take a long walk around the island and get lost.

In the summer you should go to the Lido beach to experience the Venice Film Festival.

In the fall you should go to the island of Burano and enjoy fresh seafood.

In the winter you should eat in a local café and, if you are lucky enough, enjoy the snow.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss a football (soccer) match in a local campo (square) with the local kids.

The best book about my city is Venetian Legends and Ghost Storiesby Alberto “Toso Fei, because you will learn about the city’s local stories and history.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Ciao Venezia.”

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it’s an incredible melting pot of culture and style; a romantic city with dramatic scenery and views (especially at night).

Comments

  1. Linda Beil
    Canada
    August 10, 1:13 pm

    I spent time in Venice with my son and daughter while on a backpacking trip through Italy 12 years ago. What a magical place. I wish I had the opportunity to read your blog beforehand, as I now know that we missed some of the essence of Venice. I dream of going back someday with my husband. Thank you…

  2. Nic Hilditch-Short
    August 1, 9:34 am

    I visited Venice many years ago as a youth and really feel I should go back now I have a better understanding and appreciation of its beauty!

    http://www.theroamingrenegades.com/

  3. Sita Rahmah
    Indonesia
    July 28, 2:03 pm

    It’s beautiful sad and thanks for sharing. Pls email me the details itenary, how many days needed to visit Italy, Venice, and how much is the rate of the hotel or hostel.

  4. Rose
    July 27, 11:01 pm

    Venice is like a wonderland where I can have the most beautiful dreams. Its night is full of gorgeous lights, making my heart full of happiness. “Touch” is the best word for me to describe my feelings to Venice. I like smelling the fragrant scents of the waters in Venice. I like touching the fantastic castles of Venice. I like stepping on the bridges connecting two cute buildings. I like feeling this city’s soul. Venice, a city of dream.

  5. LMYaa
    China
    July 27, 8:48 pm

    Its night sense deeply absorbed me.

  6. Audrey Jiang
    July 26, 11:04 pm

    thank you for sharing! I want to know how much money should I prepare to visit to Venice?

  7. Rivkaslama
    Petachtikwa,israel
    July 25, 4:41 am

    Fantastically beautiful