Venice is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. With the number of tourists coming into the fabled city (most of them with enough money to spend) it is not much of a stretch that many criminal elements would also flock to the place as well.
Most of them are not from Venice, although there are some few locals who also take advantage on their unsuspecting visitors. Like in other places of the world, it is always a mixture of the good and not-so-good people.
Not all incidents, however, are bad. Some are funny, surprising, and some are the results of being too gullible. Here are some tips taken from actual experiences of previous tourists. As always, your common sense is your best guide.
Some survival tips
*** Beware of fake signature handbags sold on the streets. Ignore them because they are illegal. There is a hefty fine (3,000 Euros) simply for buying from them.
*** Be careful if you plan to buy those famous Venetian masks – they can be overpriced. Worse, they might be imported fakes from abroad. There are still shops around where you can witness the actual papier-mβchι process. Buy from them to be sure.
*** Ordering food from sidewalk cafes, especially fish, can be tricky. Fish in these places are sold by weight, not by piece. 7 Euros means 7 Euros per etto (or 100 grams), so a regular fish weighing 5 etto (500 grams or half a kilo) might cost you 35 Euros, rather too steep for fish. Always ask.
*** Do you want to have some coffee and sit at St. Mark? Check for hidden cover charges. They could be more expensive than your coffee, simply because you were listening to some live orchestra playing while sipping your latte. (Try Campo San Polo or Campo Santa Margherita. Their coffee is lovely even without the music and they are reasonably priced.)
Side note: Like in most of Italy, sitting down and consuming your food and drinks costs more than doing the same (eating and drinking) standing at the “banco” (bar area).
*** Original Murano glass pieces, hand-blown and designed by authentic glass masters are generally very expensive. However, items sold near Piazza San Marco are greatly discounted because of too much competition among the shops.
Sometimes, bigger discounts are also available at Burano or some other outlying areas away from the commercial centers. Of course, you still have to be wary of fakes imported from Asia and passed on as original Murano glass.
If you are staying in spring and summer, ask for mosquito repellents. The beautiful windows of many of La Serenissima hotels do not have screens. Hotels have small electric mosquito repellents.
Buy yourself a small pocket flashlight. It will be handy looking at your maps in the evenings. Venetian street lamps are quite dim, very romantic and mysterious, but do not help you in seeing what’s on your map.
Maps of Venice are given out FREE along with your transport ticket pass at the airport. Everywhere else seems to be selling the maps to unsuspecting tourists who don’t have theirs. (Some hotels also have free maps of the city available at their reception.)
If you took note of some of these tips, it might help you survive your stay in one of the world’s most enchanting and truly fascinating cities. These difficulties notwithstanding, Venice is still the best.