The New York Times recently published a fascinating article entitled “Venice, Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming ‘Disneyland on the Sea.'” It’s actually really disappointing that what was once the most powerful republic in the Mediterranean (anyone from the Veneto will remind you of this) has become little more than a day-tripper destination, with floods of tourists, many dragging rolling suitcases, crowding the narrow streets and robbing the city of any remaining charm.
The New York Times (and locals) single out cruise ships as particularly to blame for this. We also think economics has a lot to do with it (hotels in Venice are some of the most expensive in the world, so staying the night is impossible for many). The thing we found most interesting about the article is that locals don’t welcome this type of “cheap” tourism, even if it brings in money. It’s ruined the place for everyone – locals and tourists alike.
We first saw Venice on a day trip (we took the train and left our luggage back at our hotel), however, we would highly recommend staying a night or two if you can to enjoy the beauty once the masses have left for the day. If you do visit for for the day, try to go without luggage, take a water taxi to San Marco and then wander back through the streets. We found some of the quietest areas off the beaten path.
Fortunately, there are also lots of places in Italy you can visit that don’t cost a fortune, and where you can have a much more relaxed and authentic experience than the crowded tourist cities (for example, see all of our posts on Umbria or Veneto). Of course you should see Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan, but we’re far more excited to go back to visit the off-the-beaten-path locations that we’ve fallen in love with over the years.