The Venice that most visitors experience is filled with crowds. The city is a spectacular sight and is one of my favorite European destinations but, even during the off-season, I have been amazed at the number of visitors. Someone recently described Venice to me as a Disneyland for adults with crowded streets and long lines at all the attractions. However, Venice is a wonderful destination in spite of the crowds, long lines and over-priced restaurants. The art, architecture and history of Venice are unlike anywhere else in the world.
A peaceful oasis
I have found that one must spend several days in Venice to really appreciate its beauty and grandeur. A day spent visiting the sights of St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto area offers only a brief glimpse of all that Venice has to offer. I love to spend long days jostling with crowds in the center or wandering off the beaten path to discover little known wonders among the narrow streets. These long days can be exhausting but I have found a peaceful oasis on the Eastern tip of Venice that allows me to relax and savor the quiet side of the city.
Located a mere five minutes by vaporetto (water bus) from St. Mark’s Square, the Santa Elena neighborhood takes one into a different Venetian world. In Santa Elena, tourists are rare. Dogs and children cavort in the tree-studded playground and local residents enjoy their espresso at quiet tables seemingly unaware of the touristic commotion only minutes away.
Santa Elena is small-town Italy. With a post office, pharmacy, a few small stores, a bakery, and police station, the neighborhood provides local residents with all their needs. A hotel and a few lazy neighborhood restaurants provide just enough services for the few tourists who venture to the area.
St, Mark’s Square is only a twenty-minute stroll along the scenic seafront promenade called the Riva degli Sciavoni and the area is the best place to watch the sun set over the city. The nearby Biennale Gardens are home of the internationally acclaimed Venice Art festival that is held every other year.
The local vaporetto stop connects one to all the sights in the region. Regular routes service the glitzy island of Lido, home of the Venice film festival and golden sand beaches. Other routes connect to the islands of Murano, with its renowned glass works, and Burano, historic home of lace making.
Where to stay
Best Western Premier Hotel Sant’Elena
Calle Buccari 10 Sant’Elena
Bed and Breakfast Venezia
Santa Elena-Calle Bainsizza, 3
Where to eat
Pizza Vecia Gina
54 Vial Quattro Novembre
36 Viale Quattro Novembre
Osteria Al Pampo
24 Via Chinotto Antonio Generale
More from this contributor:
Making the Best of Off-Season Travel to Europe
Civita di Bagnoregio: Escape the Chaos of Rome for a Day
Get More From Your Trip: Become a Temporary Local