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Hidden Gems in Venice

Unique Things To Do in Venice

Whenever I’m planning a trip I look for variety. Yes, I want to see the major tourist attractions but I also want stuff a little off the beaten track. I want to find secret locations, to see places that not everyone sees, and I want a break away from the masses of tourists. (Which actually wasn’t as hard as you might think in November). Well, I’m pleased to say there are some great hidden gems in Venice. I think I found a few spots which are well worth adding to your travel itinerary if you’re staying for a couple of days.

Libreria Acqua Alta

Libreria Acqua Alta is a very unique and unusual bookshop. This is at the top of my list of hidden gems in Venice. You can find the bookshop in Venice’s Castello district. So if you’re staying close to St Mark’s Square this is only a 10 minute walk away. How much more convenient can you get?

As you may have guessed by the name, the Libreria Acqua Alta is prone to flooding. As soon as you enter the shop you will notice that most of the books are stored in bathtubs and boats. There is even a full sized gondola in the middle of the shop. A video plays on repeat in one of the back rooms showing the devastation the bookshop has suffered due to flooding.

Flooded books

Many books have been destroyed by the seasonal high tides known as the Acqua Alta. But they’ve made it a feature and a reason to visit, as you can see from the photos.

As the shop backs directly onto the canal you can climb the steps of books and admire the view. This is also a great location for an Instagram photo.

Hidden Gems in Venice: Me at Libreria Acqua Alta sat on pile of books

The shop sells all kinds of different books from classics to tour guides. Many of them are Italian language books as you’d expect but there are some books more aimed at tourists as well as calendars, bookmarks and other souvenirs.

View From the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi

And it’s free! Head to the Rialto Bridge and you will find a huge department store called Fondaco Dei Tedeschi. The department store itself is beautiful. As soon as you walk through the door you’ll be surrounded by the likes of Burberry and Gucci. There is an up market cafe in the centre and the architecture is amazing. Head to the roof and you’ll find a red rope and a member of staff to greet you.

Although entry to the roof terrace is free you do need to book a time slot online. This is purely to limit the number of tourists they let onto the roof at any one time. 70 people is the maximum. (I imagine it’s probably to do with fire safety regulations). Go onto the website and pick your preferred time slot. The allowance is 15 minutes. In the summer months you might need to give this some thought and book it a day or two in advance. Like anything at peak season in Venice, expect it to be busy!

Sunset is a popular time and gets booked up quickly. But I really do recommend going at sunset if you’ve got a clear day! Here’s why…

Hidden Gems in Venice: fondaco dei tedeschi at sunset

You will get an amazing view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge beneath you all the way up. The rooftop has aluminium maps of the skyline pointing out buildings of significance in the distance.

Lots of people head to roof top bars for a great view of Venice but in my opinion this is the best view in Venice. Plus it’s free so if you’re after hidden gems in Venice, make a beeline for the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi.

The Island Of Torcello

So I know I’m cheating a little bit here but the third choice in my ‘hidden gems of Venice’ is not actually part of Venice itself. Venice is surrounded by dozens of small islands, all accessible by ferry, vaporetto or boat tour. Most people, if they want a day trip away from Venice, visit the islands of Murano and Burano, but many miss Torcello. There’s an obvious reason for this. Murano is famous for its glass blowing and Burano is made famous for lace making and beautifully coloured houses. Torcello on the other hand doesn’t have anything particularly special about it other than the Byzantine mosaics in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta. Torcello isn’t overly touristy, there aren’t any souvenirs to buy, and that’s why I loved it.

Once the boat drops you off you can walk along the canal until you get to a few restaurants. Keep walking and you will find the church and the Basilica.

Torcello, especially in November, is quiet beyond belief. Visiting Torcello is like being transported back in time. It’s how I imagined Venice to be before it was over run with tourists. Locals go about their daily lives on Torcello and you can submerse yourself in the middle of it. In the summer I’m sure it’s busier but it would still be a nice break away from the hustle and bustle of Venice.

Best Hidden Gems in Venice

Venice of course is full of wonderful places. There are so many beautiful spots you could call every open square, every church and every dead end all hidden gems in Venice. However, if I had to pick three unusual or unique places that you really must visit during your trip to Venice, they would be the Libreria Acqua Alta, the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi and the beautiful island of Torcello.

Do you think I’ve missed any hidden gems in Venice? Are there any ‘must sees’ that I should be adding to my next trip? Let me know!

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