OK, call me the Venetian Curmudgeon, but why would anyone want to choose lodging anywhere near Piazza San Marco? The Piazza, the Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale, these are all things to come to see, enjoy, and then leave to go to back another sestiere, any other sestiere, all of which are far more personable, pleasant and interesting for exploring, enjoying, and getting to know a bit of Venezia vivibile (live-able Venice).
I have nothing against it personally, mind you. Senza dubbio, without a doubt, the Piazza is nothing short of spectacular once the sun has slipped beyond the bacino. By then, day-trippers have been reloaded in their motor coaches, en-route to the next one-day destination; the pigeons (who first called them flying rats?) have gone to roost who-knows-where; and those who remain willingly succumb to the enticing ambience of a summer’s eve: the exotic backdrop of the illuminated face of San Marco, a chosen orchestra; an impromptu waltz; a fantasy cocktail at the Caffè Florian.
But in the harsh light of day, San Marco and the area immediately surrounding it, hosts nothing short of a carnival â€“ no â€“ circus atmosphere, un casino. (In the Instructions, I state that “Italy is a country, not a theme park.” As I thread the wagons of souvenirs that carpet San Zaccaria boat stop though, I fear I may have misspoke). The area harbors the worst, most expensive food, the most cynical hotels, the kitschiest and chic-est shopping both, the biggest tourist traps, the most suffocating crowds. This is a fact: and why people choose to ignore it â€“ and then come and have it ruin their time here â€“ it simply beyond me.
Of course, living almost a year’s time an apartment that’s halfway between San Marco and Il Teatro La Fenice â€“ an apartment that’s perfect for a week’s, or even a month’s stay â€“ and hearing O Soooooooooooooo-le Mio for the umpteenth time today, and later at night than I ever would’ve expected….could be coloring my perception a bit, I’ll grant you that.
The fact remains, though, that although I’d never recommend coming here to stay on the mainland in Mestre, or even in Lido, there is so few locations here that are not “central” in Venice, that for a more pleasant and enjoyable stay it’s ridiculous not to explore lodging in Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Polo, or Cannaregio…anything out of the Riato-San Marco-Santo Stefano loop. Credimi (Believe me)!
(Hmmm…sorry for the rant. One too many caffè, today, you think?)