The Venice Story
Brand new – Open since July 2019
Ever since wombat’s started expanding Italy was high up on the bucket list. After 20 years in business wombat’s finally set foot on Italian soil in 2019. Welcome to wombat’s VENICE Mestre.
The interior design is inspired by the city of bridges. The contrast of the oppulence of Venice and functionality is the central topic. So we took some of the oppulent elements and stripped them down to their functional core. Nevertheless we have combined this approach with lots of lovely details. It’s this combination and the amazing folks working there already that makes you feel home instantly.
We feel home in Venice, we love and respect Venice.
And we want you to share this love and respect too. It does not only pamper your conscience, it adds up in establishing a more sustainable and responsible tourism. A symbiotic relationship with the town and its locals. When you respect Venice it opens up to you very differently. You may discover off the beaten path experiences, rather than tourist traps and overloaded photo spots.
So here’s a quick guide for you to learn how to be one of the good guys and what responsible tourism can mean in a tourism ridden place like Venice:
How to Be A Responsible Tourist in Venice
Venice is a beautiful city, there is no doubt about that, but she is suffering the effects of over-tourism and there are concerns about how La Serenissima can cope with so many visitors every year. We want everyone to be able to enjoy visiting Venice, so here are some ideas for how you can be a responsible tourist in Venice and visit Venice sustainably.
Plan Your Trip to Venice Responsibly
Visit Venice in the Off Season
Venice is a hugely popular destination, so try to plan your visit to avoid peak times around summer and other school holidays. Venice is also popular as a weekend destination, so if you are able to take time during the week and avoid the weekend you will find it much quieter. Of course, there are some special events when Venice will be packed such as Carnival in February but choosing the best time to visit Venice can make a huge difference to your trip.
Don’t Follow the Crowds
Certain areas in Venice are more popular than others, so expect St Mark’s Square, Rialto Bridge and the streets between them to be very busy. Instead of blindly following the crowds, if you see a quiet street, walk down it and take the scenic route. Venice is a wonderful city to get lost in, so explore the quieter neighbourhoods away from the main attractions to catch a glimpse of Venice without the crowds.
Spend More than a Day in Venice
Unfortunately, many visitors to Venice only spend one day here, so they rush around, doing the same things as every other day tripper does – St Mark’s Square, a Gondola ride, Rialto Bridge…. However, take your time to explore Venice and other islands around the Lagoon you’ll discover far more than the average tourist.
Explore the Veneto Region
Venice isn’t the only destination worth exploring in Veneto. Use Venice Mestre as a base to explore the Veneto Region, and you can easily get to destinations like Padua, Treviso, Verona and Lake Garda, as well as plenty of rural areas such as Prosecco-making vineyards!
Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
Try to book sustainable accommodation. There have been complaints about Airbnb pushing up rental prices so local people can’t afford to live in Venice anymore and cruise ships have also come under fire for putting too much pressure on the fragile city, especially after one crashed into a dock last month. We want our hostel to become part of the community, and to help our guests to enjoy Venice in the most sustainable way possible.
We specifically chose Mestre as the location for wombat’s VENICE to avoid putting any more pressure on the fragile eco-system in Venice. Hostels have less impact on the environment per person than a hotel, as the dorm rooms are shared by more people and they need less heating, lighting and electricity than individual hotel rooms. We employ local staff, source as much as we can locally, from the food we serve at breakfast to the bedding and furniture, and we are always looking for new ways to make your visit to Venice sustainable.
Follow the Rules to #EnjoyRespectVenezia
Venice City Council and the Municipal Police have some rules in place that must be followed in line with their campaign #EnjoyRespectVenezia, and you risk a fine if you do any of these:
Don’t eat or drink sitting on the ground or outside the designated areas – Fine: €200
Bringing a picnic is not illegal, but you have to find a suitable place to eat it like the public parks and gardens – you can’t sit on the ground or steps in any of the piazzas.
Don’t walk around bare-chested or in a swimsuit – Fine: €200
Save your swimsuit for the beach. No-one wants to see that much of your body while admiring the architecture, no matter how hot it is!
Don’t bring a bicycle onto the island – Fine: €100
This applies to the ‘main’ island of Venice. You can ride a bike on the mainland around Mestre or on the island of Lido, where you can find bicycle hire shops. If you want to take a bike from the mainland to Lido, you’ll need to take the ferry as bikes aren’t allowed on the vaporetto waterbuses.
Don’t litter or dump rubbish in public areas – Fine: €100-200
Don’t feed pigeons or seagulls – Fine: €25-500
As fun as it might be to stand in St Mark’s Square covered with flying rats, please don’t feed the pigeons. There are often people selling birdseed in St Mark’s Square to tempt you, but don’t do it – you be landed with a heavy fine, and it’s gross. As for the seagulls, if you are eating a picnic then watch out for them, they might swoop down and steal your food!
Don’t camp in public areas – Fine: €50
Camping is not allowed on Venice Island so don’t try it – come and stay with us instead!
Don’t deface public or private property with graffiti – Fine: €400
Street art is very rare in Venice for this reason, so don’t be tempted to create your own masterpiece on the walls of the city.
Don’t place locks on bridges or monuments – Fine: €100
You know those love locks that people attach to bridges to show their love will last forever? The weight of the locks can do serious damage to the bridges they are attached to, so find another way to show your undying love!
Don’t buy counterfeit goods from illegal sellers – Fine: €100-7000
It isn’t always easy to spot counterfeit goods, but in Venice, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you are looking to buy souvenirs in Venice, avoid cheap knockoffs and support local artisans who handmake their goods like masks or glass jewellery.
Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist in Venice
As well as breaking the law, if you do any of the above you are damaging Venice and its fragile infrastructure. Although the following guidelines aren’t as strictly enforced, they will make your – and everyone else’s – time in Venice much more enjoyable:
Walk on the right-hand side to keep the flow of people moving.
The main streets in Venice get very crowded, and when these streets are narrow it creates human traffic jams. Stick to the right-hand side (as if you were driving in Europe) so both lanes of traffic can keep moving.
Avoid standing in a group on bridges
Again, keeping the flow of people moving around the city is vital. Of course, everyone wants to take photographs and admire the views from the bridges but be considerate to other people and don’t block the way through.
Take a guided tour with a qualified local guide
Not only do local people know all the best places to visit, but they can also share with you a wealth of information that you simply won’t find in any of the guidebooks. Try to stick with a small group or private tours, although this can push the price up, it’s much more enjoyable strolling around Venice when there aren’t a hundred of you following someone waving a flag.
Taste the local food and buy something from the market stalls
Although you will find fast-food joints like McDonald’s and Burger King in Venice, skip the burgers and try some of the local specialities. Food in Venice is delicious, and it can be cheap too if you stick to local restaurants and avoid the tourist traps. Buying fresh food to cook back at the hostel is also a wonderful opportunity to try local fruit, vegetables and seafood. Head to Rialto Market in the morning or buy something from the market stalls you’ll see dotted around the city.
Visit artisan workshops and avoid cheap imported souvenirs
Unfortunately, like many popular tourist destinations, Venice has lots of tacky souvenir shops where you can buy cheap products shipped in from abroad. If you want to bring home a lasting memento of your trip to Venice, buy something authentic from a local craftsman.
Reduce your Plastic Use in Venice
We should all aim to reduce our plastic waste every day, not just while we’re travelling, but Venice is particularly vulnerable to the amount of waste as everything has to be transported off the island. Boats come by to collect the rubbish, but in many places, the bins fill up before the rubbish collectors have time to come and pick it up.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle
Instead of buying bottled water, bring your own refillable water bottle with you, and fill up at one of the many water fountains in Venice. Most of the Campos (squares) will have a water fountain where you can fill up, so every time you see one just top up and you’ll save plastic and money!
Bring a Cotton Bag for your Souvenirs
When you’re shopping at the market for food or in shops for something to buy from Venice, bring your own reusable bag so shopkeepers don’t have to give you a plastic bag to carry all your goodies.
Say No to Plastic Straws
Some restaurants and bars are already reducing their plastic use by not offering straws with their drinks, while others still add them automatically. Make sure you request drinks without straws, and if you need to bring your own bamboo or metal straw you can easily find them online.
Eat Gelato in a Cone
We would never suggest not eating gelato in Venice, but instead of ordering it in a cup with a (usually plastic) spoon, order a cone so nothing will go to waste. Delicious and environmentally friendly!
If we all follow these simple suggestions when we visit Venice, hopefully we can preserve and enjoy the city for years to come! Do you have any more suggestions for making a trip to Venice more sustainable? Sen us a message on Facebook or Instagram and let us know what you think!
Guest post written by our #wombatsTraveler ambassador Claire from Tales of a Backpacker.
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