Venice is on everyone’s “must visit” list and with good reason, it is achingly beautiful and the stuff of stories and fairy tales. It has inspired some of the greatest writers and continues to inspire some of the world’s most prominent artists and while it may lack the tottering skyscrapers of London and New York, it is just as prominent for business travel.
WHERE TO STAY
Arriving to Venice to find that the air in the city moves at a sluggish pace due to the oppressive humidity we beelined to the Hotel Amadeus which is on the main street through the centre on Rio tera Lista di Spagna. The air conditioning was strong and blessedly cold.
As the home of the Renaissance, you don’t come to Venice looking for city simplicity, you come here to see gables, trusses, grandiose pillars and extravagant plushness and this is what Amadeus offers. It isn’t too pricey, it is very well positioned and offers a delicious buffet style breakfast. The reception service is 24 hours and exceedingly helpful with regards to what to see in Venice depending on what you’re there for. Some people like touristy stuff, others want to vanish off the beaten path. You’ll get offered both here.
WHERE TO GO
Venice loves writers and artists and while there may be an overabundance of Mask Shops (seriously they are too many there) and market stalls selling hats (you will definitely need one of them) there is also an everlasting presence of artist’s studios and writing workshops at the many art and writing exhibitions. The artistic verbosity is visible everywhere.
Alta Acqua Liberia
A book shop right on the canal. Off the Calle Pinelli, this small book shop is stuffed full of books and opens onto the canal and is famous with as many people coming in to buy books as to take selfies. Books are piled up to the roof, they’re stuffed into gondolas and crammed into every corner.
Sight Seeing Boat Tours
While this may be a little touristy there is no other way to really get a good idea of what makes up the Venetian islands unless you have your own boat and a friend who has a thing for Venetian history. There are islands in Venice that are home to completely abandoned monasteries, other islands dotted with delapitated residencies of old barons that have not had anyone in them for decades. It’s startling to see just how well the tourism in this city is directed away from these old, secret gems.
SAINT MARK’S BASILICA
Recommended viewing of this is either crack of dawn in the morning where the colours are muted and chilled and the grandeur of this cathedral square can be fully appreciated without that many tourists, selfie takers and those guys selling fidget spinners. You can’t go to Venice without coming here to marvel at one of the world’s most treasured architectural master pieces- that is slowly but surely sinking into the sea.
WHERE TO EAT
Food is important in Venice. To cater to all nations you’ll find American fast food restaurants, kebab shops, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, all easily accessible from the main tourist routes, but the best restaurants are away from these roads. Take a walk away from the crowds over half a dozen bridges, listen out for the live music outside the best niche restaurants, listen to the happy chatter of locals drinking beer and the smell of grilled meat and you’ll find the best restaurants just like we did with the unbelievable meat platters!
WHAT TO REMEMBER
Hats, there is a reason why every market stall sells hats, you’ll need one. The sun in this city is merciless and when it rains it doesn’t manage much more than a meagre drizzle.
Water too, although while you can buy bottles of water from every shop (some of them give them to you with any purchase) there are fountains dotted throughout the city that offer clean drinking water.
The humidity factor in the city is astonishing. Which is also why you should pack extra socks, underpants and a stick of some roll-on deoderant.
VENICE FOR BUSINESS
Wifi on a street level is pretty poor here unless you’re with the local operators. But the wifi in the hotels and residences is quite reliable; also Venice is a hive of undercurrent activities; business people meet here to enjoy the Italian style, to seal the deal over some Italian wine, to “break bread” together and build relationships that will last a long time. Relationships founded in Venice last because as an improbable city it defies nature and probability.
When to do Business, dressing, kissing and gesturing
Lunch time is too hot for business, while British culture does a lot of “lunch time” business meetings, do not expect the Venetians to reciprocate, their lunch times are for relaxing. Don’t do it, it’ll be overbearing and rude.
Italian style is famous. Venetian style is legendary. A shirt and a jacket are a must and keep a tie handy. First impressions are very important and making the effort goes a long way in the way of credibility.
If it hasn’t happened before it could catch you off guard, but it isn’t strange for the Venetians to kiss each other on the side of the cheek. It’s better to let them initiate this and not to assume anything.
HOW LONG TO STAY
Three days was perfect for a Venice trip. It offers enough of the opportunity to enjoy what the city has to offer without becoming bored. There is only so much architecture, masks, sunshine and canals that one can have before you start spending more time on your phone.