Arriving in Venice this time was something else, since it was good London variety pea soup fog. It was so much so that the KLM flight could not get to the gate (presumably for fear of ramming the airport). We had a truck with the unlikely orange flashing sign on it that said "Follow Me" that led us to an outer reach where we were transported by bus. It got a little better during the day, but you can see the fog from my room (some of the same views) that night. I've changed them to black and white, which somehow captures the sense of it better.
Whenever I can afford it (summer rates/Carnevale expensive; December rates cheaper than the Courtyard Marriott), I stay at the Hotel Pesaro Palace. It is a magnificent hotel, and I would never choose to stay anywhere else in Venice (and now that I have been to the city somewhere around 15 times and stayed at the Pesaro three of those times, I think I can say I've tried a lot of others. Here's their website:
As I've said before, I didn't like Venice my first time (in the 1990s) because I was poor, it was very crowded, and I stayed in the first available cheap lodging since I hadn't planned the trip (I had arrived in Wolfenbüttel for a fellowship to find everything closed for 4 days for Whitsun. So I just hopped on the train and decided why not?
But Venice is a city that grows quickly on you -- at least if you had enough money to afford a good hotel, especially one with a view. More than any other city I can think of, where you stay matters (and I have stayed at about 7 or 8 different hotels during my trips. But I've settled on the Pesaro, except sometimes in summer when it is too expensive. I'm also starting to really prefer the winter trips since the cruise ships don't stop in Venice then and you have the city to yourself. While it was busier in January than when I was there 5 wks earlier, it still was wonderfully small city-ish. And the fog disappeared after the first day.
I imagine that it must be really nice to go during a time when you can feel like you have (and indeed actually have) Venice all to yourself. Especially when one knows first hand the unpleasantness of experiencing it with throngs and hoards of tourists. I've only been there during "throng and hoard" seasons (Spring and Summer), but I discovered last trip (by accident - had to get one daughter to VCE by 6am one morning) that by getting up very early and strolling the canals and lanes before the tourists arise, provides a very quiet, peaceful and lovely experience. I can only imagine how incredible it would be to be able to enjoy that experience all day long!
LOVE the photos!
Thanks, Pluto -- both trips were magical, though December more so with the tasteful Christmas lights and even fewer people. Just walking into San Marco and the campanile -- what a thought! Plus it really had the little city feel to it that it technically is (65,000 inhabitants), but which I'd only first experienced a year ago.
My best guess is that mostly non-Italians visit Venice, and even more so at Christmastime. But for others in the world, it's time off for a lot of people. January (esp. late) is often close to the beginning of Carnevale. Last year at the end of January I saw lots of people already wearing masks. Another reason may be simple fear of bad weather, though I had better weather in December this year than January. But I think November may cast its shadow -- with acqua alta, galoshes in Piazza San Marco, etc. I would actually like to experience that someday since I go so often, but I imagine for people with once in a lifetime dreams of Venice, it wouldn't be ideal.
Actually, winter is hit or miss so many places in Europe. When I lived in Paris for two years in the 1980s, I cannot describe how horrible the weather was. There might have been a good week here or there between Oct-April (I remember one where there was almost a foot of snow, but at least there was blue sky). To me Paris can be a very depressing place in winter, because it's usually drizzly, 40-50 degrees and you so seldom see the sun. The sun was very present in all three of my (1) December and (2) January trips to Venice, despite the fog on arrival two weeks ago.
Another reason for more people in January might be university breaks. I know a lot of my students try to take advantage to travel in January if they've fulfilled their JanPlan requirements, and the same may be true for Europeans and Asians (there were many East Asians there in January, but not December). MANY is a very relative term, of course.
All told I would say my least favorite months for Venice are May (VERY CROWDED), and June, July and August (a little less crowded than May for reasons that I suspect also have to do with the school year ending), but often very hot. When it's very, very hot, Venice is usually a better place to be than other parts of Italy, but the vaporetto can become a seething human sweat bin on water. (Wow, I just came up with that.)