Is Venice worth visiting in 2022? Here’s my verdict after battling hordes of tourists, basic bellinis and no warm welcome

Dragging two heavy wheeled bags over bridges and cobblestones, fighting their way through the wall of other people doing the same thing; all of us dressed as “I’m a tourist!” jackets, an apocalyptic thought arises: is Venice really worth it?

By then, just 9 a.m., rowdier tourists had woken up and were pouring out of their Airbnbs onto the streets with plastic cups of Aperol spritz, some containing two or even three. Every time I thought I was making progress another water bus would dock and spit up more travelers – all lost, all blasting their google maps so several of us started following each other’s directions.

After an hour of excruciating interaction with Siri, I stumbled upon my hotel and knocked on the door. I was here, I could relax; I might even be offered a Nespresso and a biscotti.

Not only was there no warm welcome, there wasn’t even a foyer, nor the concept of early check-in. Plus, the owner barked, he didn’t have a permit to store the bags – I had to cross two more cobblestone bridges to reach the locker storage store (€20) – until my room was available at 3 p.m. At this point, I was saying and thinking unspeakable things about Venice.

At the end of a small alley, I found a place to store my suitcases out of sight, not caring if they disappeared. I had just dragged them across 17 bridges – good luck to whoever wanted to do the same. I took my place in a bakery queue with no tourists (no down jackets) and emerged with green olive focaccia sprinkled with oregano; salami and cheese rolls; and brioche rolls.

I took my picnic and suitcases to sit on the canal steps and watch the river traffic: young men driving their speedboats on soaring angles, girls clicking their tongues at macho bravado. The sun warmed my face as the seagulls circled. It’s Venice, that’s why we bother, I chastised myself, eyes and heart full of wonder.

My corny end didn’t last. When checking in, I discovered that my hotel only had shared bathrooms and the hot water was sporadic. I made a date with an equally harassed friend for a drink at Harry’s Bar at six o’clock. Yes, that was the obvious option, but hey, we’d both had a rough day.

After pushing through the crowds of the city, when I arrived he was desperate. We wouldn’t drown our sorrows here: Harry’s bellinis were €22 each, and the young American at the table next to him was loudly bragging about having tested positive for COVID yesterday – but felt fine. We downed our bellinis (not even that great) and ran outside to get some fresh air.

Oh, Venice. You kill me every time.

The July issue of AFR Magazine – The Culinary & Travel Issue – came out Friday, June 24 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and instagram.

About Juana Jackson

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