SIXTY-THOUSAND people visit Venice every day in high season and most of them, I’d guess, never see more than a fraction of the city.

They mostly pack into St Mark’s Square or crowd onto the Rialto bridge and then they’re gone, back to their buses at Piazzale Roma and the mainland or back to their cruise ships and on to the next stopover.

They may even tell friends and family afterwards that Venice is just too crowded. And that is true of the part they saw. Indeed I once heard an American backpacker in the streets behind the basilica complain that the streets should have been built wider in anticipation of the crowds. I was never sure that he was joking.


The Molino Stucky building, now a hotel on the Giudecca

Yet there are so many other places to go. One of my favourite trips is to the Giudecca, a short journey that few visitors seem to make (unless they’re rich enough to be staying at the Molino Stucky hotel or the Cipriani), yet the Giudecca’s vaporetto stops of Zittelle and Redentore are only a short hop from the San Marco crowds.

And it doesn’t matter that tourist honeypots are in short supply on this largely residential island – although there is Palladio’s magnificent Redentore church – because the views back towards San Marco are worth the journey on their own. They’re even better when enjoyed with a beer and a snack at a table right on the edge of the Giudecca canal.

Except when those cruise liners slip their moorings and head off to their next stop of course. Then this happens…


P&O’s 116,000-tonne cruise ship Ventura about to block out the view from the Giudecca. (2008)