Venice in the Summertime

There are many travelers who would be put off by a visit to Venice in the summertime.  They say it is hot.  And it IS hot.  They say it is humid.  And it IS humid.  They say it can be crowded.  And indeed, it can be crowded, in some areas.  But for those willing to brave the heat and humidity and on occasion the crowds, there are many compelling reasons for a summertime visit to Venice.

For one thing, the hot humid days end with warm sultry nights.  Dinner or drinks outside take on a relaxed, languid quality.  The air itself seems to shimmer and glow.  The colors of the buildings, the lagoon, the clothing of the locals, all seem brighter and more intense.  The Rialto vegetable market is at its peak and the array of colorful vegetables are a photographer’s – and a cook’s- dream.

It is not difficult to escape the crowds, either.  By staying away from Piazza San Marco and the surrounding area, one can wander along quiet, empty streets – even quieter than other times of the year, as many locals head for the beach or stay inside during the day.  A normally busy campo can be shockingly deserted on a hot August day, and a beer or cold water at a café during one of these still, quiet hours can be a not only relaxing, but even spiritual experience.

Another benefit to traveling to Venice in the summer are the numerous festivals and events that occur.

On the third weekend of July, there is the Redentore festival.  In the late 16th century, the church of the Redentore was constructed on the island of Giudecca to give thanks for the end of a terrible plague.  A pontoon bridge is constructed from the Zattere in the west of Venice over to the Redentore church, and locals, pilgrims and tourists alike are able to walk across the Giudecca canal.

pontoon                                                             (Photo Credit: Deborah Horn)

On the Saturday night of the Redentore festival, boats decked out with colored lamps and decorations fill the lagoon and traditional foods, such as Sarde in Saor (sardines preserved with a sweet and sour marinade) are consumed. Just before midnight, the most remarkable fireworks you can ever hope to see are fired off above the lagoon, after which the party goes on into the wee hours.

RedentoreFireworks

Also in late July is the 10-day long Festa San Giacomo dell’ Orio.  San Giacomo dell’ Orio is a wonderful campo in Santa Croce any time of the year.  Full of locals of all walks of life day and night, it is the favorite campo of many Venice aficionado.  Add to this the 10-day party the community puts on and you’ve got a “must” on your “to-do” list.  Dozens of communal tables are set up in the campo and hundreds of people dine nightly on grilled meat and seafood from the outdoor kitchen, accompanied by gallons of beer, wine, water and soda from the festival bar.   There is live music and – if the band is particularly hopping, dancing.  While the food is not going to win any awards, and the beer is probably better than the wine, this is a truly fun event where the traveler can enjoy some time with what seems to be every Venetian in town.

festasangiacomo                                                     (Photo Credit: Deborah Horn)

From roughly the last days of August into the first week of September Venice hosts a world-renowned international film festival.  While the red carpet on the island of Lido attracts the movie stars and paparazzi, travelers and locals can see festival films either at the Giorgione theatre in Cannaregio or at an open air theatre in Campo San Polo.  Watching a film under the stars on a warm summer night in Venice’s largest campo is one of modern Venice’s true sensory pleasures.  The theatre is usually built several weeks before the festival and movies shown off and on until opening night, after which there is a film shown every night of the festival.

If the Venice Film Festival isn’t fantastic enough on its own, there is also the Regatta Storica on the first Sunday of every September.  The “Voga alla Veneta” rowing races are and have been thoughout history an important and unique cultural event and if locals are not involved in the racing they are cheering their team on.  The main attraction of the day is the procession of historical boats, filled with people in historical costumes, that travels up the Grand Canal before the races start.  It is an extraordinarily colorful event that late summer travelers should try hard not to miss.

Every other year – and not only during the summer months – brings La Biennale, an exhibition of art,  dance, theatre, music, and architecture.  (The Venice Film Festival is part of La Biennale, but is held every year.)  In those years when the Biennale is occuring (like 2013) there are even more events to check out during the summer months.

Venice in the summertime can be so rewarding and it is a season that I love for reasons all its own.  Just make sure to get lodgings with air conditioning, and you’ll be all set.

A fun film to check out is “Summertime” with Katharine Hepburn.  It manages to capture the sultry and colorful July Venice air.

Join us for GrapeHops tour to Venice at the tail end of summer 2016 – June 15-22!

Shannon

Shannon Essa leads small-group tours focusing on wine, food, and local culture in Croatia, Slovenia, Northern Italy and Northern Spain & Portugal.

Discover the backstreets of Venice or the wine, craft beer, and slow food of Piedmont, Italy. In Spain, experience the rustic foods and low-key lifestyle in beautiful Galicia, the wineries along the Camino de Santiago in the Bierzo region, or the justifiably famous wine regions and local food traditions of Catalonia. See many of Croatia’s most beautiful sights and learn about the rebirth of one of Europe’s oldest wine areas. And see all this with Shannon, who loves unique and out of the way wine and food experiences.

When not in Europe, Shannon does her eating and drinking in San Diego, California.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.

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