Beautiful, romantic, and fashionable, Venice can also be a little crowded at times; that’s why my favourite time to visit is autumn. Don’t let the thought of anything but blue skies put you off. Dress in a warm coat and elegant sunglasses, and the gentle, warm sunshine, and even a chilly morning, can provide a totally different perspective on the city.
Autumn is when you can find yourself alone in the maze of tiny side streets, or at the canal side with the water lapping gently against the side of a solitary gondola. Early mornings are the most treasured times for me, the atmosphere is calm, sometimes eyrie, as the sun rises and the lagoon’s mist starts to lift. The locals, more relaxed now, make their way to work and have more time to smile and chat, I like to sit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, or a Prosecco with lunch. I love the Rialto food market where locals buy their produce, the squares where children play football and residents meet up with friends, this is true Venetian living, and a side of the city not every visitor gets to see.
For me, the atmosphere is everything and just as valuable as the sights and activities which prove so popular with other visitors. Having said that, another reason I love Venice at this time of year is the opportunity to discover the city’s ancient paintings and surprising oriental architecture, which have remained unchanged for centuries. The grand buildings of the Doges Palace, once the opulent gothic home of the most powerful elected ruler of the Serenissima Republic, the Piazza San Marco with its magnificent Byzantine-Venetian Basilica, and the pretty Rialto Bridge are much less crowded. The wonderful Gallerie dell’ Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Collection have shorter queues, as well as opportunities to get up close and see details not always possible at other times. Then there are the glass blowing shops, where skilled artisans craft pieces from designs which have been and hand handed down through the generations, and the silk merchants, with historical connections to the orient where Marco Polo first explored; all of this for me makes Venice an extremely unique and historical city.
Finally, another excellent reason to visit in the autumn, are the reasonable hotel rates. Hotels, usually full during peak periods, sometimes offer promotional rates, so rather than staying on the outskirts of the city, I can enjoy a beautiful, historic city centre hotel for a great price. My favourites are the small boutique style hotels which occupy the typical 14th century Venetian palaces, furnished with sumptuous traditional, Art Deco, or contemporary interiors. For me, a stay in one of these hotels makes an autumn holiday in Venice my absolute favourite time to visit.