Piazza San Marco is breathtaking (and taken over by pigeons); Murano is a must see (and everybody sees it); dinner on the Grand Canal is tough to beat (and tough to afford); but there is another side to Venice, a side that few people see because it isn't in the guidebooks or at the top of the list on Yelp.
If you want, I can bring you there, and here's the best part--it's gratis (a word you don't see in Venice much.) No grazie needed; That's our mission at the Not So Beaten Track.
#1 Do drink the water. That's right, don't waste a Euro on bottled mineral water, get your water from the 181 functioning water fountains throughout the Lagoon City, almost all located within the numerous campi, the large open areas. The fountains date back to the years before an aqueduct was constructed to bring fresh water to the city, but still function, and pour more than 80 million gallons of clean (city tests regularly) water every year. It's history, economy and agua all at the same time.
#3 Do take a day trip to Verona. After a few days walking the crowded alleys of Venice, especially in the busy summer, a day trip is in order, and Verona is just an hour away on the Frecciarossa high-speed train. And there is a reason Shakespeare chose this city as the setting for Romeo and Juliet--it's spectacular. Also, the wide streets and the hilly terrain are in perfect contrast to the flat, narrow Calles of Venice. Don't forget to have a Cafe Latte on the Piazza del Erbe, and do see the Chiesa di Sant' Anastasia, the very imposing Gothic cathedral just off the square. Keep going to the bridge over the Adige river, and take a stroll up the hill on the other side for great views of the city and a Birra Moretti at the cafe on top.
#4 Do spend an afternoon biking on the Lido. Lido is a biker's paradise--it's flat, scenic, and there are gelatto shops everywhere. So take the number six Vaporetto from Zarrete and get going. The best bike shop is right on the main drag; for the handful of coins in your pocket you can rent a very serviceable bike for a few hours. Ask for a map, although you probably don't need one. The ride down to the beach and then out to the pier and back is a good option, and make sure you walk the beach for shells, because nobody picks them up and there are multitudes of intact specimens.
#5 Do have a drink at the Corner Pub. One of the best parts of travel is finding that spot where the locals go. In Dorsoduro, one of the six sestiere of Venice, that's the Corner Pub. How can I be sure? It's called research, my friend, and I like to do it the old-fashioned way, with boots on the ground. Try a Spritz, which is the current rage in town, a mixture of Campari, Prosecco and club soda. The draught beer is excellent, especially the local Birra Moretti, and the wine selection is extensive. But it's the atmosphere that brought me back again and again; the place has flat out charm. You can sit inside one of the cozy rooms inside, stand at the outside bar (my favorite) or sit on the bridge around the corner and watch the people go by. Cheers!
Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include THE INTERN, a novel based loosely on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad; ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; and THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; Peter can be found on his Author Website as well as his personal blog, PeterHogenkampWrites, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the founder and editor of The Book Stops Here, the literary blog for readers and writers written by authors, editors, agents, publishers and poets; the founder and moderator of groups on Facebook (The Library), Google+ (Fiction Writers Anonymous); and the chief of three tribes on Triberr, The Big Thrill, Fiction Writers and The Book Shelf. Peter tweets--against the wishes of his wife and four children--at @phogenkampvt and @theprosecons. Peter can be reached at email@example.com or through his literary agent (Liz Kracht of Kimberely Cameron & Associates) at firstname.lastname@example.org.