advertisement

Acqua Alta -- During the notorious tidal acqua alta (high water) floods, the lagoon backwashes into the city, leaving up to 1.5 to 1.8m (5-6 ft.) of water in the lowest-lying streets (Piazza San Marco, as the lowest point in the city, goes first). These floods can start as early as late September or October, usually taking place November to March. As many as 50 a year have been recorded since they first started in the late 1700s. The waters usually recede after just a few hours and are often virtually gone by noon. Walkways are set up around town, but wet feet are a given. The complex system of hydraulic dams being constructed out in the lagoon to cut off these high tides (a controversial project due to its environmental impact, whose progress ebbs and flows depending on who is in government) is well underway but won't be operational for years.

American Express -- Unfortunately, American Express closed its Venice office in 2009, leaving offices only in Milan and Rome.

Business Hours -- Standard hours for shops are 9am to 12:30pm and 3 to 7:30pm Monday to Saturday. In winter, shops are closed on Monday morning, while in summer it's usually Saturday afternoon. Most grocers are closed on Wednesday afternoon year-round. In Venice, just about everything is closed on Sunday, though tourist shops in the tourist spots such as the San Marco area are permitted to stay open during high season. Restaurants are required to close at least 1 day a week, called il giorno di riposo, though the particular day varies from one trattoria to another. Many are open for Sunday lunch but close for Sunday dinner. Restaurants that specialize in fish and seafood also typically close Monday, when the fish market is closed. Restaurants will close for holidays, translated as chiuso per ferie, sometime in July or August, frequently over Christmas, and sometime in January before the Carnevale rush.

Climate -- May, June, September, and early October are the best months with respect to weather to visit (and the most crowded). July and August are hot -- at times, unbearably so. April and late October/early November are hit-or-miss; it can be either glorious or cool, rainy, and damp, and only marginally less crowded.

Consulates -- The nearest U.S. Consulate is in Milan at Via Principe Amedeo 2/10 (tel. 02-290-351). It's open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5:30pm. The U.K. Consulate in Venice is on the mainland in Mestre, at Piazzale Donatori di Sangue 2 (tel. 041-505-5990); it's open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm. Like the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have consulates in Milan, about 3 hours away by train; all also maintain embassies in Rome. The Canadian Consulate closed its office in Milan in 2007; emergencies can be directed to the embassy in Rome (tel. 06-854-441).

Crime -- Be aware of petty crime like pickpocketing on the crowded vaporetti, particularly the tourist routes, where passengers are more intent on the passing scenery than on watching their bags. Venice's deserted back streets were once virtually crime-proof; occasional tales of theft are circulating only recently. Generally speaking, it's one of Italy's safest cities.

Drugstores -- Venice's pharmacies take turns staying open all night. To find out which one is on call in your area, ask at your hotel and check the rotational duty signs posted outside all drugstores.

Emergencies -- In Venice and throughout Italy, dial tel. 113 to reach the police. Some Italians will recommend that you forgo the police and try the military-trained Carabinieri (tel. 112). For an ambulance, phone tel. 523-0000. To report a fire, dial tel. 115, 041-520-0222, or 041-520-0223. For any tourism-related complaint (rip-offs, exceedingly shoddy service, and so on), dial the special agency Venezia No Problem toll-free at tel. 800-355-920.

Fax -- From both the main post office and its Piazza San Marco branch, you can send faxes to almost any destination, with the odd exception of the United States. For service to the United States, ask at your hotel; most will agree to do it for either a per-page or an estimated-per-minute cost. Or look for SERVIZIO FAX signs in the windows of cartolerie (stationery stores).

Holidays -- Venice's patron saint, San Marco (St. Mark), is honored on April 25.

Hospitals -- The Ospedale Civile Santi Goivanni e Paolo (tel. 041-785111), on Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, has English-speaking staff and provides emergency service 24 hours a day (vaporetto: San Toma).

Internet Access -- For checking e-mail, you have many options around the city. Try Venetian Navigator, Castello 5300 on Calle Caselleria between San Marco and Campo Santa Maria Formosa (tel. 041-277-1056; www.venetiannavigator.com; vaporetto: San Marco, Zaccaria, Rialto), daily 10am to 10pm from May through October and until 8:30pm the rest of the year, which charges 4.50€ for 30 minutes and 8€ per hour (6€ per hour with a Rolling Venice card). Venetian Navigator has another Internet point near the Rialto bridge, at San Marco 5239 on Calle Stagneri. Near the train station, you'll find VeNice Internet Point, at Lista di Spagna 149 (when you come out of the station, turn left and it'll be on your right before you come to the first campo), which is open daily 9am to 11pm and charges the same fees as Venetian Navigator.

Laundry -- The laundry service most convenient to San Marco is Gabriella (tel. 041-522-1758), San Marco 985 on Rio Terrà Colonne (off Calle dei Fabbri), where they wash and dry your clothes for you within an hour or two for 16€ per load. They are open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 7pm. There is a self-service laundromat at Castello 4826, on Calle Corte Rotta just north of the San Zaccaria church. It costs 5.50€ to wash a large load of laundry and 4.50€ to dry. They are open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 11pm and Sunday 9:30am to 9:30pm.

Lost & Found -- The central Ufficio Oggetti Rinvenuti (tel. 041-274-8225) is in the annex to the City Hall (Municipio), at San Marco 4134, on Calle Piscopia o Loredan, just off Riva del Carbon on the Grand Canal, near the Rialto Bridge (on the same side of the canal as the Rialto vaporetto station). Look for scala (stairway) C; the lost-and-found office is in the Economato section on the mezzanino level, one flight up. The office is ostensibly open only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30am to 12:30pm, but someone is usually available weekdays from 9:30am until the building closes at 1:30pm.

There's also an Ufficio Oggetti Smarriti at the airport (tel. 041-260-9260). The train station no longer has a lost-and-found, so if you lose something on the train or in the station, definitely talk to the police (they have a small office next to Track 1), but they are likely to direct you to the central Ufficio Oggetti Rinvenuti in the city hall annex.

Luggage Storage -- The deposito bagagli in the train station (tel. 041-785-531) is open daily from 6am to 11:50pm and charges 4€ for each bag for the first 5 hours, and then 60¢ for each additional hour through the 12th hour. Then it's 20¢ an hour.

Mail -- Venice's Posta Centrale is at San Marco 5554, 30124 Venezia, on the San Marco side of the Rialto Bridge at Rialto Fontego dei Tedeschi (tel. 041-271-7111 or 041-528-5813; vaporetto: Rialto). This office sells stamps at Window 12 Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6:30pm (for parcels, 8:10am-1:30pm). If you're at Piazza San Marco and need postal services, walk through Sottoportego San Geminian, the center portal at the opposite end of the piazza from the basilica on Calle Larga dell'Ascensione. Its usual hours are Monday to Friday 8:30am to 2pm and Saturday 8:30am to 1pm. You can buy francobolli (stamps) at any tabacchi (tobacconists). The limited mailboxes seen around town are red.

Police -- In an emergency, dial tel. 112 or 113.

Travel Agencies -- Intras City Service, at Santa Croce 1303b (tel. 041-275-0783), is centrally located, as is Kele e Teo, on the Mercerie 4930 (tel. 041-520-8722; fax 041-520-8913; www.keleteo.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.