You can feel the real soul of a city only by walking along its streets, getting lost in the labyrinth of small lanes, looking all around to find the right direction and asking somebody where you are. This is true for every city, especially for Venice, with its canals, bridges, narrow lanes, picturesque squares and …. no traffic! An ideal city for walking with kids, if you are carefullly prevent them from falling in the canal.
We have already recommended a good guide for visiting Venice with kids, and today we explain you the games we usually play with our children while walking along calli and campielli.
Follow the directions
Kids love treasure maps and they enthusiastically follow the arrows to get to the treausre (your destination). So download a simple map of Venice, print it, draw a red point where you are and a big red cross at Saint Mark Square or Rialto Bridge. Then just finger toward the goal and cheer your crew to go. They have just need to follow the hundreds of signs for SAN MARC or RIALTO hung everywhere along the way …
Be sure: you cannot get lost! And if you do, you will discover uncrowded places you will never forget …
Find out different streets’ names
The Italian lessons, you took at home before leaving, could be useless to find your way in Venice. Here you will walk through dozens of squares and none of them is called piazza, as in the rest of Italy. It seems incredible that only Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark Square) has this name, while the others squares are just called campi (fields) or campielli (small fields)!
Quarters are not called quartieri, but sestieri since the city has six districts. They are Castello, San Marco, Cannaregio, San Polo, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro. You will find their name quite often written on the walls.
And have a look to the hause numbers …
Yes! You read it right. That house’s number is 1523. Why? In Venice the numbers are assigned for each sestiere, not for each street. And every sestiere has thousands of houses and palazzi. You are really lucky not to be a postman here!
If your kids are getting bored while walking, ask them to discover some toponyms of this rummy city. And remember that the water ways in Venice are streets too!
If the kids are not too young, they could also try to remember the names or their meaning. Here are a useful guide:
CALLE = street (as in Spanish; in both languages from the latin word which meant path)
CANALE = a big canal
RIO = a small canal
CAMPO = square (in Italian it means field; in the past theese empty spaces were meadows or gardens)
CAMPIELLO = small square
RUGA = (street with shops. It cames from the French word rue; if you use it in other Italy’s regions the meaning is wrinkle!)
RIO TERA’ = a street built over an undergroung canal
SALIZADA = paved street (in the last centuries only the important streets were paved)
SOTOPORTEGO = covered walkway which cross a house ground floor
FONDAMENTA = road built along a canal
Count the bridges’ steps
Venice is made up of 118 small isles and they are linked each other by more than 400 bridges. Try to count how many steps you are doing each day or how many stone, wooden and iron bridges you cross along the way.
Of course, don’t miss to stop over the most picturesque in order to take some photos to gondolas.
Point the funniest boats
Before getting to Venice you knew something only about gondola and vaporetto (water bus): the most famous typical lagoon’s boats. After spending some time in the city you will discover dozens of different boats models.
As in a normal city you can see trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, hearses and police cars on the roads, then in Venice every kind of boat is dedicated to a specific activity. Keep your eyes open and point the funniest ones. You may belive it or not but we find a new one each time we visit the city …
Take photos to the lions
The winged lion is the symbol of Saint Mark, the Patron Saint of Venice. It represents the city and the ancient Republic, and you can find it everywhere. On the city’s coat of arm as on the logo of the local insurance. There’s not a corner in the city without its own lion. The golden one on the Basilica’s facade is the most valuable, but kids will madly love the two red marble lions which stand on in the north-west part of Saint Mark Square.
Keep the count of the lions you meet while walking. In the last visit we found out 78 of them in less than two hours!
Or take pictures to the most original ones …
Good to know:
- How to get here: Venice’s central station is called Venezia Santa Lucia, so don’t get off in Venezia Mestre. Highway A4, A13, A27, exit Venezia and then follow the direction to Piazzale Roma
- Where to park: the only parking spaces in Venice is at Tronchetto; they cost from € 26 per day
- water bus: if you are travelling with babies, we suggest to buy the daily/weekly ticket for the water bus (12 hour ticket costs € 18; 7 days ticket € 50). Venice has too many steps to walk all day with the stroller and each time you buy a ticket for 60 minutes you spend € 7 per person. Kids over 6 years old pay as adults.
- kids facilities: if you are looking for public toilets with baby-changing table, choose one from the linked list with the description “Servizi: Uomini / Donne / Disabili / Fasciatoio“; they are by payment
- remember to take A kids’ guide to Venice with you