5 February 2013

The ultimate insider guide to Venice

Last year I began making reluctant plans to leave the city where I had lived part-time for five years. I love Venice and through www.italyheaven.co.uk I have shared my knowledge of the city with travellers, hoping that others will get as much out of their stay as I have. I made the decision to go further, and to spend my last months in Venice creating a guidebook which would take advantage of e-book formats to include as much information as the visitor could want, without the burden of carrying a heavy volume around all day.

Venice is a city best enjoyed in leisurely walks off the beaten track. So the centrepiece of the guidebook is a chapter containing seven walking itineraries. Based on lots of exploration and my favourite scenic routes, these walks all have different characters, and they pass almost all the city's finest sights, while avoiding the crowds. The walk directions include some background information on the sights you pass, and links to full descriptions of the museums, churches and galleries on the walk. Each walk can be enjoyed simply as a pleasant ramble, or as a basis for an in-depth exploration of the city and its attractions. If you spend a week in Venice and follow all seven walks, you will really get to know the city in a way that few outsiders ever achieve.

It is always a sad sight to see tourists being fleeced in bad tourist restaurants, or arguing about the bill with waiters on the lanes outside. No-one wants a good holiday experience spoiled by the bitter feeling of having been ripped off. So a listing of reliable, good-value restaurants was a crucial part of the guidebook. Along with practical advice and tips on dining in Venice, and eating on a budget.

I wanted to create the ultimate guide to Venice. A book that could be a quick handbook for enjoying a leisurely weekend, with easy itineraries and suggestions - or a reference volume to be dipped into and used again and again by repeat visitors or new residents. The book I would have found invaluable myself, during my first couple of years in the city. And beyond that, I wanted to share my love for the city, for its people, for its secrets and for the Venice so many tourists fail to discover. I want to introduce other travellers to the charms of real Venice - so much more than the crowds in St Mark's Square - in the hope that they will come to know and love the city too. To share all the most fascinating hidden corners, the most curious stories and the cheapest, most homespun eateries.

I thought I knew the city well, but I discovered a world of fresh, interesting facts, anecdotes and histories when researching the book. Several of these were new even to lifelong Venetians. Seeing the surprise on a Venetian face: " A Madonna with a gun? In St Mark's?" "There's no Carpaccio on San Giorgio!" or simply "I've never noticed that before, thank you," was a great compliment. I hope that whether you are visiting Venice for the first time, or know it well and want to discover even more, the guidebook will be a helpful and entertaining companion.

> Venice: Italy Heaven Guide (Kindle, Amazon.co.uk)
Venice: Italy Heaven Guide (Kindle, Amazon.com - US)
Venice: Italy Heaven Guide from Kobobooks (Epub format) icon
Epub format from Smashwords

(The cover photograph, incidentally, is one of my favourite views in Venice, from Ponte Trevisan in Dorsoduro, visited on the walking itinerary "A Dorsoduro Ramble")

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