Last Updated: May 14, 2018.
Itinerary-related FAQ at bottom of page.
(pdf file for download):
Is Venice safe to wander around without a guide?
Venice is very safe during the day and reasonably safe at night, as long as you take the normal precautions: stay in sight of your buddy, avoid getting drunk, and stick to well-lit streets after dark. Pickpocketing is a hazard in any crowded tourist area; keep your valuables in front pockets or a travel belt and keep a close eye on your phone. In Venice it’s easy (and fun!) to get lost, but it’s hard to stay lost; ultimately you’ll hit the lagoon or Grand Canal, after which it isn’t difficult to find your way back to a main campo or bridge and get your bearings.
Any clothing restrictions?
Some churches do not permit visitors with bare shoulders, midriffs, or legs, so please avoid packing a wardrobe full of shorts and tank tops; the famous Basilica di San Marco, in particular, requires shoulders and knees to be covered. Women should keep in mind that exposed cleavage, stomachs, and thighs may attract unwanted attention and crude behavior or comments from some men. Shorts are generally only worn by children, Germans and Americans, so although you can wear them (as long as you’re not visiting a church), you might wish to avoid them and dress in a more suitably European fashion.You’ll be doing a lot of walking on hard cobblestones. Sneaker-style hiking shoes would be a wise investment. Bring sneakers, at least.Bring layers for warmth (average May temps run from 55-70 degrees; when we ran this trip in 2011 it hit the 90s!) and bring your umbrellas and raincoats (average rainfall in May is 2.7 inches, but when we ran this trip in 2013 we experienced storms and acqua alta). Note that cobblestone streets are slippery when wet and that acqua alta may flood entire streets.
Is there wi-fi so I can email and blog?
The palazzo we’re renting has wi-fi and Venice has numerous internet cafes where you can pay to use the provided computers or, in some cases, plug in your laptop.While we’re talking electronics, remember to bring plug adapters for laptops and both plug adapters and voltage adapters for other electronics you may bring, such as your electric razor or blowdryer (unless they run at both 110 and 220). You generally do not need voltage adapters for computers or camera battery rechargers.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes; you can drink water from the faucet in Venice. Bottled water abounds if you prefer to be cautious, however.
I have food allergies or restrictive eating preferences; will I find anything to eat in Italy?
Italy is a gourmet’s paradise, but it doesn’t always cater to eating restrictions. You’ll have a hard time finding gluten-free pasta, for example, but as long as you can eat regular enriched wheat pasta, going meatless won’t be a problem for you. There are a few vegetarian restaurants in Venice, as well. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you may want to avoid all seafood dishes as a matter of precaution; restaurants might not be scrupulous about preparing shellfish dishes in separate pots and pans. JewishVenice offers advice on finding kosher food.We intend to rent a palazzo with a kitchen, so you will have the option of shopping and cooking for yourself during much of the trip, although sometimes we’ll be out all day and eating in restaurants. We recommend that for the duration of the trip you relax any voluntary eating restrictions you’ve imposed upon yourself and enjoy the full Italian culinary experience. Be aware that strict religious or medical food restrictions may not always be easy to satisfy on the road.Please note that although some meals will be provided, you will be asked to pay for your beverages entirely on your own.
I use a wheelchair; will I have problems getting around?
Unfortunately, yes; the streets of Venice are narrow and paved with uneven stones, and they abound with stairs and bridges. There is very little accommodation for wheelchairs in buildings — most are extremely old and have only stairwells — or on mass transit such as trains and boats. Moreover, there are no railings between the streets and the canals if the crowds get pushy, as they sometimes do. This trip will be walking-intensive and is not a good choice for anyone who has a mobility impairment.
Are there ATMs? Are credit cards usually accepted?
Yes to both. It’s always a good idea to check with your bank to find out about international ATM-use or credit-card-use surcharges that may be incurred and to notify them that you’ll be overseas. Most of the main tourist shops and large restaurants will be happy to accept your credit card, but having cash is a good idea for smaller neighborhood shops, grocery stores, vaporetto tickets, and cafes. Consider bringing an ATM card with you and getting your euros at a bank in Venice, rather than exchanging money at LAX. Note that many ATMs in Italy have a 250 euro/day withdrawal limit.
Will there be time to shop?
Of course! We’ll ask that you restrain your consumer impulses during the painting/touring part of the class but, in return, we’ll give you plenty of time to browse around on your own; remember, you’ll be in the city over a week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up souvenirs.If you plan to buy a lot, consider setting aside enough money to mail it home from Venice. Shipping internationally from the Venetian post office is a bit of a challenge, so set aside an hour or two to take into account the lines and the paperwork. Also, remember that we’ll be traveling by train for the last few days, and your professors assure you from personal experience that you don’t want to do that while hauling around more than one suitcase and backpack.
What if I want to continue traveling through Italy/Europe after the class is over?
In 2016 you will be expected to make your own airline reservations and meet us in Venice, so it should be easy for you to arrange for personal post-trip travel. You’ll find it very easy to meet up with friends or family in Florence, which has an airport, or to travel from Florence by train to another destination.