Venice isn’t the city that has IT happening. It isn’t a hipster place where underground vibes take you to new surprising corners and ideas. Venice is a city of the past. It is a place that understandably lives on romance and imagination. I could see myself here, heading through the narrow streets and canals, on my way to a masquerade ball whistling the lyrics “when the moon hits your eye, with a big sunset sky that’s amore!”.
But how affordable is Romance in times of crisis?

First of all let’s be honest Venice is a pretty expensive city. But there are ways to enjoy romance and have a cheap stay!

The best way to get around and enjoy the Renaissance architecture reflections in the water is by skipping the gondola and taking the vaporetto.

Gondola - Venice
Woah no Gondola ride?! Let’s face it taking a gondola ride in Venice is a bit like riding a Disney Land attraction. It’s one boat after another filled with overenthusiastic people or couples nervous about popping the big question. To be honest, I almost got in line and paid €80 until the rain started pouring in. So I decided not spent so much money for a one hour umbrella ride.

The cheaper and more romantic alternative is to head up to moorish area or ghetto in the Cannarregio region. This is where you get to see the real Venice, where Venetians live, children play and fewer tourists found their way. Just start walking, get lost and enjoy the quiet and romantic back alleys. Find the shops where merchants still create masquerade masks by hand.

Cannaregio Venice

Venetian masquerade masks

Of course you don’t just want to see the back streets and miss out on the two top romantic sights; the Saint Marco Basilica and the Doge Palace. If romance is still about the bling bling than Saint Marco Basilica is you pick! The ceiling is filled with gold mosaics but luckily, the entrance is free!
The Doge Palace or Palazzo Ducale on the other hand is where passionate criminal Casanova was held captive for a while. This one isn’t free but it’s your money worth as you’ll spend a few hours to see all of this palace of wonder. Don’t forget to use a rolling Venice card here!

San Marco Basilica - Venice

But for me Romance is about an old Belgian saying: True love goes through the stomach. The saying matches perfectly with Venice, as you can plan your whole day around food here!
All over town you have osteria’s selling cicheti (Venetian tapas) – as apéro is a way of life here. Order a spritz, bellini cocktail or a good Venetian wine (my favorite choice) at the bar and enjoy the atmosphere. Standing at the bar will be a lot cheaper and easier to steal away a kiss from your loved one.

cicheti - venetian tapas
Venetian wine

In the afternoon let temptation strike at one of the many ice cream salons. Sharing your “real chocolate flavor” really isn’t necessary here since ice cream is a cheap steal.

ice cream

Having a decent meal you’ll of course you’ll want to find a nice little restaurant. A lovely osteria near Saint Marco was Da Carla . The daily fish and pasta dish were fresh and simple but also delicious and reasonably priced. Again check in advance how much you might have to pay for couvert.

Then hear the aqua alta sirens go off and come to terms with the fact that this city of the past is slowly sinking. Get a bit melancholic about it, because Venice has slowly found its way to your heart.

Aqua Alta Venice
Venice flood