My advice to you, should you decide to visit Venice, is . . . don't bother to buy a street map.
Because a map will not help you. At all.
You see, Venice is not like other cities.
No, my friends. Venice is One Giant Corn Maze!
Maps are not helpful. (Because no one pays attention to street names, which change frequently and rather inexplicably.)
Your own "inner compass" is not helpful. (Because the entire city is as sea level. There are no hills or other landmarks to guide you. Basically, there is no visible horizon.)
Every time you think you have it figured out, you deadend into water! (Because Venice is made up of 118 islands, connected by canals and bridges. Lots of bridges. And you always seem to be on the wrong one.)
There are alleys and shortcuts and deadends and . . . well. It's like a maze.
There are street signs . . . and there are also directional signs (with arrows) that point visitors to major attactions. But, they never seem to be there when you need them. Sometimes, there are hand-written directional signs. You follow. . . hoping it's not someone's idea of a joke on the tourists!
We found that it's best if you can just . . . let go . . . and let yourself get a little lost (because it's just gonna happen in Venice!). You see interesting things; you discover less-touristy spots; and you can always rest with a glass of wine!
We only lost our "spirit of adventure" when we really, really needed to find a bathroom . . . but kept going in circles instead. That was a bit stressful. Also, it was incredibly annoying when a local protest march went through the streets -- blowing LOUD whistles to attract attention. And they did. For an extended period of time. No worries, though, as we took refuge in a shop specializing in leather bags. (Don't mind if we do. . . )
We had great luck using Rick Steves' walking guides to help us see what we wanted to see and navigate through the streets and alleyways of Venice.
But even with his turn-by-turn instructions, we STILL got lost! (Mostly because his walks got us there -- but it was hard to turn them around to head back to your starting point.)
It was wild. It felt a little more like an adventure than some of our travels. It was like nothing we'd ever experienced before!
We LOVED it!
Next time, I'll take you along on a gondola ride! Until then --