Depending on who you talk to, Venice is either a captivating and maze-like wonderland where getting lost is the best thing you can do, or it is a smelly and crowded tourist trap with bad (not to mention expensive) food. As with most things, there is a bit of truth to both sides of the coin. The floating city of Venice is certainly going to attract hordes of tourists, especially in the summer, and space is limited – so obviously there will be crowds. The food is not the best you will have in Italy, but there are ways to avoid the worst of it. As for the odor, there are those who say during the summers the canals are always a little on the smelly side and those who swear they have never smelled a thing during July and August visits. All Venice asks is this – come with an open mind.
There are sights to see in Venice, of course – the Byzantine masterpiece St. Mark’s Basilica, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” a great collection of modern art in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum – but the real sight in Venice is the city itself. It would behoove you to get thoroughly lost as often as possible (you can always find your way “home” again by asking for directions to St. Mark’s Square), getting away from the crowds which tend to congregate in a few areas and seeing what is left of Venice’s population. You may find yourself stumbling upon a gondola workshop, vegetable market (on a boat, naturally) or a friendly game of bocce. Whatever you do, just do not assume that you know Venice until you have tried it on for size.