I Heart My City: Igor’s Venice
Venice native Igor Scomparin led tours all over Europe with Globus for a decade before returning home to be a “local host” for Monograms. Now, this tourism industry veteran’s mission is to show the real, authentic Venice to travelers who come to visit his homeland. Here’s a look at the “city of canals” through the ultimate local’s eyes.
Venice Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the lively Rialto Market. Here, they’ll see the catch of the day and smell the scents of tomatoes, apricots, peaches, and cherries.
Autumn is the best time to visit my city because it is less crowded and more pleasant, weather-wise.
Dorsoduro is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs, such as lovely little handmade necklaces, glass rings, and gondolier shoes made from bicycle tires.
My city’s best museum is Palazzo Ducale because it’s home to paintings by Italian masters like Veronese and Tintoretto, as well as the amazing prisons where Giacomo Casanova, the “Latin lover,” escaped.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to wear very comfortable shoes. We have more than 400 bridges that keep residents and travelers in good shape.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is in the area around the Venetian Arsenal or along the Via Garibaldi in the Castello district, an incredible section of the city that hasn’t changed at all in centuries. Here, you’ll find the best photos of laundry hanging from buildings.
My city really knows how to celebrate the Feast of the Redeemer, a local festival that has taken place in July since the late 16th century. We enjoy fireworks and gondola competitions along the Grand Canal as part of the fun.
You can tell if someone is from my city if, when in St. Mark’s Square, they go around the columns instead of through them. The columns mark execution spots and Venetians are superstitious. We believe that if you go through the columns, you will have bad luck.
For a fancy night out, I suggest going into St. Mark’s Square to experience one of Venice’s oldest cafés, and to listen to classical music. The entire square is illuminated, giving it a romantic atmosphere.
Just outside my city, you can visit Burano, a lovely and colorful fisherman’s village that’s also renowned for its lace.
My city is known for being busy and crowded, but I’d prefer people embraced it as a great place to get lost. It’s an island and getting “lost” is the best way to experience it.
The best outdoor market in my city is the Rialto Market where you can find fresh fish, fruit, and meat—as well as the best “street food” in Venice.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Un Ospite di Venezia (A Guest in Venice), an online magazine and tourist information guide.
My city’s biggest sports event is the annual Regata Storica, a rowing competition featuring the best gondoliers in Venice. Watch it along the Grand Canal on the first Sunday in September.
To escape the crowds, I go to Cannaregio, the northernmost of Venice’s six sestieres, which includes the historic Jewish district. It’s a lovely and incredibly quiet area, away from the tourists. Going to the Lido, a seven-mile sandbar in the city, is another great option.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Al Pacino because it’s lively and always full of action.
The dish that represents my city best is anything from the sea. We’re on the water and you’ll never go wrong when you order seafood. Try mixed fried fish with polenta and spritz, my city’s signature cocktail.
The Guggenheim is my favorite building in town because the exhibitions are great and the view from the terrace is fantastic.
The most random thing about my city is acqua alta, high tides that flood the streets, bringing the entire island to a halt. In 2013, we experienced nearly 60 days of high tide.
Stealing a gondola along the Grand Canal and being stopped by the police could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should take a long walk around the island and get lost.
In the summer you should go to the Lido beach to experience the Venice Film Festival.
In the fall you should go to the island of Burano and enjoy fresh seafood.
In the winter you should eat in a local café and, if you are lucky enough, enjoy the snow.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss a football (soccer) match in a local campo (square) with the local kids.
The best book about my city is Venetian Legends and Ghost Stories, by Alberto “Toso Fei, because you will learn about the city’s local stories and history.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Ciao Venezia.”
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it’s an incredible melting pot of culture and style; a romantic city with dramatic scenery and views (especially at night).