When to Go in Venice

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Summer


Unfortunately, summer, the time of year when most people have vacation time is not the ideal season to visit Venice. The heat can be sticky and sometimes overwhelming. The crowds are thick (as are the mosquitoes) and a certain unpleasant stench emanates from the canals. Locals usually try to escape the islands during the summer months.

However, a few occasions warrant a summer visit. The famous Venice art festival, the Biennale, begins in early June and the inaugural events often include performances, parties, panels and interviews. Many of the exhibitions and installations are more impressive (and/or fully functional) at the beginning of the summer. A second occasion that draws summer visitors is the Festa del Redentore (Feast of the Redeemer) on the third Sunday of July. The night before the religious processions (Saturday) to the Palladian Church, Il Redentore, the city stages an extensive firework show. Locals and the well-connected watch the fireworks from boats anchored in the Bacino (the water way in front of the Piazza San Marco).

Fall

September can still be quite warm, but by October, the weather is usually pleasantly crisp. Venice’s university students return in September, but usually keep to parts of the city off the tourist tracks. The infamous high water season or “acqua alta” that causes floods in parts of the city begins in October. The city provides elevated planks for affected areas and, because “acqua alta” is caused by the tides of the Adriatic, the flooding only lasts for a couple of hours at a time.

Winter

Winter in Venice is characterized by fog and dampness. It can be rainy and cold, but rarely snows. Some claim that the fog heightens Venice’s aura of mystique. Less tourists navigate the Venetian streets during the winter months than during other seasons. The notable exception to this is the two weeks of Carnival or Carnevale when the city is inundated with merry-making visitors. Carnival ends on Martedi Grasso (Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday) which directly precedes Ash Wednesday. It runs for two weeks and the dates depend on the ecclesiastic calendar.

Spring


“Acqua alta” does still occur in the spring months, but, overall, it's a lovely time to visit the city. The weather is usually mild enough to allow one to enjoy an aperitif at an outdoor café. The tourist count increases precipitously around the Easter holidays. Groups of European school children most often tour the city in the spring.

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