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Venice...in August..with children by Niamh Barker

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Four reasons not to visit Venice with children in summer: the heat, the crowds, the smell and the expense…or that is what the travel guides tell you. I beg to differ.We are just back from the most magical week in Venice with our six children (and a boyfriend), where we discovered that provided you rent an apartment rather than book into a luxury hotel, feast on the glorious fish, cheese and bread from the morning markets rather than eat in over-priced restaurants, and stay out of the mid-day sun in Piazza San Marco, you can enjoy the peace and charm of this exceptional city without spending a fortune or suffering heat stroke – and introduce it to your children.

We last visited Venice two years ago and stumbled across the Venice Biennale – the grandest art event on earth – by chance. This year the Biennale was part of the plan, the idea being to dedicate a couple of days to the art, and the rest of the week to exploring the city. It helped that our apartment was perfectly located, close to the Piazza San Marco and right by a canal. I loved sipping my morning coffee on the balcony, watching people crossing ‘our’ bridge. Later in the day, the children enjoyed listening to – and occasionally joining in with – the gondoliers singing as they passed below our window.Over the next six days, we walked and water-bussed all over Venice. It’s always fun to see what resonates with children, and ours loved the day we spent at Giardini, one of the main Biennale venues. The Giardini houses 30 permanent national pavilions, each showcasing its nation’s art. Our favourite installation was in the Japanese pavilion: A Key in Hand by Chiharu Shiota, incorporating hundreds of keys hanging from a web of red yarn over two boats with photographs and videos of children. We took two days away from the city, one to visit the famous glass islands of Murano, where I lusted after some ridiculously expensive dining rooms lights (not purchased), and Burano with its colourful houses; and the second to enjoy an afternoon on the beach at Venice Lido. Guess which the children preferred? So no, I can’t think why anyone would advise against taking children to Venice. After all, the city is always a magical mystery tour and therefore just the sort of place they enjoy. We’re already planning a return visit in 2017 for the next Biennale.

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