You can see the real Venetians very early in the morning, explains Ransom Riggs at Mental Floss. That’s when you can discover the city “in its native state,” before most tourists arrive or emerge “yawning from their hotels.” Walking around the tourist hotspots as the sun rises is “almost like going backstage at the opera before a performance and watching the actors warm up -- Venice puts on a mask for its visitors, with singing gondoliers and dueling orchestras playing across piazzas from one another -- and I saw vendors pushing souvenir-laden carts down narrow alleys, waiters walking with starched white jackets slung over their shoulders, and gondoliers who hadn't yet donned their signature stripey shirts, reading the paper in their boats while waiting for just-bolted espressos to kick in.”
“Many Venetians have lived among these lanes and canals for their whole lives, and their ancestors for centuries before that. They shopped at these local shops, possibly from the same family of shopkeepers, they may drink at the same cafe their grandfather did. Their families have worshipped at the local church, celebrated weddings and funerals, and joined in the religious feasts to honour historic events like the city's liberation from plague. Venetians live in apartments and the city's network of lanes, canals and campi, grouped into parishes, are like a shared living space for its people: this is where they meet, pass each other daily, hang out, interact and work. When you see the streets in that light, it becomes clearer how irritated and disrespected residents feel when tourists treat Venice as though it is a theme park to amble through. The key to a 'respected' Venice is for all visitors, even day-trippers, to be aware it is a living, historic, proud city, and not to treat it like as though it exists for their entertainment or convenience.” - Italy Heaven
“It was when I stopped seeing signs for San Marco -- or any signs in English -- that I found some of the regular, ‘working class’ neighborhoods, if you can call them that. The eastern parts of Castello and northern parts of Canareggio are where ostentatious palaces are replaced by modest blocks of houses, leaning toward one another over narrow courtyards, and where you only hear Italian being spoken (or, if you can recognize it, the Venetian dialect), and where no one seems to be in a hurry. I spent a lot of time wandering these streets, trying to get a sense of how people lived.”- Ransom Riggs in Mental Floss
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