Number one: you WILL get lost! Hence, the titles of my posts about Venice. I suppose though that I should change that now to "Non ha perso a Venezia!", because we didn't get lost once. As I mentioned earlier, Venice is small, so you really don't go too far. We kept our bearings always knowing where the the lagoon and the basillica were and with our trusty map finding our way through the maze was simple. After our first experience finding our way to La Fenice in a snap on our first night we had no problems finding our restaurants in the Castello district every other night. Every place was practically a 10 minute walk.
We crossed the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro, walked to San Polo, Santa Croce, parts of Cannaregio...always knowing exactly where we were going, even while wandering about, and how to make it back easily. Getting lost was highly exaggerated.
Warning number two (and the one that people seemed to revel in!): "Oh the crowds everywhere, you're going to hate it!" After our initial shock of the wall to wall people in the semi flooded Piazza San Marco, and thinking "Oh boy those well wishers (ahem) were right :(" that warning also went out the window. First I'll explain the flooding because the following morning, even though it had rained that night, it was gone completely. A gondolier explained, it is attributed to high tide, so if the tide is high that day it comes through in certain spots if not then no flooding.
Now on avoiding the crowds. Venice has museums but they're nowhere near as famous as the ones in other parts of Italy. Maybe it's because Venice itself is such a piece of art, I don't know. There are no lines or crowds at the museums (at least not in mid-September) but the Basillica of San Marco, the Doge Palace and the Campanille which are all in the Piazza San Marco seem to be the BIG tourist attraction and the lines are endless therefore wall to wall people covering the square. This is during the day. A lot of the tourists seem to be earlybirds because here it is at night.
Beautifully lit up and practically empty. It is also like this early in the morning.
When we were doing our research on Venice I read an article in Food and Wine which suggested a website called From My Dining Table by a British woman who has lived in Venice all her life. In it she has a section called "Secret Venice". We chose a few places to go from here but what I remember most is that she says once you move in a couple of blocks from the big tourist attractions, i.e. Piazza San Marco, Rialto Bridge (which wasn't bad at all) you could find yourself on empty streets.
It seems the crowds were also highly exaggerated.
Ciao bellissima Venezia. Grazie mille.