Attending the most prestigious art fair in the world doesn’t have to break the bank. Stay in an apartment or small hotel, eat at family-run restaurants and cafes and explore the beautiful streets on foot or by vaporetto (the public waterbus). 

THE VENICE BIENNALE

CULTURE
The 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia which runs until 22 November 2009 – features the work of hundreds of international artists (including the Canadian filmmaker Mark Lewis) showing their work in the country pavilions of the Giardini, in a former naval shipyard called the Arsenale and in numerous historic palazzos, churches and museums scattered about the city and on the surrounding islands.  A pass to everything the biennale has to offer is 18 Euros but many of the offsite exhibitions are free.  Check out the massive canvases at the Danger Museum and prepare yourself for a surprise at the end of your visit, experience the fabulous gothic glory of the Ukrainian pavilion or the fading grandeur of the 15th century palazzo housing Scottish artist Martin Boyce’s sculptural works.

EAT & DRINK

A stone’s throw from the beautiful but tourist-crammed Piazza San Marco is Via Garibaldi, a wide street filled with reasonably priced restaurants, cafes and bars.  Try the delicious Spaghetti vongole at Osteria al Garanghelo or Spaghetti alla busera con scampi at Ristorante Giorgione.  Finish or begin your evening at the lively bar, El Refolo that also happens to have an outstanding and reasonably priced wine list.  Don’t miss the floating market near the bridge on Via Garibaldi -a fun place to stock up on fruit, veg and fish – if you’re staying in an apartment.

PLAY
Take a break from the inevitable crowds and jump on the Number 1 Vaporetto for a short ride to the Lido, an old-fashioned beach resort featuring a wide sandy beach, ice cream parlours and seaside shops.

If you feel the urge for a gondola ride but don’t want to pay in the region of 100 Euros, look for the yellow “Traghetto” signs along the Grand Canal. For 50 cents you’ll be taken in a gondola across the canal.

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