Between November and February’s Carvivale, Venice’s population is less than half what it is in August. It’s the perfect time to stroll around the Complesso Cosma e Damiano (Calle D. Pistor), a Giudecca convent turned artist commune, a five-minute walk from the Hilton. The cloistered studios are a hub for young, surfacing artists and the headquarters for the ongoing 8x12 Project, a lively mix of reality-TV theatrics and art.
There are many tried-and-true walks around Venice, but none are as melancholy, romantic, or far from the tourist din as the Fondamente Nuove, a 60-minute trek that traverses the northeastern flank of Cannaregio. Built in the sixteenth century as part of the city’s first reclamation effort, the embankment offers splendid views of San Michele (Venice’s cemetery), Murano and Torcello islands, and the crooked bell tower of Burano. On clear days, you can see the snow-capped Dolomites; at other times, just watch the flat-bottom sailboats creaking through the lagoon.