Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

Venice may be feeling the effects of overtourism, but there’s still peace and quiet to be found. Mary Novakovich discovers how to slow down and see Venice in a whole new light.

Venice is heaving. It’s a victim of its own popularity—on any given day, tourists outnumber the shrinking resident population of 55,000. Everyone wants to come here, and we continue to go, helplessly drawn to the city’s incomparable beauty.

Some visitors are less welcome than others. Although cruise ships were banned from the Grand Canal, you can still see the monsters rolling through the Giudecca Canal. Thousands of ship passengers swarm through the narrow streets of San Marco, and even an attempt at installing turnstiles during major holidays to allow locals to move about more easily did little to stem the flow. Those Venetians who haven’t yet been priced out of their city feel under siege for most of the year.

Despite all of this, I can’t keep away myself. But I do know that if I want to stay sane, I have to get away from the crowds and perhaps do things differently. And luckily, that’s easily done.