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February 2013

January 2013

'How many bridges to cross?' hotel listings

 Calatrava Bridge in Venice

ABOVE: The Ponte di Calatrava is higher than most of Venice's bridges, but it has shallow steps and a gentle incline, so it's more manageable with luggage than you might guess.

We often get e-mails from readers who are worried about struggling over Venice's footbridges with luggage and other gear. Their concern isn't unwarranted: Venice is a city with more than 400 bridges--nearly all with steps--and few of those bridges are equipped with ramps for wheeled suitcases, strollers, or wheelchairs.

To make life easier for readers who'd like to minimize the up-and-down aspect of reaching their hotels, we've added a new feature to our main Venice for Visitors travel-planning site: "How Many Bridges to Cross?" hotel listings.

The listings consist of more than 20 pages, organized into three categories:

Popular areas (Piazza San Marco, St. Mark's Basin Waterfront, Rialto Bridge).

Transportation hubs (Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia Railroad Station).

Cruise terminals (Marittima, San Basilio).

Alilaguna airport boat (individual stops on the Blue and Orange Lines).

On each page, you'll find hotels grouped by how many bridges you'll need to cross to reach them from the nearest transportation point: e.g., "0 bridges to cross," "1 bridge to cross," or "2 bridges to cross." (In most cases, we stop at two bridges, because the point of the "How Many Bridges?" guide is to help our readers limit their step-climbing.)

Click on a listing, and you'll be taken to a page at Venere or Booking.com where you can see photos of the hotel, read reviews by paying guests, and check availability and prices for the dates of your visit.

Note: There are many fine hotels in Venice that aren't within a bridge or two of public transportation. If you're traveling light, you may not mind a long walk over multiple bridges. But if you're wrestling with heavy bags, a perambulator, or a wheelchair, check our "How Many Bridges to Cross?" hotel listings before booking a room in Venice.


200+ mobile pages at m.veniceforvisitors.com

Mobile smartphone user in Venice, Italy

Do you plan trips on your smartphone, or do you plan to bring your iPhone, Android phone, or Windows phone with you to Venice? If so, take a look at our new Venice for Visitors mobile section at m.veniceforvisitors.com.

m.veniceforvisitors.com bannerWe've edited, reformatted, and (in some cases) rewritten more than 200 of our most popular and informative pages for display on smartphones.

The pages are designed for easy reading when you're holding your phone vertically. We've even made the menu text larger, with more vertical space between menu items, to make site navigation easier.

In addition, we've made our main site at veniceforvisitors.com easier to read if you're using a full-size or mini-tablet such as the iPad, iPad Mini, or Nexus 7. Our goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive Venice travel information on the Web, whether you're using a desktop computer, a laptop or netbook, a tablet, or a smartphone.

Travel tip: When you're in Venice, you can save money by disabling cellular roaming and using Wi-Fi whenever possible. Venice's municipal Wi-Fi network is affordable and offers decent, if limited, coverage. For more information, see:

Venice Wi-Fi network (PC and tablet-friendly page)

Venice Wi-Fi network (smartphone-friendly page)


A new year and a new look at Veniceforvisitors.com

Venice for Visitors logo

As we've reported in a post on our Europe for Visitors Blog, all of our travel-planning sites under the Europeforvisitors.com umbrella--including Venice for Visitors--have a new look for 2013. We've also made some changes under the hood to make the site faster and more useful to readers on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

First: We've switched from a three-column layout to a two-column design, with the editorial content on the left side of the page. Most navigation links are now in menus that you can reach via top links with headings such as "Transportation," "Planning," and "Hotels." You'll find this design especially convenient if you're using a smartphone or a small tablet, because you'll be able to read articles with a minimum of zooming and (on most devices) without horizontal scrolling.

Second: We've ditched our personal photo at the top of each page, replacing the page heading with a streamlined logo. (See enlarged sample above.) This change isn't likely to inspire headlines in The New York Times or The Guardian, but we mention it because it will put more visual emphasis on our editorial content while reducing the number of objects that your Web browser needs to download from our server.

Third: We're now serving all of our pages at Venice for Visitors, Europe for Visitors, and our related sites from a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with 23 data centers around the world. This already has reduced our average page-loading time by 60 per cent, according to Google Analytics, and other tests are showing that we're now among the fastest 10 percent of all Web sites.

But wait, there's more! In the next few weeks, we'll be launching a new mobile version of Venice for Visitors. It will contain our most popular and useful travel-planning articles (150 to 200 pages at launch), in a format that's designed for optimum viewing and navigation on iPhones, Android phones, and other smartphones. You can see an unofficial preview at m.veniceforvisitors.com, but be warned: The mobile site is still  under construction, so don't be surpirised if many of the internal links don't work.