You can have your cake and eat it too! Florence to Venice, using the Eurostar train out of Florence is a fast, easy and comfortable way to visit Venice without stressing about driving. As there is a train that leaves the main Florence train station (Santa Maria Novella) at 8,38 in the morning and drops you off directly at Santa Lucia in Venice (the one and only train station IN Venice) at 11,17 in the morning. You can catch another direct Eurostar train home at 6,43 in the evening - knowning that you saw Venice in comfort.
Check the train schedule before coming in, the Italian train system does offer different hours during the course of the year. There are ealier and later trains, but they take longer and are not all direct, the EUROSTAR means NO CHANGING TRAINS - you get on, read the paper, drink a cup of coffee and await the adventure. I forgot to mentioned its airconditioned in first class, and well worth the few extra euros in the months of July and August. Official website: Ferrovie dello Stato
Be careful when making your plans that when you put in Venice (or Venezia ) as the final destination, many times the town of Mestre comes up. This is the closest town to Venice on the main land, and you will either have to take a bus or a train to get to the island of Venice. As soon as you get off the train, you can either catch one of the water buses that are waiting right outside the station, or start your way in by walking. You won't take you long walking to get into the heart of Venice and places like Piazza San Marco and Rialto (the famous bridge) are well marked with yellow and black signs.
The major complaints about Venice are that it is expensive - and yes folks, it is. But what can you expect, everything they have comes in from the mainland (food, water, etc.) so you do pay more. And let's face it, it's Venice, a one of a kind experience!!! - and you pay for it in one way or another. So if you are going to Venice on a budget, pack a lunch and water. If you are going to enjoy the adventure then be prepared to leave a little bit of your wallet in their safe keeping...
The other complaint is that there are sooooo many people - and soooo many of them are tourists. Venice is small, and everyone wants to go there, and unlike places like Rome or Florence, when you are on an island there is no where for the overflow to go...pack your personal belongings carefully so you don't have to worry about stray hands, and don't worry about taking back streets to explore, you really can't get too lost, like we already said, its an island. Besides, there is the local tourist information office where you can get a map.
If you do a one day train trip to Venice you probably won't have time to visit Murano - but you will find lots of shops that sell glass throughout Venice. San Marco is beautiful and defiinitely well worth the visit, and though the prices are truly outrageous there is nothing like sitting in the Piazza with the orchestra playing Venetian waltz and you watch the ever famous pigeons scatter from one part to another.
Everyone wants to do a gondola ride, and you should!! They normally won't take more than 5 persons and then normally ask 80.-Euro for a ride (and that means 4 persons max) and 20.-Euro for the 5th person. The ride is about 30 minutes, and when they aren't yelling back in forth amoung themselves they will even point out important buildings. If you are a couple or less than 4 we strongly suggest that you ask around, lots of people are in the same boat as you are, and want to ride but don't have enough people. Sharing a ride with others is cost effective and fun (there is someone to take photos of you while on the gondola!!) Enjoy Venice, it truly is the treasure that the Italians say it is - and a trip to Italy wouldn't be the same without it.