CNN Travel has just listed Venice as one of the places to avoid in 2018 for many good reasons. The city is currently crumbling under the weight of 30 million tourists every year. That is 60,000 visitors a day competing for resources with its 55,000 residents. Its centuries’ old architecture is wasting away. By 2017, UNESCO was already planning to move the city to its “In Danger” list which includes historical relics on the verge of demise from tourism.

According to CNN Travel, “sick of selfie stick-wielding tourists on the Rialto Bridge and cruise ships plying the Giudecca canal and back, Venetians took to the streets in 2017 to vent their frustration.”

Travelers flock to Venice to continue this unfortunate vicious circle because the city is absolutely mesmerizing. Especially during the serious off-season – not shoulder seasons because it’s still crowded then – when its canals are quiet, a few couples walk hand-in-hand through virtually empty alleys, and the city truly evokes the romance it is so frequently associated with.

Even arriving into Venice via boat or ferry already lends that air of drama to an already dramatic-looking landscape.

The city spreads across 100+ islands all linked by roughly 400 bridges. Its romantic waterways have inspired artists across various art movements – from the Middle Ages to Renaissance era. Plus, Carnevale di Venezia – the carnival of masks and masquerades – is held here every February and it pulls tourists and professional photographers alike from all over the world; each trying to create their own unique photos from an overphotographed event bordering on cliche.

And with Venice, you either hate it or you love it. There are no gray zones.

Those who despise the city do so because of its façade which caters to tourists who don’t want to do the extra work of digging deeper culturally. Like a classic beauty who buries herself under layers of unnecessary makeup because the world has told her that is what it finds attractive.

Those of us who love Venice have seen her in the early morning, makeup free. During those quiet moments when tourists are done and moving on with the warmth of the sun. When you can actually hear the waters of the canals lapping up against the side of those rustic crumbling walls with so many stories to tell you.

Venice is truly beautiful and is physically not overrated, but it is being drowned out and pushed further down beneath the destructive relationship that is so drawn to her beauty yet ends up destroying her in the process.

For those who haven’t been to Venice, it’s definitely a place you should visit once in your lifetime. Maybe not right now to give her some room to breathe. But soon enough, once she’s emotionally ready and waiting for you with open arms, not just going through the motions of tourism.

When I visited Venice, it was an early-to-mid December when the crowds had significantly thinned away and residents were able to take their city back in a way that felt more natural and organic to explore it.

Here are some photos from Venice. You can view more photos in my image bank.

Have you been to Venice? Did you love it or hate it?