Visit Venice, without leaving your home

Luca Fornasier has been giving tours since he was a teenager, but now offers them (with stops in “secret places”) almost exclusively via Airbnb experiences because of COVID-19.

“I started welcoming clients to my city when I was only 16,” Fornasier said in an email. “During the trip, even though I was very young, I always prepared a map for my clients with all the best local suggestions and secret places to visit to avoid tourist traps and crowds!”

This attention to detail was not lost on the Zoom virtual tour.

He quizzed us (we guessed using the chat feature), promised prizes to create a competitive atmosphere, answered questions, and managed to keep the names of all tour participants (there were around 20 of us ) as he walked along the canals of Venice and through the alleys.

Fornasier uses a smartphone, a stabilizing gimbal, and a pair of headphones to create the best possible virtual connection with his guests. But it’s not always easy and limits its tour stops.

“The biggest challenge is the mobile data connection,” Fornasier said. “Unfortunately, there are parts of Venice with very narrow streets that I can’t go to because the connection doesn’t work there.”

“Another challenge is that if you have a group with different clients and different ages, you have to be able to entertain them all! “

Our tour included grandparents, families with young children, single adults, and middle-aged couples, with geographic locations spanning the United States and Asia.

In a year without a pandemic, Fornasier’s company, Shome Venice, offers more than 30 types of tours, provided by a team of native Venetian guides. Of the society TripAdvisor page claims 5 stars from over 300 reviews, where tourists can book in-person food tours, walking tours, boat tours, and art tours once travel returns to normal.

Interesting nugget: Shome Venice (shomevenice.com) is pronounced “show me”, but Fornasier uses the word “home” because it aims to make visitors feel like locals during their stay.

Our virtual tour, “Secrets of Venice with a born Venetian”, Lasted just over an hour, and with a ticket price of $ 16 back then (they’re now $ 20), and it was a steal when I think back to how good I felt. happy and fulfilled after the experience.

I’m not going to spoil the fun facts I learned along the way, but spending a morning on the streets of Venice with Luca gave me hope for a potential trip to come in 2021.

Other ways to escape (virtually) from the house

Airbnb experiences are just one way to see the world from the comfort of your home.

By using platforms like Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Zoom, businesses and nonprofits are getting smart at delivering experiences remotely.

A quick search for events on Facebook found that a Delta College Planetarium Facebook Live The January 21 event allowed viewers around the world to “See the Northern Lights” and drew 176,000 attendees.

According to Facebook, the event, organized by the director and astronomer of the planetarium, reached more than 1.7 million interested people.

Similar to Airbnb experiences, Expedia offers Virtual tours and activities, ranging from live online cooking classes to historical and cultural exploration, and even tours of aerial and space wonders.

If you want to explore sites closer to you, the Museum of Fine Arts offers a catalog of videos and virtual tours available on its website.

Emily Wright can be reached at [email protected].

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