Established that the gondola ride under the rain is not the best option, what you could do, however, is to visit a shipyard where they build gondolas, or a “squero”; that, to be precise, it does not manufacture only gondolas but any typical Venetian wooden boat, and obviously also maintenance.
- San Trovaso is the one that looks like a mountain hut (not by chance, since in the past the manufacture and repair of boats in Venice was mostly entrusted to wood craftsmen who came from the mountains of Cadore) [San Trovaso (https://goo.gl/maps/2uAqgc63CEP2) is just a few steps from the “Zattere” stop - vaporetto lines 2, 5.1, 5.2 and 6]
- Tramontin (not far from San Trovaso) less scenic but equally interesting [the nearest stop is San Basilio (https://goo.gl/maps/qoLwW7je3g32) - vaporetto lines 2, 5.1, 5.2 and 6]
Alternatively you can visit a shop of the other type of handicraft linked to the traditional boats, which is the “remer” (the “remer” is the one who realizes oars and “forcole” – the “forcola” would be the oarlock of Venetian boats) personally I recommend you to visit the Forcolaio Matto shop [behind Santa Sofia, a stone's throw from the “Ca' d'Oro” stop (https://goo.gl/maps/DJhJt8ccaxy) - vaporetto line 1]
Advice n. 2: super classic, commonplace but always operative: let’s visit churches and museums.
- must to do: Doge’s Palace. An important detail: included in the same ticket, you also have access to the Correr Musuem, the Archeological Museum and the Marciana Library
- if you are looking for something not too crowded: I have two addresses for you: Museo del Settecento Veneziano at Ca’ Rezzonico Palace (the palace itself is already spectacular) [“Ca' Rezzonico” stop (https://goo.gl/maps/P2G3jJ7y2ZK2) - vaporetto line 1] – Palazzo Mocenigo where you can find the Museum of Fabric and Costume with an interesting path on the history of Perfume [“San Stae” stop (https://goo.gl/maps/piUCU8WjkJD2) - vaporetto line 1]
- for modern art lovers the obligatory stop is obviously at the Guggenheim Collection [hosted in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, between Accademia e Salute (https://goo.gl/maps/CjuHZqgfDXw) - “Accademia” stop - vaporetto lines 1 and 2]; for contemporary art: Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana [Palazzo Grassi is in front of the “San Samuele” stop (https://goo.gl/maps/PdE8WJK3xwk) - vaporetto line 2 - for Punta della Dogana the stop is “Salute” (https://goo.gl/maps/jtu3cbjpo9w) - vaporetto line 1]
- if you have children with you, two nice solutions are: Museo di Storia Naturale, at the “Fondaco dei Turchi” (you can even find a dinosaur!) [the nearest stop is “San Stae” (https://goo.gl/maps/32Gq3LmeyNL2) - vaporetto line 1]; and the Naval Museum, with numerous models and real examples of typical Venetian boats [entry from Riva degli Schiavoni - the nearest stop is “Arsenale” (https://goo.gl/maps/gYE4Hj1LAUM2)- vaporetto line 1, 4.1 and 4.2]
As for the churches, two names on all: Frari (treasure chest of breathtaking works of art) [the church of the Frari is located in the heart of the San Polo district (https://goo.gl/maps/2JkQZWMd1ZM2), a stone's throw from San Rocco] and San Giovanni e Paolo (a sort of pantheon of Venetian doges) [next to the Civil Hospital (https://goo.gl/maps/viMzcacJZBn) - the nearest stop is “Fondamente Nove” - vaporetto lines: 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2]
If you are one of those who’s never tired of seeing churches (and in Venice there is reason!) I recommend the Chorus Pass. 18 churches will open up for you.
Advice n. 3: Music. Go see a concert or an Opera at the Fenice Theatre. At the Fenice it is also worth to follow a guided tour organized by the Theatre itself (timetables and reservations on the official website) [The Fenice Theatre is located between Santo Stefano and San Moisè (https://goo.gl/maps/7Ci2ykAhQDH2), in the San Marco district]. Still on the subject of music, you can visit the church of San Maurizio (a stone’s throw from the Fenice), where you will find a beautiful collection of vintage musical instruments on display. [San Maurizio is located near Santo Stefano (https://goo.gl/maps/qygHWdku2UC2) - the nearest stop is “Accademia” - vaporetto lines 1 and 2]
If you are satisfied with classical music, indulge in a variation on the theme and go to the Venice Jazz Club. The quality level is not high, it is very high! Ultra-advised. Book first! [Santa Margherita area, near San Barnaba (https://goo.gl/maps/KYqzNuM2tL72) - “Ca' Rezzonico” stop - vaporetto line 1]
Advice n. 4: Lock yourself in a library. At Querini Stampalia, in addition to the luxury of enjoying a wonderful place, you can further expand your already extensive culture.
But you can also simply distract yourself with magazines and newspapers, comfortably seated, watching the rain outside the windows. [in Campo Santa Maria Formosa (https://goo.gl/maps/tzVDyHKUQG12) a few minutes from Piazza San Marco]
Still on the subject of books, an experience to try absolutely is to visit the Acqua Alta Bookshop. Defined by many the most beautiful bookshop in the world. I do not agree, it is not beautiful, but it is certainly original and extravagant! [in Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa (https://goo.gl/maps/Cz8CJSeHPCm), coming from the square, you find it towards the end, on your left]
Advice n. 5: Learn to do something with your hands: take a lesson in craftsmanship. You can find it for all tastes: from the masks (for example at Ca’ Macana – to be clear they are the ones who provided the masks for the movie Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick) to the glass (for example at Muranero, the first Senegalese in the history of the Venice who works the glass like a true Muranese master). [Ca' Macana is a few meters from San Barnaba (https://goo.gl/maps/tV6k2b5gTT32) - “Ca' Rezzonico” stop - vaporetto line 1 - while you can find Muranero just behind Bragora to go towards Sant'Antonin (https://goo.gl/maps/MJQKzwVNKiJ2)].
If instead you are attracted to the table rather than the artisan, you could do a Venetian cooking class.
Advice n. 6: Well, an always intriguing way to use the time when forced to stay closed by rain is undoubtedly eating and drinking!
The let’s go with a Bacaro Tour! In the Rialto area you will find so many and so close that the routes to be covered in the rain, if necessary, to go from one bacaro (typical venetian bar) to another are really minimal. And in any case, after a couple of spritz and wine glasses, the rain will be the last of your problems
If you do not want to drink at random, you can try a wine tasting tour accompanied by a real expert.
Alternatively, a pleasant refuge from the rain is the tea-room with a Japanese name that I’m not able to pronounce (Fujiyama). A nice hot herbal tea, two biscuits or a slice of homemade cake, while it’s raining outside, it always has its own reason. [You can find it in Calle Lunga San Barnaba, more or less in the middle of the long street (https://goo.gl/maps/huAAoakofhS2)]
Another good way to warm you up is with a coffee or a hot chocolate (or both of course): two interesting addresses: Torrefazione Marchi [in San Leonardo a few steps from the bridge of Guglie (https://goo.gl/maps/gi1tH2YEEVz)] and the Caffè del Doge [in Calle dei Cinque in the Rialto area (https://goo.gl/maps/fdgUTsG5rU22)].
Advice n. 7: If you have money to throw away then go to the Casino, in the wonderful Palazzo Vendramin Calergi (it was also home to an inspired Wagner). Taken from the spiral of the game you will not notice the time that passes while in the meantime it has stopped raining … [the nearest stop is “San Marcuola” (https://goo.gl/maps/WUETUE6nfSJ2) - vaporetto lines 1 and 2]
If you do not have money to throw away, go to visit another one of a kind of entertainment place: Casino Venier. Now home to the Alliance Francaise, it is a true eighteenth-century jewel that has remained almost intact. You will have to pay a small amount but it is really worth it.
[the entrance is in the Sotoportego de le Acque (https://goo.gl/maps/KS341ZE3t8t), two meters from the Ponte dei Bareteri, halfway between Rialto and San Marco]
Advice n. 8: … but maybe this is the advice number 1: stay in the hotel under the covers
PS: here are some useful tips on how to get there and how to get around in Venice: www.tourisminvenice.com/blog/2014/07/13/reaching-and-getting-around-venice/