Palaces, masks and cicchetti on magical waterways
Are you looking to follow in the footsteps of Vivaldi, Titan, Casanova or Johnny Depp’s ‘Tourist’? Look no further. Wander the romantic labyrinth of alleys, quiet squares, bridges and islets that make up this beautiful city of canals. Soak up the other-worldly atmosphere, age-old traditions, and majestic palaces. Venice might be slowly sinking, but there is time yet to explore this unique and fascinating destination.
There is no denying it’s popular. A staggering 4000 visitors are welcomed annually for each and every Venetian resident. Tourists mostly arrive in the summer from all over the world, with cruise ship day trippers making up a good percentage of the numbers. A very different experience can be enjoyed in the low season November to March however, when crowds are fewer and prices more reasonable. The exception to this would be the Christmas period as well as February’s carnival. These are wonderful times to visit, and although you’ll find crowds and inflated prices, this is mostly due to domestic revellers rather than international arrivals. Otherwise winter offers the opportunity to explore at your own pace, get a table at a favourite eatery and even snag a bargain room with a view on Canal Grande.
The great financial and military power welded by Venice in the Medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance periods left a legacy very much in evidence today. St Mark’s Basilica, standing on the square of the same name, is simply gorgeous. It’s a fine example of Italian Byzantine architecture from the ornate detail of the front facade to the exquisite frescos on the domed interior. Nearby the Doge’s Palace is equally impressive featuring a series of beautiful white stone arches. See the legendary Bridge of Sighs from where criminals would catch a last glimpse of Venice. Take an elevator to the top of the red-brick Campanile for a brilliant bird’s eye view. At a towering 98.6 metres high, it’s the city’s tallest building. Or simply explore and enjoy the beautiful shops which line the streets and canalsides.
Find your Favourite Sestiere
Discover the six sestieri, the distinct districts which have existed since the very foundation of Venice. From the major landmarks of San Marco, venture to San Palo and explore Rialto, the old trade centre and antique Wall Street. It’s also home to the oldest church of the city and a maze of tiny calli streets, rich in love stories. The sestiere of Santa Croce will surprise you with its mascareri artistry, or head to Cannaregio, the most populated area, which includes the famous Jewish Ghetto. In Dorsoduro you’ll find lots of museums including the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, while Castello is home to the Arsenale, the large shipyard where the Biennale takes place.
Forget road transport, experience Venice from the lagoon itself, darting along the Grand Canal, navigating the small channels and exploring the many islands that make up this cinematic city. Take a seat in a classic black gondola. It might be pricey, but it’s the iconic way to travel. Private water taxis can be great fun, flexible, and work out more cost effective if you are travelling with a family or small group. Vaporettos are probably the most ubiquitous form of transport. Rather like a water bus service, it’s an efficient and quick way to get about especially if you buy a pass for multiple trips.