Venice, which is perhaps one of the foremost romantic destinations in the World, is best known for its canals and its unique geographic situation (the city is an archipelago of small islands in the middle of the Venetian lagoon). Who hasn’t dreamed of exploring the city on a gondola while the stripy shirt-wearing conductor croons sweet melodies? Unless of course, you are the Indiana Jones type who fantasizes about boat chases and mystical underground sewers. But either way, when one thinks of Venice, one word comes to mind: water.
However, when you take a closer look, you realize that Venice has a lot more in store for the cultured, the dreamer and the adventurous.
The Basilica di San Marco is a unique blend of roman, gothic, renaissance and Byzantine architecture. Once inside the cross-shaped edifice, you’ll be astounded by its five domes and astonishing mosaics. In front of the basilica, the world-famous Piazza di San Marco is surrounded by countless little cafes. Caffe Quadri and Caffe Florian in particular are visitors’ favorites, with local musicians providing the entertainment.
Basilica di San Marco: free admission but the line can be incredibly long so it may be wise to reserve your visit in advance. Access to the museum (3 euros) and the high altar (2 euros), on the other hand are not free.
The Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia hosts the primary collection of Venetian art from the XIVth to the 18th Century. You’ll see paintings from Bellini, Cima de Conegliano, Titian and many other Italian masters. A must see for all art lovers.
Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia: admission is 6.50 euros (reservation available for 1 extra euro
Riding a vaporetto on the Grand Canal will provide you with an exceptional view of the many architectural wonders that border it (including the Ducale Palace and the Santa Maria della Salute church). A popular sight along the ride is definitely the winged lion on a column at the foot of the Piazza San Marco, which makes for great photography.
The Grand Canal: take the Vaporetto number one, which will take you all the way across town into the train station. The vaporetto is a great alternative to the more glamorous Gondola, which can be a bit pricy.
Take a walk through the many small streets and canals of the city. Getting lost in this urban maize is a great way to experience the more authentic Venice and its architectural wonders.
For a quick getaway, take the vaporetto number 12 to the Island of Burano (40 mins) and enjoy its peaceful gardens and notice the many colorful fishermen’s houses that make this little island so special.
If you don’t mind the extra commute, the vaporetto number 12 will also take you to the Island of Torcello (1 hour), where the Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta was built. This Venetian-Byzantine architectural jewel is one of the oldest buildings in the city and hosts breathtaking mosaics.
Whether you are looking for romance, culture or simply a great holiday getaway, Venice has so much to offer that you will not want to miss the experience.