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Where to start? All of Venice is to be seen! It is a unique city built on water which offers many different things to be admired and visited. But let’s start with the classical must do things. First of all a walk to Saint Mark’s Square with its stunning Basilica and a walk up the Campanile, Venice’s most famous church tower which offers amazing panoramic views of the city. Follow this with a walk over Rialto Bridge, with its jewelery and souvenir shop situated along its steps. Let’s carry on walking over the Accademia bridge and let’s take a tour of the Gallerie Dell’Accademia, site of the most beautiful works of art by some of Venice’s most famous artists like Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto and Tiepolo.
A visit to Venice cannot be complete without a gondola ride along the Gran Canal, a tour which will give you a unique insight on the beautiful palazzi which line the riverbanks of the most famous canal in the world. End your visit with an opera concert at the Fenice theatre or an Italian play at the Goldoni theatre.
But Venice offers so many other attractions that you cannot miss – Ca’ Rezzonico, the museum of the Venetian Renaissance; Palazzo Ducale, home of the Venetian Republic parliament and the Doge’s home; Ca’ Pesaro, the Modern Art and the Oriental art museum; and last but not least a visit to the islands of Murano with its glass factories and Burano, with its lace making shops.
A trip to Venice cannot end without purchasing a traditional souvenir like a Carnival artisan mask or some Murano glass. The best place to purchase a beautiful hand-made paper machè mask is Ca’ del Sol ,located at the back of Saint Mark’s, where you can actually see the artisans making the masks in front of you. If you want to purchase real Murano glass I would like to suggest Seguso on the island itself. Beware of fake products, always check for the trade mark Handmade in Italy!
The most famous area in Venice for high fashion boutiques is that of Le Mercerie, the main shopping street of the city, which connects Piazza San Marco and the Rialto and it is the home of some of the biggest Italian and international brands such as Cartier,Gucci,Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Krizia and many others. Another famous street for luxury shopping in Venice is undoubtedly Calle Larga XXII Marzo, a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco: here you’ll find some of the most prestigious “brands” of Italian fashion and designer accessories such as Prada, Bulgari, Bruno Magli, Versace, Damian Ferragamo.
For a souvenir with a twist why not go to Casa del Parmigiano just by Rialto Bridge and get some italian cheese and olive oil to take back home and remind you of the city?
Venice offers a wide variety of eateries, from the cheapest pizza and kebab take away shop to the 5 star sophisticated à la carte restaurant. Why not try a Spritz, (the typical Venetian drink of prosecco wine and Aperol) in one of the many Venetian Osterie. Combine it with some cicchetti, the local version of Spanish Tapas. Some of the best Osterie I can recommend are Vecia Carbonera in Strada Nova, by Santa Maddalena Church or Al Timon in Fondamenta Ormesini, at the back of the Jewish Ghetto. Try the baccalà mantecato or the little panini with salame. If you are looking for a great take-away pizza or amazing gelato then pop in Quanto Basta in Lista di spagna, just few metres from Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station. If you want to try real Venetian dishes at an affordable price then make your way to Trattoria Rosa Dei Venti, Fondamenta Minotto by Piazzale Roma bus Terminal.
Prices are reasonable for Venice and the food will not disappoint you. If you are vegetarian you can also try La Zucca in Santa Croce, they are not strictly vegetarian but they offer an amazing selection of Venetian vegetable dishes. For a real authentic Venetian food experience with no budget limits then try Antiche Carampane or for a luxury meal then you must book a table at Met. The name speaks for itself. The Met is the only Venetian restaurant awarded two Michelin stars – not to be missed. Or you could try Osteria da Fiore, a classic restaurant in Venice or Hotel Cipriani, one of the most luxurious hotels in Venice, with spectacular views over the lagoon.
The best places to have an informal drink in Venice are in Campo Santa Margherita area. Here you can have a glass of prosecco wine, a spritz or a beer while relaxing and admiring the crowds of youth and tourists passing by. I often have a drink at Orange Bar or at Margaret DuChamp. If instead you want to try the Casanova experience, then walk over to Saint Mark’s square and have a cocktail at Caffè Florian or Caffè Quadri, two of the oldest cafes in Venice. You can sit there, looking at the crowds and listening to the live musicians playing Italian or classical music for the delight of their customers.
Venice is famous for having a wide range of hotels. You can find accommodation in very basic hostels or very luxurious 5 star hotels. If you are on a budget you can find cheap accommodation in a A Venice Fish Hostel, if you can afford to pay a little more than you can find accommodation in the many B&Bs, Locandas and Guest Houses of the city, amongst which Artblu B&B , Ca Della Corte and B&B Zaguri. If you want to splash out in one the many luxurious hotels of Venice, why not try the historical Hotel Danieli or the Luna Baglioni or the Hilton Mulino Stucky. Or to avoid the city tax you could book your stay on dry land on the Riviera del Brenta, try B&B Faronhof or Alcova del Doge
Venice is all about walking, with more than 400 bridges and canals. The best walks are along the Zattere going up right to Punta della dogana or alongside Riva Degli Schiavoni, starting from Palazzo Ducale. Or you can take a walk on the island of Giardini e visit the Biennale or in the Jewish Ghetto near Cannaregio. What about taking a Food and Ghost tour of the city or an alternative guided tour with L’Altra Venezia.
if you are spending more than 3 days in Venice, then you must go and visit the Riviera del Brenta, with its amazing Palladian villas all the way to Padova city. Or take a train ride to Treviso, the medieval walled city with its medieval streets and parks.
Venice is the birthplace of Vivaldi and many churches and halls offer his music in concert, starting from Interpreti Veneziani , Ensemble Antonio Vivaldi and I Musici Veneziani.
The crowds: you will get hot, bothered and you will not enjoy the city to its best! Just take a side street, throw away your map and just get lost, finding all those hidden little treasure places which this amazing city keeps well secret!