Venice is often crowded and expensive but well worth visiting to see its magnificent landmarks like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. One of the most popular things to do is to take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal. However, it is just as equally enjoyable to ride a vaporetti along the quiet back canals.
Every year, Venice hosts one of Italy’s liveliest Carnival festivals where the streets are filled with people dressed in colorful costumes and masks, and the Grand Canal is packed with fleets of decorated boats and gondolas. A popular souvenir to purchase in Venice is one of the beautifully crafted carnival masks.
Venice can be reached by plane, bus and train. There are no cars in Venice, so people either walk or ride the water taxis along the canal system. Travelers should note that Venice frequently experiences high water in the spring and fall.
1-Canals of Venice
2-St Mark’s SquarePiazza San Marco – the “drawing room of Europe”, as Napoleon is said to have described it – is an elegant colonnaded square dominated at one end by the dreamy domes, arches and glittering gold mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica. The Campanile (belltower) and the Doge’s Palace, on the lagoonside extension of the Piazzetta, are the tourist magnets.
Another essential stop-off is the Torre dell’Orologio , where you can observe the workings of the elaborate clock that still marks the hours in the piazza.
3-St Mark’s Basilica
Resplendent at the eastern end of the piazza, St Mark’s basilica resembles nothing else in Christendom - from its four great bulbous domes outside to its one-and-a-half square miles of glimmering golden mosaics covering the splendid interior.
Go for 6.45am mass if you want to see it without the crowds and don’t forget the upstairs loggia where the originals of the four Graeco-Roman bronze horses that face the square prance elegantly in a museum
Venice’s doges (dukes) were elected from among their aristocratic peers, after which their whole lives were subsumed by the state. Venice was all about shimmering exteriors concealing hard-nosed commercial or administrative activity, and the mainly 15th-century Doge’s palace mirrors this perfectly: beyond immense meeting halls and formal reception rooms with acres of canvases by Tintoretto and Veronese lie narrow chambers in which city scribes and bureaucrats beavered away in cramped darkness.
A slow-moving refurbishment means that scaffolding and room closures can hamper visitors’ progress. But don’t be deterred: even a tiny fraction of what the Accademia contains is enough to satisfy the most demanding art lover: Titian’s last painting, La Pietà, and his Presentation of the Virgin; Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi; Giorgione’s mysterious The Tempest; numerous works by Giovanni Bellini. Dorsoduro 1050, Campo della Carità
The flamboyant Gothic flourishes and trills of this 15th-century Grand Canal palazzosomehow distill the essence of Venice. The interior, where the art collection assembled by a former owner, Baron Franchetti, is displayed, has two highlights: Mantegna’s visionary St Sebastian, and the view of the Grand Canal from the first-floor balcony.
It is fascinating to see glass being blown and fashioned into vases, glasses and baubles in the various workshops on Venice’s historic glass island, but be aware that any Murano excursion offered “free” by your hotel concierege comes with serious pressure to buy at inflated prices. Make your own way there (it’s 10 minutes from Fondamente Nove by waterbus) and shop around.
8-Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Everyone’s favourite eccentric art collector, the redoubtable Peggy assembled a remarkable yet still intensely personal portofolio of modernist and surrealist art, including major works by Picasso, Magritte, Max Ernst (her husband for a while), Giacometti and Jackson Pollock. Peggy’s 18th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal was never finished by the Venetian family that commissioned it. The gardens are lovely, the museum shop is the best in Venice, and the bar/cafè makes a good lunch or tea stop.
If you visit only one Venetian church aside from St Mark’s, make it this penumbral, echoing Gothic edifice , a 15-minute walk west of the Rialto. Its artistic treasures include two magnificent early Titians: The Assumption of the Virgin over the high altar, and the Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro in the left aisle.
10-Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana
These two historic containers the first an 18th-century Grand Canal palazzo that once belonged to Fiat, the second Venice’s old customs house – together contain the contemporary art collection of a French billionaire, François Pinault, head of the lifestyle corporation LVMH. In Palazzo Grassi, selected works are displayed in a series of long-running themed exhibitions, while Punta della Dogana – whose radical interior was entirely refitted by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando – houses the works of a roster of contemporary heavyweights, from Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst.
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