Postcard perfect Venice is perhaps one of the prettiest and most iconic travel destinations on earth. Being the world’s only pedestrian city, the absence of cars and architectural development has allowed Venice to remain virtually the same today as it was some six hundred years ago. Made up of many different boroughs, a trip on a gondola between one of the city’s 118 islands won’t be an easy one to forget, while those lucky enough to visit during Carnevale, the world’s most famous masked ball, or the Venice Bienalle, will find a city as culturally rich today as it was hundreds of years ago in the Renaissance.
You can’t walk for more than a metre in Venice without seeing something worthy of your attention. Doge’s Palace, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the palaces along the Canal Grande may be the city’s postcard attractions but Torre dell’Orologio clock tower, Scuola grande di San Rocco building, Accademia Gallery and the Civic Museum of Venice are all just as worth a visit. While Venice has many attractions, it is also a city you need to feel just as much as you need to see and a ride on a gondola or a drink by the canal are perfect ways to soak up the unique atmosphere. If you have more time on your itinerary you should also check out the Jewish Ghetto of Venice or make a trip to one of the islands, Murano, Burano and Torcello being the most popular.
Venice is home to many wonderful restaurants however due to the sheer tourist volume average food standards aren’t as high as in other places in Italy. Your best bet to find a great meal is to avoid the tourist frequented streets around San Marco and restaurants with bilingual menus and track down one of the no-fuss restaurants and trattorias where you are more likely to find Italians rather than a tourist dining. Alfredo’s is one such place and has pasta as tasty as it is cheap. Torrefazione Marchi is another popular Venetian hangout and is where you’ll find the best coffee in town, while hole in the wall Bacareto Da Lele has no seats but does have mouthwatering local food at local prices.
Where to Stay
Venice has a smorgasboard of hotels to choose from and the only issue you’ll encounter when deciding where to stay is finding somewhere with vacancy. In fact almost the entire year is classed as high season in Venice so you’ll need to be savvy and book well in advance if you want to grab the best deal. On the higher end of the market, Gritti Palace Hotel, Aman Canal Grande Hotel and Centurion Palace Hotel all offer the kinds of no-holds-barred luxury you’d expect for their price tags, while Hotel Moresco, Corte Di Gabriela and Hotel Ai Reali all offer an excellent balance of value and lavishness. If you’re saving your euros for the gondola fare, check out Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, Hotel Antiche Figure and Arcadia Boutique Hotel, all of which have affordable and comfortable rooms.
Just like every other major Italian city, Venice is home to big name fashion brands including Versace, Gucci, Armani and Prada. The best place to shop for labels is around the Piazza San Marca while the Campo Santo Stefano and Calle della Mandola is where you’ll find more local boutiques offering excellent items without the big name price tags. Available at stores all around town, carnival masks, Murano glass and marbled paper are all popular souvenier purchases but shop around as prices and quality does vary. If your eye is on quality rather than price, seek out Vecchia Murano, one of the best retailers of original Veneto glassware in the city.
Like a Local
If you want to save some money at lunch, do as the locals do and eat standing up. Most eateries are at lunchtime stocked with cicchetti, which is the Venetian form of tapas. Popular dishes include tramezzini (triangular sandwiches), polpette (minced fish or meat balls) and a whole range of antipasto. Simply select a few items by pointing at what you want and you’ve got yourself a meal. Just remember though that if you decide to sit at a table and be waited on the price will be more expensive than if you order and consume your food at the bar.