Rising from the waters of Venice Lagoon is a place like no other. The Italian city of Venice. Once the world’s greatest port. Here, protected from the swells of the Adriatic, Venetian merchants created an impossible city of incredible wealth. Long hailed as the most breathtaking city on earth, there is no denying that sometimes, Venice can be overwhelmed with admirers. But if you take your time, and treat her gently, she will reward you with moments of profound beauty and bliss.
Most visits begin in the central district of San Marco, where you’ll find one of the world’s great squares, St Marks.
Arrive with the dawn, and the piazza will be yours to enjoy, without the crowds.
St Mark’s Square is surrounded by some of the city’s finest architectural jewels. But there are none greater than St Mark’s Basilica, a treasure house of holy relics, from the body of St Mark, to a lock of The Virgin Mary’s hair. St Mark was known as Mark the Lionhearted, and everywhere you turn in Venice you’ll see this proud symbol.
Below the tower, is one of the city’s great landmarks, Doge’s Palace. For centuries this Venetian Gothic masterpiece was the seat of the republic’s power and prestige.
Today, its courtyards, apartments and chambers are a museum, which celebrates centuries of Venetian achievement and glory.
Here, under the Winged of Lion of Venice, begin your journey along one of the world’s great aquatic thoroughfares, The Grand Canal. For almost two and a half miles, the canal winds through Venice,…it is her main artery, her lifeblood. Ride the Vaporetto dell’ Arte and explore the canal’s treasures at your leisure. Or ride in true Venetian style, by gondola, which Mark Twain once calledthe gentlest form of locomotion ever devised.
All along the canal, elegant palazzos, once the homes of wealthy merchants, slip by as if in a dream.
The timeless wake of river traffic laps at their doorsteps, just as it has for centuries.
Today, many of the Palazzos, are home to museums and galleries. Ca Rezzonico allows visitors to experience the opulence of 18th century Venice.
While Palazzo Grassi’s bold restoration and artworks are the perfect reflection of a city that cherishes its past, and embraces the new.
The Accademia Bridge links the San Marco district to the Accademia Gallery, and offers some of the Grand Canal’s finest views.
The oldest of the Grand Canal’s four crossings, is The Rialto Bridge. For over three hundred years this was the only way to cross the canal on foot, and today still stands as the grand gateway to the Rialto Markets. Away from the Grand Canal there are hundreds more bridges to explore, from the purely functional, to the breathtaking.
The most famous of all, connects Doge’s Palace to the historic prison. From the enclosed walkway, the condemned would capture one last look at their beloved city,and sigh,…hence the name, the Bridge of Sighs.
Venice is a city to get lost in, so put away your map and let her surprise you.
Follow winding alleyways that suddenly emerge into quiet piazzas and onto the steps of ancient churches.
In the central area of San Marco, discover cultural treasures like the Teatro La Fenice, which despite being destroyed three times by fire, arose from the ashes each time, just like its namesake. The further you roam, the fewer travellers you’ll see and the more locals you’ll meet. These are the places, where the city surrenders its most intimate pleasures…
When the city’s embrace becomes too tight, there are places to catch your breath, …like the waterfront promenades …or the sleepy canals and spacious piazzas of Castello.
Venice was long the epicenter of European glassmaking. Fearing an inferno, in the 13th century Venice relocated all her glassmakers to the island of Murano. 700 years later, the decedents of these artisans still create works of incredible delicacy and color.
Further across the lagoon, is another island famed for its color, the tiny island of Burano. Legend has it, that fishermen painted their houses in distinctive colors so they could find their way home through the lagoon’s fogs. While here, shop for some of the island’s exquisite lace, just as Leonardo da Vinci did when he visited in 1481.
From the adventures of Marco Polo and Casanova, to the artistry of Vivaldi and Bellini, Venice has shone her light into the far corners of the world for over one and a half thousand years. And now, the world comes to her.
Just remember, Venice smiles upon those who linger. So stay for a few nights, or stay for a month, and savor every sweet moment she has to offer.