Venice Travel Guide
The small but renowned city of Venice is known by many names. Once upon a time, it was known as La Serenissima, “The Most Serene,” as homage to the fact that stone palaces seemed to be floating on water, almost like in a dream. To locals, it is Venezia. Others in more recent times refer to it as the City of Water, the City of Bridges, or the City of Gondole because of its numerous canals, the bridges that span them, and the world-famous gondolas that ferry people over the city’s waters. Others still, call it the City of Lights as the streets and buildings light up after sunset. As if it doesn’t already have enough names, it is also vying for the title of The World’s Most Romantic City.
As one can imagine from these titles alone, Venice has a lot to offer to any visitor who is willing to explore, and there is so much to discover that can’t be achieved by a single, short day trip. The capital of the Veneto region, Venice is its own little world that is full of charm and it has many stories to tell, thanks to its long history which goes as far back as 400AD. It is a city built upon 118 islands in the Venetian Lagoon, crisscrossed by 400 bridges and 150 canals, with the Grand Canal running right down the middle of this floating city. Once a formidable maritime power that led the fourth Crusade and captured Constantinople, it also went on to conquer other territories across what are now modern day Turkey, the Greek Isles, as well as Crete. By the 1300s, it was one of the largest cities in Europe and it remained a major player in the region until the 18th century.
Nowadays, though no longer out to conquer other countries, Venice remains a main attraction for tourists who travel from all over the globe to admire its art and architecture, a few of which were produced or designed by some of Italy’s most important artists such as Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, Bellini, Carpaccio, Canova, and Tiepolo. It also maintains its own ensemble of historic buildings, piazzas, churches, and palazzos.
The notable points to visit would be the famed and beautiful Piazza San Marco where a winged lion statue representing the city’s patron saint, Saint Mark, stands surveying the crowd below from high up on its column. The Piazza is also a popular spot among tourists thanks to the many al fresco cafes that line it where one can just sit down, relax, feed the local pigeons, and bask in the enchanting atmosphere. Right next to the Piazza is St. Mark’s Basilica with its domes and lavish interiors, as well as the Bell Tower. There is also the Doge’s Palace that the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice once used as a residence, but has since been converted into a museum.
Other than palaces and churches, though, Venice also has a famous bridge, the Ponte di Rialto, also known as the main bridge crossing the Grand Canal. It is over 400 years old, and from there, once can easily go to the Rialto Market. There is also the Galleria del’Accademia which is considered as one of Italy’s best art museums. It is comprised of 3 historic buildings and 24 rooms, so be ready to do a lot of walking. One can also make a stop at some of Venice’s famous islands such as Murano that is renowned all over the world for its glass making traditions and glass products, and Burano which is a small district that is full of colorful houses and is famous for its handmade lace.
Before you do your sightseeing, however, it is important to note that Venice is a city where cars and buses are banned. The main mode of transportation would be the water taxis and vaporetti ferries that ply the Grand Canal, and of course, the lovely, romantic gondolas for hire. Be prepared to either get on a boat, or take long walks along its side streets and bridges.
Last but not least, can we really talk about Venice without mentioning masks and masquerade balls? If you really want to party the Venetian way, head over to the city exactly 40 days before Easter, and get ready for a full ten days of partying on the streets as the annual Carnevale goes into full swing. People will be wearing festive masks and costumes for the occasion, and in case you don’t have your own, feel free to buy a mask from one of the nearby shops, or even have one crafted for you by some of Venice’s famous mask-makers.