Automobiles are banned in Venice so every form of transportation floats, making the trek from one sight to another even more enticing. But there’s plenty to see on foot also and tourists are encouraged to wander a little from the crowded streets of the town and explore the back alleys, which truly give tourists a taste of the local color. So the fact that there are no cars makes a trip to Venice unique.
Besides riding a gondola or the vaporetti, Venice’s version of a taxi on water, there are plenty of must-dos while in the city on The Grand Canal.
- Basilica di San Marco (The Golden Church) – Byzantine in style, this cathedral was built mostly during the 11th century in honor of St. Mark, Venice’s patron saint. The huge interior is gilded with Byzantine mosaics that cover nearly every inch of the walls and ceiling. Don’t miss the church’s greatest treasure, the stunning altarpiece known as the Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece). This Gothic masterpiece is encrusted with nearly 2,000 precious gems and 255 enameled panels. It is believed to have been created as early as the 10th century, and embellished by master Venetian and Byzantine artisans between the 12th and 14th centuries.
- Galleria dell’Accademia – So many treasures of Venetian painting are housed in this museum that the true art lover will find a journey through its rooms to be absolutely awe-inspiring. Though there isn’t one particular “famous” piece in this gallery, all the Venetian painters are highlighted, including Bellini, Tintoretto, Titian, Longhi, and Piazzetta. A must see of your trip to Venice!
- Palazzo Ducale and Ponte dei Sospiri (Ducal Palace and Bridge of Sighs) – The long time residence of the Doges (dukes that were elected for life) during their 1000 year reign, The Palazzo Ducale is literally a palace of treasures, with rooms decorated by the finest Venetian artists. This pink and white-marble Gothic-Renaissance palace is one of Italy’s greatest and most visited civic structures. Make sure to visit the Bridge of Sighs, accessed from the Great Council Hall, and connecting the palace to the prison. The bridge was so named by European poets who imagined prisoners sighing their last breath of resignation there before being led to the prison, where they would most surely be executed.
- The Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Assembled by American expatriate Peggy Guggenheim, this museum houses one of the best collections of modern art worldwide. The collection focuses especially on Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, and European Abstraction. The 18th century palace used for this gallery is located directly on the Grand Canal and visitors will enjoy the works of such modern artists as Picasso, Ernst, and Pollock. Art buffs flock here on their trip to Venice, and so should you.