Last week, I traveled to Italy for seven days. For three of those days I stayed in the North and visited Venice, Padova and an important spa resort, called Montegrotto Terme. The next three days I was in Rome and stayed in a high class apartment in Rome’s best neighborhood, the quiet and elegant Parioli. However, that’s going to be another story because today I will tell you a few things about Venice.
In Italian, the city is spelt Venezia, but it’s also known as “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Bridges”, and “The City of Light”. Rightfully, I will have to agree with those that put Venice at the top of the list of the most beautiful cities in the world, so here’s what you shouldn’t miss if you’re planning your trip here.
The Rialto Bridge
You can’t miss The Rialto Bridge. It is the oldest bridge of them all (crossing the Grand Canal) and also the most famous. It’s a vibrant place in Venice that gets lots of tourists stopping to enjoy the beauty of the city. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico and the whole place is packed with small shops where you can get really good deals on leather goods and classic Venetian masks.
A Gondola Ride
It’s pretty incredible to see everyone enjoying a ride in a traditional Venetian rowing boat, with a gondolier (the oarsman) that guides you through the small canals. Gondalas no longer serve as public transportation in this city and have only remained as a tourist attraction. An expensive tourist attraction I must say. There are several courses that you can choose from and my advice is to go with the standard because for the medium or large, they charge a lot extra, only for a few more minutes. We paid ?100 (for 4 people) for some 25 minutes.
Piazza San Marco
Famous for its pigeons and the stunning architecture, Piazza San Marco is the central landmark and gathering place in Venice, the most vibrant spot where most of the festivals take place. Dominated by the San Marco Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica’s campanile, it’s one of the best places for photographers to spend time.
Just for the record, Piazza San Marco is the lowest point in Venice and when it rains heavy, it floods.
Traditional examples of the lagoon’s own culture, the islands of Murano and Burano in the Venetian Lagoon, are reminiscent of the old days. Famous worldwide for glass making and lampworking, in Murano you’ll be able to buy some of the most elitist brand of glass in the world – Venini, Barovier & toso, Pauly, Seguso – or see the oldest glass factory established in 1866 and still active today. If you’re passionate, you can also visit the Glass Museum, located in Palazzo Giustinian.
I’m pretty sure after a full day of walking the small streets, you’ll get hungry therefore try the traditional Venetian cuisine. It’s a bit different from the Italian food you know, with accents on fish and vegetables. I tried cicchetti (which includes fried crab claws, meat balls, half boiled eggs with anchovies and fried vegetables – pictured below) and my girlfriend had sardee in saor which are sardines cooked and marinated with onions and vinegar.
Don’t choose those restaurants in the crowded plazas because they’ll ask for more of your money. Go for a small street restaurant instead and you’ll probably eat better and cheaper.
Words are not enough to guide you through Venice, therefore prepare for two full days of walking and you’ll know what I mean.