The Italians call it La Serenissima (the most serene). However, the tourist crowds that invade its picturesque cobbled streets and spectacular canals are always accompanied by the murmur of contemporaneity. A short train trip from Rome, Florence, or Milan, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, an open-air museum that houses an abundance of architectural masterpieces. From its ancient colonnades to spectacular buildings and meandering canals, the attractions in Venice lure visitors of all ages who arrive here ready to fall in love with the city.
An infinite maze of mysterious courtyards, narrow and winding streets and arched bridges, Venice is set across 116 islands on what was once a spectacular blue lagoon. Time darkened the lagoon and aged the facades, but it also enriched the city with a surreal beauty and undying charm. The birthplace of Titian and Tintoretto and a muse for artists from all over the world, Venice takes your breath away as soon as you step outside the train station. A surreal world will suddenly open its gates and lure you into its past, romance, melancholy, and historical tales.
Things to see in Venice
There’s a fascinating universe of things to see in Venice! The city is overwhelmingly impressive due to its plethora of attractions that take you back in time and unveil the glamorous, intriguing, and mischievous world of the Middle Ages and Renaissance Venice. The 15th century saw a Venice unequalled by any other city in Europe, a prosperous Republic where grandiose palaces were built and artists were nurtured. This is the Venice travelers come to discover!
Start your journey of exploration in the Venice’s heart – the superb Piazza San Marco framed by majestic buildings and historical colonnades. The only true “piazza” in Venice, this impressive structure dates back to the ninth century but has taken the form you’ll be admiring today in 1177. Sip your cappuccino at one of the many terraces along the square, pay your homage to the insistent pigeons that probably believe they’re humans due to the incessant interaction between our species and theirs, and then head to the most popular attraction in Venice: Basilica di San Marco.
The sumptuous Byzantine basilica reigns over Venice since the 9th century, when it was built as a shrine for the relics of St. Mark. Raised on a plan of a Greek cross and adorned with golden mosaics, the basilica is like no other in the entire world. Take a moment or two to contemplate its surreal beauty and then step inside where you’ll discover some of Venice’s greatest treasures.
Your next stop on your itinerary will naturally be the grandiose Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) situated close by to the basilica, an imposing structure that blends beautifully Gothic and Islamic architectural elements, creating an unforgettable masterpiece. The façade dates from 1365, but the interior houses a Renaissance world that tells stories from the 16th century.
Add a museum or two to your itinerary to learn more about Venice’s history and art. Galleria dell’Academia is a superb art gallery where you’ll have the opportunity to admire paintings by Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto, and Veronese, as well as other masterpieces created by Italian artists. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection brings you face to face with Italian modern art illustrated through the works of artists like Pollock, Dali, Picasso, and Kandinsky while offering beautiful views over the Grand Canal.
Things to do in Venice
Walk the streets! Walk across the bridges! Cruise the canals! Venice is a playground for romantics and history buffs and a muse for artists and dreamers. The best way to discover Venice is to wander through its labyrinth of cobblestone streets and embrace its effortless and genuine charm. There are many bridges in Venice, but not one can match the fame and beauty of Rialto Bridge, a single-stone arched bridge built in 1591 to replace the original 10th-century wooden bridge.
Don’t miss the Bridge of Sighs or Ponte dei Sospiri, a bridge that was once crossed by convicts on their way to the New Prison. You can actually walk the bridge during your visit to the Doge’s Palace.
Climb up the Campanile di San Marco, the bell tower and tallest structure in Venice, for spectacular views of the city, and take to the waters in a gondola. Add flavor and passion to your Venice holiday with a dinner at an elegant restaurant like Il Canova that serves outstanding Mediterranean specialties in a sumptuous décor. Attend an opera or ballet performance at the richly ornate Teatro La Fenice and taste the sophisticated wines of Italy during a wine tasting experience in the company of a certified sommelier.
And, if you visit Venice in February, put on an elegant 18th-century costume and a mask to take part in the decadent and extravagant Venice Carnevale and dance the night away at the Grand Masquerade Ball.
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