The most romantic city in the world, Venice is a city built on water – just off the north east coast of Italy, facing the Adriatic Sea – and is famed for its canal network, opulent palazzos and beautiful religious buildings and art. It has an airport on the mainland but from there, you need to take a water bus to reach the city.
The best way to experience Venice is in a cool, quiet and sophisticated hotel. These small but beautifully designed hotels offer you respite from the tourist throng and the sort of service you would expect from much more expensive locations. I chose a hotel near the Rialto Bridge, not far from Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. I advise you to choose a characteristic but new hotel, at least four stars and to carefully examine the reviews because Venice is a very tourist city and many times the services offered although expensive do not have the standards that we expect to receive.
What can I see?
For a relatively small city, there’s a lot to pack into a short visit.
Piazza San Marco is the first place that comes to mind when it comes to Venice. The large square on which the Basilica stands, with pigeons waiting for some crumbs, is perhaps the most famous image of Venice. During the years of the Serenissima Republic, it hosted fairs, tournaments, procession, and hunting for bulls, while today it is surrounded by (very) expensive bars, where you can sit and watch live the passage of tourists from all over the world entranced by so much beauty. The Grand Canal crosses Venice for 4 kilometers, dividing the historical center of the city into two parts. Far older than the city itself, the Canal has an S-shape on the contrary and in some places it reaches even 5 meters of depth. Its width varies depending on the areas of the city, there are places where it is 70 meters wide. If you want to observe and admire the city from a different point of view, join the tour on the Grand Canal, which starts from the Santa Lucia train station to Piazza San Marco to offer you a wonderful scenery. The buildings that overlook the Grand Canal are all facing the waterway, and during the tour they seem to be competing to capture the attention of tourists. Looking at the beauty of the buildings, the harmony of the buildings and the narrow alleys that can be glimpsed as the boat proceeds slowly towards Piazza San Marco, you can understand why Venice has always been one of the most loved cities in the world.
If you have time, visit the nearby islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, all historically and culturally worth a visit.
How do I get around?
One of the beauties of Venice is that it has no road network. Most tourists use the waterbus (Vaporetto) system, which is regular and fairly cheap. Those who are looking for romantic Venice can hire a gondola at a greater cost. By far the best way to explore the city, however, is on foot. This way, you can reach the parts of the city that most waterbuses don’t travel to and discover architectural and shopping delights along the way.