The dreamy Venice has always been a popular tourist destination, and for a good reason – it is absolutely stunning. With its mesmerizing art and architecture, the romantic appeal of the canals, the local Italian coffees and bars serving one of the best foods in the world, this ancient town build on a lagoon, although intimate in size, is truly packed with beauty.
It is a “must-visit” tourist location.
Piazza San Marco
The St. Mark Square (Piazza San Marco) is a central landmark and meeting place always overcrowded with tourists, photographers and pigeons. Venice’s main city square is one of the few ancient European squares that is a pedestrian zone, with no motorized traffic done, accessible only by canals.
All of the other squares in Venice due to their significantly smaller size are not called piazza but campi. This square has always been considered the center of Venice and is the chosen venue for many different Venetial festivals.
The Bassilica di San Marco is a Venetian cathedral and indisputably, the most famous church in Venice. With its exemplary Byzantine architecture, this 11th century building is a sumptuous design with an interior that is completely filled with gilded Byzantine mosaics – a status symbol of Venetian power and wealth for which it is named Chiese d’Oro (Golden Church)
The Mark’s clock is located in the tower of St. Mark’s square mark, as a part of the old Procuratie Vecchie town hall originating from the 15th century. As one of the first public astronomical clocks built in Europe, it has a rich and controversial history that follows, as well as numerous restorations to preserve this historical monument.
The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is a Gothic palace that served as the residence of Venetian doge. It was customary that after the election, each doge left his home and settled in the doge’s palace for the duration of his term. The Palace has picturesque stone facades, with series of Gothic arcades in the lower part, and fine ornamentation with large monophores in the upper part.
The palace suffered serious damage in a fire back in 1574 and during the restoration it strictly adhered to its original Gothic appearance, although initially the idea was to build it in a completely new neoclassical spirit according to the Palladium project.
The palace, however, is not entirely Gothic: the new part of 16th century by which the palace is connected to the prison (Piombi) via the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) is Renaissance. Today, the Doge’s Palace is a museum with very valuable paintings, frescoes, sculptures, furniture and objects of applied art. The palace houses numerous works by Tintoretto, Veronese, Tiepolo, Guardia and other great artist, making the Doge’s Palace one of the most visited Venetian museums.
Gondoliers are part of the history of Venice as well as the myth. Excellent knowledge of city waterways is passed on from generation to generation, or more precisely from father to son since it is still a male occupation. Traditional gondolier clothing consists of straw hat with ribbon and striped sailor shirt and black pants. The gondola, with narrow hull and flat in the middle of the lower part, is designed to easily maneuver through shallow and narrow channels. Once crucial for transporting goods from markets to palaces, today they are predominately used for leisure and a gondola right is most likely one of the most important experiences in Venice.
The gondolier stands upright pushing the oar and thus steers the boat in the direction it is facing, which is usually for rowers. Passengers sit on upholstered pillows and low benches.
Ponte dei Sospiri
The Bridge of Sighs is one of the most famous bridges in Venice. Legend has it that its unique name was coined by Lord Byron in the 19th century, as prisoners sighed at the sight of beautiful Venice through a prison window before being taken to their cells. The modern legend of the bridge is that couples in love who pass under the bridge right at sunset and who kiss will remain forever in love.
If you have time, we definitely recommend a visit to the Venetian islands. Murano is the closest, with Burano and Torcello slightly further away, but still very close by. Murano is known for stained glass, and with a little luck on your side, you might see incredibly talented glass masters in action. Next is Burano, known for its lace and its colourful houses; they are so colorful the fishermen could spot them when they were at sea. Torcello is small; there are only 15 houses on the island.
Drive through the Grand Canal
No visit to the ‘Serenissimo’ is complete without a tour of the Grand Canal. Why not do it in style, like a celebrity from the golden age of film who attended the Island Film Festival. The most beautiful ride (next to the gondola) is provided by the Riva, the cult Italian motorboat. And in the end, one of the most beautiful things to do in Venice is just to walk around and get lost in that unique city.
The Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) is the oldest and most famous of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal in Venice. Over time, the traffic over the pontoon bridge increased so much, due to the market in the eastern part, that a wooden bridge was built in 1255. It was a building with two symmetrical moving ramps, which could be raised to allow the passage of high ships. During the first half of the 15th century, shops were built along the bridge, on each side. This wooden beam bridge was partially burnt down during the revolts of 1310. It then collapsed under the weight of the spectators of 1444 who followed the procession of ships, – it fell again under the weight of 1524.
The idea to build a stone bridge instead of a wooden one first appeared in 1503. The solution of Antonio da Ponta’s single-arched stone bridge of a boldly large span (for the time) won. Except for the boldly large arch, the bridge in many ways resembled an old wooden one. Just like the old man, he had shops on each side and a portico in the middle. Construction began in 1588, the bridge was completed in 1591 and to this day it is in function, not only to serve a purpose, but is one of the greatest attractions of Venice.
The inhabitants of Venice celebrated the arrival of spring through carnival festivities, but it was not only then that they wore masks. Masks were not allowed to be worn during major religious holidays but were allowed from New Year’s Eve to Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, from Assumption to mid-June, and from early October to mid-December. They were worn at official banquets, at court parties, in casinos, often on the street, and sometimes when visiting monasteries.
There were numerous reasons why masks were worn, often semi-criminal. Namely, people hid their identity from those with whom they were indebted or from the spouses of their lovers.
Lascivious transgressions also took place in monasteries, men disguised themselves as women and made love to nuns. Therefore, on January 24, 1458, the doge issued one of the first proclamations forbidding masks in certain situations – in this case he forbade men to visit monasteries in disguise. More and more immorality took place under the guise of a mask in the golden age of Venetian history, so more and more bans limited masking, until in 1703 masks were banned in casinos and thus allowed only at official banquets – and during the carnival.
Men clad in black cloaks wore masks called ‘bauta’ that hide the upper part of the face – eyes, nose and cheeks, but leave the mouth open so the wearer can talk freely, eat and flirt during banquets. The women wore masks called ‘moretta’ – oval-shaped masks made of black velvet and covered with a veil. Artists who made masks out of leather or paper, painted them with their hands and decorated them with feathers and stones were united in guilds, had special laws and privileges, and enjoyed a special status in Venetian society.
Caffè Florian and Coffee Museum
Visit Caffè Florian and the Coffee Museum in St. Mark’s Square. Located under the porches of St. Mark’s Square, the Florian Café is one of Venice’s most important social institutions, therefore, you must have a coffee in that ancient café. Sit in the square and enjoy the view. Afterward, take a look at the coffee museum behind the cafe (your bill is also a ticket).
Bacari and Spritz
You must have an ‘aperitif’ in a typical Venetian ‘bacar’ (small osters that are best known for their small snacks) and the best recommendation is the famous ‘spritz’ with ‘cicheto’. The nicest thing is that you don’t need to stay in one bar, but you can go from one place to another.
Spritz is a world-famous Venetian drink made from Aperol, Seltzer, white wine, ice and slices of orange.
Cicheti are small cheap snacks of Venetian cuisine made from fish, meat or vegetables, more or less like Spanish tapas
Ombrets are small wine glasses
‘Far bàcara means to celebrate in the Venetian dialect
Some of the most visited places are: All’Arco, Na Merca, Al Timon, Bacareto od Lele, Bacaro Risorto, Bar ai Nomboli, Cantina Do Mori, Cantina Do Spade, Cantina Vecia Carbonera, Cantina di vini gia Schiavi (Al bottegon), Enoteca Do Colonne, La Cantina, Muro Venezia Rialto, Osteria Al Ponte ‘La Patatina’, Osteria Al Portego, Osteria Alla Ciurma, Osteria Alla Staffa, Osteria Alla Vedova Ca ‘D’Oro, Osteria Bancogiro, Ostaria Do Zemei, Trattoria Da Fiore