Tips on a Vacation in Venice (Venezia).
Venice (Venezia) still remains one of the most romantic, lovely and interesting places left in the world. Venice is situated in the North Eastern part of Italy, comprises of 117 small islands situated along the Adriatic sea in the Venetian lagoon,400 bridges of which makes it a number destination.The city (Rialtine islands) are linked by the 150 canals, and 400 bridges.
The classical Venetian boat is a Gondola, which in the olden days was the main transport. Venice, is easily walk-able, as it is absent of cars consequently making it a particularly pleasant experience. As an indication one can walk from one end to the other in approximately an hour. If you would like to get around a bit more quickly, then use the Water Taxi’s or Water Buses called vaporetti. There are numerous vaporetti on the canals.
Or with your luxurious motor-launch boat tour of the Grand Canal brings the magic of Venice alive. You will learn about the origins and evolution of Venice’s most important street, the “Grand Canal”. You can comfortably sit and take photographs whilst you take this fascinating journey listening to the detailed commentary provided by your guide as all boats are equipped with microphones and speakers so you can clearly hear the commentary.
But the best and romantic way to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of this magnificent city built on water is by the Gondola, can you imagine gliding up Venice’s Grand Canal and the many minor canals. Discovering the diverse areas of the city and enjoy a thorough introduction to the city of Venice. The Gondola is ideal being small enough to navigate the minor canals, here you will be able to see where all the splendid palaces are, churches, bridges, gardens and warehouses all lining the city’s waterways.
The weather in Venice is rather hot and humid during summer. Heavy rainfall is experienced in November and December. Coldest months are January and February. A point to remember, Venice can be flooded with high waters in autumn and winter. Security measures are taken when the tide is high by recommended alternative routes for the pedestrians.
Currency Is Euro. €.
Accommodation suggestions Venetian hotels have an aesthetic value added to their facade with much of the Venice’s historical significance. Some have been built from historic palaces, elegant buildings this makes them even more unique lodgings for the travellers.
Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin. Giudecca 10, 30133. Tel: (041) 520-7744 The Palazzo Vendramin and connecting Palazzetto are two 15th century buildings linked to the Hotel Cipriani through an ancient courtyard and flowered passage-way, on the tip of Giudecca Island, this iconic Orient-Express hotel commands the most beautiful views of the lagoon and Doge’s Palace. Steeped in Venetian style, it is known for interiors decorated in exquisite local artifacts.
San Clemente Palace Hotel, di San Clemente 1, San Marco 30124. Tel. (041) 244-5001. Set on the 17 acre private island of San Clemente – an untouched retreat on the Venetian lagoon dating from the 12th century, boasting magnificent views of St.Mark’s, Giudecca Island and the Lido. It is only 12 minutes away from St.Mark’s Square by complimentary shuttle boat.
Bauer Il Palaz Hotel, San Marco, 1459, 30124. This luxury, 5 star hotel is set in an 18th Century historic palace features uniquely decorated and furnished rooms with the most refined furniture such as, gold-plated mirrors, tapestries, Murano glass chandeliers, and accessories. Most rooms have a balcony or a terrace with breathtaking view over the town, the Grand Canal and Saint Marc basin.
Hotel Rialto. Riva del Ferro / Ponte di Rialto, San Marco 5149, 30124. Tel. (041) 520-9166. In the historic, artistic, and commercial heart of Venice.Traditionally furnished Venetian rooms and suites. It is in a unique and enviable position overlooking the Grand Canal, just across from Rialto Bridge, one of the most beautiful and suggestive spots of the city.
Hotel Marconi, Riva del Vin, San Polo, 729. Tel. (041) 522-2068. The Marconi overlooks the famed Rialto Bridge on Venice’s Grand Canal. The rooms are decorated in a traditional Venetian style. It is surrounded by historic markets and traditional Veneto restaurants.
Albergo Cavalletto & Doge Orseolo. San Marco, 1107, 30124. One of the oldest Hotels in Venice with more than seven centuries of tradition in serving famous people. During its history people like the Duke of Aosta, Richard Strauss and Sir Winston Churchill stayed at the Cavalletto Doge Orseolo. The Hotel is located few meters away from St. Mark’s Square and with classic Venetian rooms facing Bacino Orseolo.
Hotel Giorgione. Cannaregio Ss. Apostoli 4587, Cannaregio, 30121. Tel. (041) 522-5810. If you are looking for an elegant setting for your stay in Venice, then the Hotel Giorgione is ideal. Set in an 18th century building, it has a beautiful courtyard and fountain. Converted to a luxury hotel in the early 19th century, the Giorgione Hotel retains its stylish atmosphere with antique Venetian furniture, Murano glass lamps and fine fabrics. Set in the quiet, yet strategically central Cannaregio quarter, the hotel is only 5 minutes away from the Rialto Bridge, and 10 minutes from Saint Mark’s Square.
Ca’ Gottardi. Cannaregio, 2283 – 30121. Tel. (041) 275-9333. Ca’ Gottardi a typical Venetian Inn & Guest House with historic palazzo, close to the Rialto Bridge one of the most sophisticated boutique hotels in Venice where traditional art and innovative design combine in rare elegance.
Albergo Cavalletto. San Marco, 1107 – 30124. Tel. (041) 520-0955. All rooms are classically furnished in Venetian style, some rooms offer charming views of the gondolas in the Orseolo Basin.
Residenza Ai Giardini Castello 747-448, Venice 30122, Tel. (041) 812-3037, is one that has authentic elegant rooms and set apart from the tourist’s type accommodation.
Ca’ dei Dogi, Corte Santa Scolastica, Castello 4242, Tel. (041) 241-3751 An antique Venetian palace dating back to the 15th century featuring Venetian details such as marble and mosaics. It is located close to the Palazzo Ducale and the Bridge of Sighs.
Hotel Antiche Figure. Santa Croce 686, Tel. (041) 275-9486 Conveniently located just 300 meters from Santa Lucia Station, this hotel features a beautiful garden restaurant where you can relax with a drink after a day sightseeing. Figure has a romantic view of the Grand Canal.
Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, S. Croce 2063, Tel. (041) 524-4797 it is conveniently located in the heart of Venice.Its ten elegant rooms, combining traditional beauty and modern comfort, occupy two levels of a finely restored building in a tranquil neighborhood.
Obviously there are many more places of accommodation worthy of mention, but unfortunately cannot list them all.
Eating – Restaurants, the following are a few suggestions before we proceed to, “what to go and look at”.
Venice has some wonderful restaurants, featuring the cuisine of the Veneto. Their specialties include polenta, risotto, and pasta with cuttlefish ink sauce. You are never disappointed with the services offered.
Diners should however be aware that for every genuine wonderful restaurant or trattoria, there are many others another serving far lesser quality food at inflated prices. A good indication is if there is a waiter/s outside the premises with menus encouraging business, these places are probably best avoided.
Antico Martini, Campiello della Fenice, S. Marco 2007 – 30124 Tel. (041) 522-4121. A luxury restaurant, beautiful decor, with a romantic atmosphere, Antico Martini attracts connoisseur’s who come to enjoy unforgettable flavors.
Restaurant Antiche Carampane, San Polo 1911. Tel. (041) 524-0165. Meters away from the Rialto Bridge, located in the heart of Venice. It is a restaurant renowned for its Venetian cuisine.
Restaurant La Caravella, Via XXII Marzo 2398. Tel. (041) 520-8901. Historical Restaurant, near St. Mark’s Square, known since the 60’s and has become a must if you like typical traditions dishes, also they have large selection of wines.
Osteria Antico Giardinetto, Calle dei Morti 2253, Santa Croce, Tel (041) 722-882 in the back streets of San Polo, Giardinetto serves traditional Venetian dishes such as salted cod, seafood risotto.
Antico Dolo, San Polo 778. An old seafood restaurant close to Rialto Bridge, where their fresh seafood comes daily from the adjacent Rialto Market.
Do Farai, Dorsoduro 3278. Tel. (041) 277-0369. A must to try their daily fresh razor shell-fish and Pasta.
Trattoria Dai Fioi, Via Miranese 9A, Venice Mestre.Tel. (041) 983-395. Small trattoria offering dishes with products sourced from the local area.
Trattoria Borghi, S. Basilio 1526, Tel. 041 521 0028 a small restaurant, but it is away from the main touristy area. Well known for their pasta and other delicacies.
Algiubagio Restaurant, Cannareggio 5039, Fundamente Nuove, Tel. (041) 523-6084. For the perfect evening what more could one ask, a creative menu, in a delicate atmosphere.
Bistrot de Venise, San Marco 4685, Calle dei Fabbri, Tel. (041) 523-665. A Historical Venetian Cuisine of a gastronomic journey back in time to the ancient tastes and aromas of Venice.
Now that we have eaten, It is time to look around at the famous attractions of Venice.
An absolute must if you’re a first-time visitor to Venice, the Grand Canal Boat Tour, it will not only provide you with memories that will last a lifetime, but you will learn where and how to find all the famous landmarks that you will be able visit during your stay in Venice.
In Venice there are 417 bridges still visible,of which 72 are private. Among them 300 bridges are made of stone, 60 made of iron, the other 57 made of wood. Until the thirteenth century Venice was only built on groups of islands separated by channels. To get to the other side they laid wooden boards across the channels, but nothing joining the Grand Canal banks.
Not suggesting seeing all of these, but a few listed below are worthy of as you walk around.
Ponte di Rialto crosses the Grand Canal being the oldest and most famous Venetian bridge built during the 16th century on 12,000 wooden stakes. It was closely connected to the market activities hence the name “Ponte di Rialto”. The present bridge was built by Antonio del Ponte in 1591, similar to the former bridge constructed out of wood. Today the bridge has a central portico and two inclined ramps in which shops have been constructed.
Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) was built during the 16th century. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It connects the old prisons with the rooms of the Doge’s Palace. “Bridge of sighs”name came from the “sighs” of the prisoners from the Venetian Republic in a final opportunity to view the city before they were led to their cells or to the executioner.
The Ponte degli Scalzi (Bridge of the Barefoot) is one of the three bridges which cross the Grand Canal. It was designed by Eugenio Miozzi and completed in 1934, as a replacement for an Austrian iron bridge.
Academy Bridge, The Academy Bridge (Ponte dell Accademia) is named because it crosses the Grand Canal at the Galleria dell Accademia. It is not a new bridge but it is interesting for its high arch construction and the fact that it is wooden.
Scalzi Bridge. When arriving in Venice via rail to the Santa Lucia Station, the Scalzi Bridge will be the first bridge you will cross after disembarking. The Scalzi Bridge dates from 1934 named for the nearby Chiesa degli Scalzi, literally the “church of the barefoot monks,” the Scalzi Bridge is an elegant stone span that links the Santa Croce and Cannaregio neighborhoods.
Calatrava Bridge. The last bridge constructed in the City (2008) is the one designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This is the fourth bridge crossing the Grand Canal that links Piazzale Roma car parking with Santa Lucia train station.
Next, important places to visit in Venice.
San Marco Square. The Columns of San Marco and San Teodoro were brought from Constantinople and were erected in Piazzetta in the 12th century. A statue of San Teodoro is set on top of one column and on the other a bronze winged lion which is considered as a symbol of Venice.
Saint Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) is a “must see” This building was rebuilt in the 11th century. The interior is molded with more than two square kilometers of beautiful mosaics, it contains treasures such as the “Pala d’Oro”, masterpiece of Gothic-Byzantine goldsmith’s art, precious glasses, amphora’s, cups and icons. Walk out on to the roof to view St. Mark’s square.
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale). This incredible example of Gothic architecture was the official residence of the Venetian ruler. It houses a thousand years of history, you can admire the precious paintings by Tintoretto, Tiziano and Veronese. Discover the section of the palace where the city’s administration worked from. There is the most wonderful five hundred year old roof structure. Not forgetting the jail Casanova spent some years before escaping.
Correr Museum (on San Marco Square) Displays an Interesting collection of globes starting from the 16th century. There is also an archeological museum of Roman antiques and an important picture gallery.
Bell-tower of St.Mark (Campanile di San Marco) rebuilt identically as it was prior to its collapse in 1902. Suggest you go up at the changing of the hour where you will not only hear the bells but admire the incredible view of Venice and the lagoon.
Clock tower (Torre dell’ Orologio) Take a fascinating guided tour of the clocks mechanism and rooftop bell. The restored Clock Tower displays time in Roman numerals. It also shows the moon phases and the Zodiacs.
Marciano Museum, contains the original copy of the large bronze horses that at one time were displayed situated outside the basilica of San Marco. Also displayed are manuscripts, fragments of ancient mosaics and also some antique tapestries.
La Fenice Theater this is a historic theater, it was destroyed by fire 1996 and an identical reconstruction was completed in 2003. Visit using “audio-guide” as it will give you a better appreciation.
Scuola grande di San Rocco. Discover some of the most beautiful works of Tintoretto. It also displays an exquisite example of Manierist art.
Accademia Gallery. This Academy of Venice is one of the most prestigious in Italy of Venetian School from the middle age collection paintings to masters of the Renaissance. A must see.
Archaeological Museum. Here you will see an important collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, including several Greek originals from the classic period.
Ca’ Pesaro. A beautiful palace housing the gallery of modern art, focusing on Italian art in the 19th Century.
Ca’ Rezzonico – A Venetian Palace of the 18th Century. It is like stepping back in time as it “recreates” the atmosphere of the domestic Venetian Nobles. On the ground floor you will find a classic example of a gondola. This boat is around 11 meters long and a weight of 600 kilograms. One single boatman with a single Oar can quickly move it along the vast stretches of water.
The Palazzo Fortuny Museum Once owned by the Pesaro family, this large Gothic Palazzo in Campo San Beneto was transformed by Mariano Fortuny into his own atelier of photography, stage-design, textile-design and painting. The building retains the rooms and structures created by Fortuny, together with tapestries and collections. The working environment of Mariano Fortuny is represented through precious wall-hangings, paintings, and the famous lamps.
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni to the east of the Accademia Bridge. The Peggy Guggenheim Museum offers a personal collection of modern art. Peggy was an American who lived there for more than thirty years married to modern artist Max Ernst. The gallery includes a sculpture garden and works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Serini, Duchamp, Pollock, Dali, and Mondrian.
Other museums include:
San Giovanni e Paolo. A beautiful Dominican church with fine paintings here you will see tombs of many Doges.
Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. A large church where you will enjoy the beautiful monuments and magnificent paintings.
Santa Maria dei Miracoli. A church, simple in form but ornamented with a fine exterior of marble facings.
The Jewish Ghetto is located in Cannaregio district. A Jewish community has been present in Venice since 1152 consisting then of approximately 1300 people. In 1298 it was forbidden for Jews to reside in Venice so they moved to Mestre and the neighboring areas but still permitted entry to the city for their business activities. Over the years their ban to reside in Venice was lifted by decree of the “Maggior Consiglio” in 1516, it was determined that the Jews had to settle in the area of Cannaregio called Getto. The name Getto originated from the foundries in that location manufacturing and supplying guns to Arsenal. From Getto to “Ghetto” changed since it identified urban areas of European cities in which the Jewish community were forced to live. Jewish life is still very active in the Ghetto and also elsewhere in Venice. This is also the home of five synagogues. Visiting on Saturdays (Jewish Sabbath) all shops and restaurants you will find closed.
Shopping. There is no shortage, “you can shop till you drop” you can find excellent quality leather-wear, shoes, wallets, handbags, in the local boutiques you will find some unique items in clothes. In the vicinity of Piazza San Marco you will find all your Brand Names/label items as in, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Versace etc.
If you would like to buy a mask and at the same time see how they are made try Ca’ Macana. In this mask shop if you cannot find one that appeals, then perhaps you did not want in the first place. Also Atelier Marega for a magnificent collection hand-made masks and costumes.
When shopping, beware being offered fakes/imitations in branded items. A couple that you may not have thought possible, like Murano Venetian glass-ware, the Government of Venice protects Murano glass-makers by a decal “Vetro Murano Artistico” trademark at showrooms/shops that sell authentic Murano glass. Another little collector’s piece being the exquisite miniature buildings by “Moro”, trying to stop the fakes, he personally signs his name on the back of the item.
Speaking of Masks, “The carnival in Venice” it is a popular event not only the Venetians but also for the tourists if you are fortunate in your timing. It lasts for approximately ten days starting usually from the last week in December but can vary. This grand tradition stems back to the thirteenth century.
There is a history behind the “mask” and “Carnival”.
“The mask” the masquerading of masks was by everyone from general Venetians to slaves in order to celebrate winter but at the same time to protect themselves from the chilly winter.
“Carnival” the word “carnevale” derived its name from the Latin vocabulary which means “farewell to meat”. Meaning a farewell party for the non vegetarian dishes that the Catholic Christians sacrificed by tradition during the fasting weeks before the auspicious Easter.
Although the carnival of Venice had in its earlier years, moments of disappointments as a non event, for instance after the capture of Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte and then the regime of fascist ruler Mussolini. But since the 1980’s the Carnival has gained an unstoppable momentum. The Venetians in their native name call this festival, “Carnevale di Venezia”.
When you are planning your tour to Venice, try not to miss out on the Islands. Torcello a peaceful tranquil place has an old church. Burano, a pretty fishing village where you can see the Lace museum, the picturesque streets with each house a different shade of pastel. San Geogio dominated by the facade of San Giorgio Maggiore, possibly Palladio’s most beautiful creation in Venice, the church boasts of many treasures.
Murano Island, the island is typically known for its Venetian glass-work. Murano is called “Murano Colonna” and owes its name to the still visible granite column. Glass-related attractions include the many glass-works unfortunately some of the best glass blowing factories are not open to tourists, but there are some factories that give demonstrations. Also you will find a Glass Museum housed in Palazzo Giustinian in the center of the island.
Beware of the dishonest people offering to take you on a free boat ride to see the glass-works at Murano. Prices become over-inflated and if you do not buy you will find yourself stranded. Many souvenir shops try to pass off cheap Chinese counterfeit glass as real Murano glass. The Venetian government protects Murano glass-making. So you must look for the “Vetro Murano Artistico” trademark decal at showrooms that retail authentic Murano glass.
Hope I have made a few suggestions that will make your trip that little less stressful and enjoyable.