By Marina Aagaard, MFE
Recently I went to Venice for the fourth time (#1 business, #2 romance, #3 holiday, #4 business and pleasure). Even though I have visited more than 400 cities, Venice – without a doubt – is the most amazing and fairytale-like city I have ever seen. I can recommend visiting this special city as soon as possible.
Why the urgency to visit Venice, a city 1 metre above sea level (!) on 118 tiny islands separated by canals and joined by many, many bridges?
Well; with these conditions it should come as no surprise, that parts of the city are flooded occasionally, so the houses wither, along with their rotting foundations (wooden poles), and slowly sink into the sea.
In 1987 Venice was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you go there and you are well off, there are plenty of Palace hotels to stay in, a.o. the Aman hotel, where George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin spent their wedding weekend (I am told …).
If you are on a budget, however, there are also plenty of cheap hotels in Mestre, on the mainland next to Venice, and on the road from Venice to the airport.
For campers there are super facilities, e.g. the mega place Union Lido close by Lido di Jesolo or the Jesolo International Club Camping, Europe’s no. 1 camping site for the third year in a row. From Lido di Jesolo you can go by boat to Venice city centre.
Even if Venice is a rather small city with just 270.843 (2010) inhabitants, you can easily spend weeks (or months) sightseeing … there is a multitude of beautiful buildings, Palazzos with art, small museums and shops with Murano glass, masks, clothes and everything for your home.
Alternatively, if you are fresh out of (lots of) free time, you can go there for an extended weekend stay, which is also highly recommended.
You don’t have to shop in Venice, window shopping, is almost as good. There is so much to see and so many places to go, often for free.
To see list:
- Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square)
- Basilica San Marco (stunning interior with golden mosaics).
- Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – and the Bridge of Sighs.
- Campanile San Marco, 91 m bell tower.
- Canal Grande, 3 km, ‘main street’, take the Water bus.
- Rialto bridge over Canal Grande, seen a.o. from the Water bus.
- Ca’ d’Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia) off Canal Grande.
- Ca’ Rezzonico museum of 18th Century Venice.
- Murano, a group of five islands with glass workshops and museum.
- Lido di Venezia, a tourist area with shopping, casino and cinema.
Alternatively just wander around the streets of Venice. But remember a map (not a must-have but a nice-to-have), because it is like a labyrinth of tiny alleyways.
As with other fantastic cities, Venice is naturally flooded with tourists from all over the World (12 million every year) and especially so in the summertime. So a great tip is to see Venice in the spring or in the fall, in the “off-season” (sort of).
No matter what time of year, my favourite time is in the morning, where most other tourists have not gotten up yet. Then you can relax at a café and watch the city wake up or go for a stroll and see a lot of details, which are impossible to spot otherwise (e.g. the bug bitten pillar or the love locks below) … or maybe you can be the first in line to see the Basilica di San Marco, where you normally queue for hours.
All sightseeing is by foot, because there are no cars in Venice city centre. Apart from walking you get around by water busses, water taxis or gondolas.
Lots of canals mean lots of bridges; below you see four bridges side by side.
It is not just in Pisa, that the towers are leaning. Venice is full of leaning buildings and Towers.
Super sigh(t): The Bridge of Sighs (above) is a closed bridge of White limestone. It passes the Canal Rio di Palazzo, off the Canal Grande, from the old prison of Venice to the courtrooms of the Doge’s Palace.
The bridge was built in 1602 and is designed by Antoni Contino, a nephew of Antonio da Ponte, who constructed the Rialto bridge (below).
Everywhere in Venice you see old architecture and old and modern art and street art.
A special air of adventure and romance from the early morning light to late in the night …