Escapes: Venice

Venice 5By Emma Brown

June 4, 2015

BUILT on more than 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a city of variety: known as the ‘City of Masks’, the ‘City of Canals’ and the ‘City of Bridges’ among others, each moniker captures the essence of what The New York Times described as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”.  

Italy’s famous floating metropolis is full of history, atmosphere, mystery and romance, which attracts about 60,000 tourists every day.

Visitors can lose themselves down the myriad of cobbled paths and canal ways, exploring every twist and turn of the historic city.

Sights

St Marks Square (or Piazza San Marco) is a must-see. The popular square is boarded by prominent buildings, quirky cafes and fine restaurants. Its multitude of attractions and cultured atmosphere give it the reputation for being one of the finest squares in the world. There you will find the majority of Venice’s attractions including the Basilica of St Mark, Doge’s Palace, La Fenice Theatre, Campanile, Correr Museum and Risoginmento Museum and Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.

Art lovers will find themselves at home in Venice. Its unique archive of artwork date backs to the late Middle Ages and can be found all over the city, but the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a popular stop. Located in an unfinished eighteenth century Grand Canal palace, the museum is dedicated to the advancement of twentieth century art. The core display is from Ms Guggenheim’s personal collection, which includes major works of Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical painting, European abstract, and avant-garde sculpture. Tickets are 16.50 Euros for standard and 13.50 Euros for concession. The crowds can be chaotic, so it pays to visit early.

Food and drink

Venetians love to enjoy an aperitivo while watching the sun set over the water. While tourists don’t have to search hard to find a canalside bar, the watering holes at the north-western foot of the Rialto Bridge are a good place to start. Try pulling up a table at Naranzaria or Bancogiro. For those who prefer more of a birds-eye view of the city, Skyline Bar will deliver the goods.

Traditional Venetian cuisine is easily attainable across the city. A real crowd pleaser for authentic food is Ristorante la Porta D’acqua, located in San Polo. The charming old restaurant serves large portions of homemade pasta, catch of the day and fresh vegetables.

Round off a great meal with a famous Italian gelato. La Boutique del Gelato, a small but hugely popular outlet on Salizzada San Lio, is known to sell the city’s best. Be prepared to wait a while but it is definitely worth the wait.

Nightlife

Venetian nightlife varies from relaxed small bars to party central.

Chet Bar, in Campo Santa Margherita, is a typical local bar; full of atmosphere and offering extensive wine and cocktail lists at reasonable prices. It is popular among locals and tourists alike.

For those with more expensive taste, the LondraBar at Hotel Londra Palace in Riva Degli Schiavoni has a great reputation for its cocktails. Although it is a tad more expensive than your average local bar, the cocktails served are said to be some of the best in Venice.

Getting around

Venice is has no cars or roadways, which leaves transportation to foot or ferry; however, a gondola ride is recommended for the more traditional, quintessential tourist experience.

The city’s canals are ranked 40 in the 100 Wonders of the World, and what better way to explore them than a Row Venice tour. This authentic excursion takes visitors onto the waterways to command their very own gondola; learning how to row like a traditional Venetian. The stand-up rowing style was originally developed to traverse the city and its lagoon and today it’s iconic to the city.

Row Venice has three tours: a 90-minute private rowing lesson; the Cichetto Row which includes food and wine sampling of Venetian foods, and the 90-minute evening lesson which allows visitors to take in the beautiful city lights. Tours range from 80 Euros to 240 Euros and can cater to groups of all sizes.

Need to know

All major airlines fly from Australia to Venice, on average it takes two days and requires a stopover along the way. Depending on the time of year tourists choose to visit Venice is beautiful all-year-round but the climate varies substantially so it’s important to pack accordingly.