Any trip to this waterborne city inevitably starts at Piazza San Marco, with its entourage of glittering monuments. Here are photo opportunities galore, including feeding pigeons and rooftop views from the Campanile (bell tower).
A trip in a gondola rowed by a handsome gondoliers, as you glide on the magnificent Grand Canal beneath the majestic Rialto arch, is about as delightfully stereotypical as it can get. But there is much more of Venice to be experienced, hidden away in the city`s backwaters.
All it takes is a wrong turn, a detour from the tourist trails and the maddening crowds are left behind as you wander into the real Venice, where the locals live, work and socialize. In this maze of alleys, wonderful rewards come in the form of authentic neighbourhood cafes and canalside wine bars, or osteria, buzzing with the sounds of the local Venetian Dialect. These are inviting places for a relaxed morning cappucino or a unhurried alfresco lunch.
Wander further to discover tiny squares where kids play football and neighbours settle down to chat beside Renaissance churche housing exquisite worrks of art. Then, unexpectedly, you emerge at the lagoon`s edge in the company of wheeling seagulls to enjoy far-reaching views against a backdrop of the snow-spattered Alps.
The immense 550sq-mile expanse of the Venice lagoon has much to offer visitors, too. Its waters are dotted with islands that have been inhabited since Roman times and through the Middle Ages. There are still hosts of monasteries (albeit abandoned), the famous lazaretti, or hospitals, constructed for plague victims and lepers, and small but thriving fishing communities. Barely navigable channels snake through shallows and salt marshes. The northern stretch harbours fish farms, market gardens and open spaces where herons, cormorants and flamingoes come to breed.
The public waterbus, or vaporetto, runs out to Murano, with its world-famous glass:Burano, known for its lace; and Torcello, where the first lagoon dwellers settled. The lagoon`s southern end features islands with multiple uses, from being ancient ammunition dumps to havens for refugees.
Just 20 minutes away by waterbus from St. Marks`s is the Lido, with its long stretch of sandy beach offering respite from the high culture of the city. Further south, joining the mainland, the lively fishing port of Chioggia is worth a visit for its sandy beach and fish restaurants.
A little off the beaten track, these backwaters of the “floating” city hide a uniquely Venetian allure.
Getting There and Around
Marco Polo airport is 6 miles northeast of Venice. Buses take 20 minutes to reach the city and launches about 45 minutes. The city is best explored on foot, although the public ferry or vaporetto makes for a relaxing cruise.
Top Attractions in Venice
1.Saint Mark’s Basilica (Free)
2.Musica A Palazzo (Paid)
3.St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) (Free)
4.Teatro La Fenice (Paid)
5.San Giorgio Maggiore (Free)
6.Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Paid)
7.Santa Maria deiMiracoli (Paid)
8.Rialto Bridge: (Free)
9.Gondola Ride (Paid)
10.Santi Giovanni e Paolo (Paid)
11.Santa Maria della Salute: (Free)
12.Ca’ Rezzonico (Paid)
13.San Zaccaria (Free)
14.Campo Santa Margherita (Free)
When to go
Winter can be sunny and crisp, with fewer crowds. However take heed that in the months of Octomber, November and December, you are more lilkely to encounter flooding, know as Acqya Akta. Spring (Mar-May) is lovely, as a kuttke warmth streams into the sun`s rays.