By Susan Baldani
Looking for a unique place to vacation, where you can leave your car behind and just walk (or boat) to your next destination? Then Venice is the perfect destination. With its museums, restaurants, shops and famous bridges, you can spend days wandering around and never tire of the wonders around every corner.
St. Mark’s Square
Choose a hotel near St. Mark’s Square, and you will be perfectly positioned to explore the island. Sitting at the mouth of the Grand Canal, it is in itself a prime stopping place and is the city’s largest square. Here, not only will you be surrounded by museums, cafes and shops, but you will also be at the home of Saint Mark’s Basilica.
Basilica Saint Mark
Right next door is the Basilica, dedicated to Venice’s patron, the apostle Saint Mark. Admire the classic Byzantine architecture and multi-domed roofs, and go inside to attend a Catholic mass. Or, simply book a tour to view the beautiful Byzantine mosaics and famous paintings done by Venetian masters.
The former headquarters of the Republic of Venice, which reigned for 1000 years, and residence of the Duke (Doge), it is now a museum where visitors can see torture chambers and prisons. Attached to it is the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners were said to sigh knowing that this was their last glimpse of freedom.
The most famous bridge in Venice, it spans the Grand Canal. This spectacular ornamental bridge leads right to the Rialto Market, where shoppers can find a variety of fragrant spices, fresh produce, and locally caught fish. Mix with the locals and soak up the culture while exploring all that the market has to offer.
Called one of the best museums of Venetian art from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the museum houses over 800 works by Carpaccio, Veronese, Bellini and more. Founded in 1750, the Academy was the place to be for painters and sculptors.
Need a break from walking? Then hop on a motorboat and relax while heading for the islands on the Venetian Lagoon.
While here, watch master glassmakers craft hand-blown glass into chandeliers, colorful vases and sparkling statues. There’s also the Museum of Glass where visitors can learn about the history of glass making.
On this island famous for lace making, you can visit the Lace Museum to see historic and rare lace made throughout the years. Afterwards, stroll down streets lined with colorful, brightly painted homes.
This is one of Venice’s most visited islands, where you can admire the Byzantine mosaics showcased at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta. You can also walk the paths of a nature preserve to enjoy some peace and solitude before heading back to the motorboat for the next adventure – in this case, shopping!
Louis Vuitton, Versace, Prada and more
Besides the local shops where you can find locally-made items and souvenirs, visitors can find purses, clothing and accessories from high-end designers like Gucci and Valentino near St. Mark’s Square.
Osteria al Portego
After a day of sightseeing and shopping, get ready to eat. Visit a bàcaro, an informal wine bar, to order small plates of delicious food called cicchetti. Located near the Rialto Bridge, this one serves reasonably priced, authentic foods.
Of course, no visit to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. Glide along the canals while a gondolier points out the many bridges and buildings along the network of waterways.
So, ready to explore? Then contact a local travel agent to book your trip. According to Jean Peyton, an agent with Fun Time Travel in Brentwood, there are many advantages to using an agent over doing it yourself online. Agents have access to places and deals that cannot be found elsewhere. Also, your flights, transfers, hotels and tours can all be booked at once. They can also give you advice when it comes to traveling, such as the best time to visit (late spring for Venice), buying euros, obtaining travel insurance, and having the proper paperwork. In addition, if you run into a problem while traveling, your agent will be able to assist you. Best of all, you can get all this for no extra cost, since most travel agents do not charge for their services.
Written for Brentwood Lifestyle in Brentwood, TN