For my birthday last year my lovely boyfriend took me for a weekend away to wonderful Venice. I've been meaning to post a guide to what to see and do in Venice for months. But life got in the way. Venice is a wonderful city with lots to see and do. The people are wonderful, the food out of this world and the scenery/architecture is breathtaking.
We travelled from East Midlands Airport and stayed on a boat for the three days we were there. Whilst there are many things of interest in Venice I've compiled a list of our favourites. In August this year we will return to Italy but this time for two weeks and we'll be travelling all over the country.
Venice is regularly called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe if not the world. The city has romantic scenery, plenty of history and a whole host of exciting things to do. Venice was built on top of a lagoon and has an insane amount of cafes and medieval history.
Of course everyone opts for a gondola ride but there is so much more to Venice. Wander the cobbled streets lined with high end stores. Or visit the plethora of museums filled with amazing art. Indulge in Bolognese or pizza in the multitude of beautiful restaurants. Then, hop onto a waterboat to get to the less touristy areas.
What to see and do in Venice
First on my list of What to see and do in Venice is of course the Grand Canal. What trip to Venice is complete without a sail down the water canal. Gondola rides are extortionately expensive, save some money by hiring a water taxi instead. If you're doing Venice on a very tight budget just jump on a water bus. A ride on these costs just a few euros. They can get crowded though especially during high tourist season when the weather is warmer.
Visit the Bridge of Sighs
Next up on the list of What to see and do in Venice is the bridge of sighs. Not to be confused with the Rialto Bridge. This bridge is a famous bridge with a tragic history. It is located in the city centre and can be found near the Piazza San Marco. It was initially part of the Doge's palace prison. Once prisoners were convicted in the palace they had to cross it to reach the prison. Hence the name. The bridge crossing was their last whiff of freedom before their incarceration. Even though it has a sad history it is a beautiful bridge and the views from it are magical.
Read on for the rest of my guide to What to see and do in Venice.
Piazza San Marco
Third on my list of What to see and do in Venice - Piazza San Marco. Home to Basilica San Marco, Torre dell'Orologio and the Doge's Palace. The piazza itself is stunning and usually top of the list for most tourists. Which also means it gets very, very busy. If you can visit at a quieter time of year or day. It is the perfect place to grab a cappuccino and people watch as it is lined with amazing (but expensive) cafes and restaurants. Definitely one of the most pricey areas of Venice.
St Mark's Campanile is world famous and one of Piazza San Marco's most recognisable sights. It can be found in a St Mark's Square, near the basilica. Each of the tower's bells has a specific purpose, there are five in total. The Renghiera was originally used to announce executions. Trottiera called the members of the Consiglio to meetings. Mezza Terza was used to announce that the senate were sitting in session. Marangona rang to mark the opening and closing of the work day.
The Campanile is currently undergoing a major set of renovations that won't be completed for a few years. Years of winter flooding has caused the campanile to subside. This is also causing cracks in the building itself. The foundations are being strengthened with titanium.
Don't worry you can still climb the Campanile during the renovations.
Murano is a beautiful mound of islands connected by bridges and is situated in the Venetian lagoon. Situated a mile from Venice with a diameter of just a mile so perfect for walking. It's most famous for its history of glass making. Pick up some traditional glass goods and marvel at the brightly coloured houses.
Initially the Doge's private chapel it became Venice's cathedral in the 19th century replacing the Basilica di San Pietro.
This cathedral is free to enter yippee. Take a walk around the central circuit, you'll need to dress appropriately. Keep your knees and shoulders covered. Large bags may not be taken inside. Attend Mass by entering from the north side of the church.
The museum upstairs
Goods from the Crusades fill the Tesoro and there are more amazing treasures on show in the museum upstairs. Check out the Quadriga of St Mark's, a gathering of four bronze steeds pillaged from Constantinople. They were later hauled away to Paris by Napoleon before being come back to the basilica. These are presently kept inside however an entryway leads out to where they were initially put on the Loggia dei Cavalli.
Between mid-September and October, you can get free guided tours explaining the religious messages in the mosaics. They're given in various dialects on various days; check online.
The inside is resplendent with beautiful ceiling mosaics, constructed from 24-carat gold leaf. Go see: Apostles with the Madonna , it has stood guard for over 950 years.
The Cupola of the Prophets contains the sarcophagus containing St Mark's body. Hand over €2 and witness the beauty of the Pala d’Oro, a gold altar containing beautiful gemstones.
Venice's notable gallery follows the improvement of Venetian workmanship from the fourteenth to eighteenth hundreds of years, with works by Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Canaletto, amongst others. The previous Santa Maria della Carità religious circle complex lodging the works kept up its tranquil self-restraint for quite a long time until the point that Napoleon introduced his pull of Venetian workmanship trophies here in 1807.
Note that restoration is on-going and a few rooms may be briefly shut – check the site.
The fabulous display you enter upstairs highlights clear early works that demonstrate Venice's bright energy for art. A valid example: Jacobello Alberegno's Apocalypse (Room 1) demonstrates the prostitute of Babylon riding a hydra, prattling streams of blood from her mouth. At the other end is Paolo Veneziano's Coronation of Mary(Room 1), where Jesus places the crown on his mother with a delicate congratulatory gesture.
Check out the frightful, shining skies of Carpaccio's lively Crucifixion and Glorification of the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Mount Ararat (Room 2), which offers an extreme complexity to Giovanni Bellini's unobtrusively elegant Madonna and Child between St Catherine and Mary Magdalene (Room 4). Further along, Room 10 highlights sketches by Tintoretto and Titian, just as Paolo Veronese's monumental Feast in the House of Levi, initially called Last Supper until Inquisition pioneers denounced him for appearing, boozers, dwarves, Muslims and Reformation-disapproved of Germans romping with Apostles.
While rooms 12 to 19 are at times utilised for transitory displays, it's in Room 12 that you'll discover Giambattista Piazzetta's saucy, destiny enticing socialite in Fortune Teller. However even her bait is no counterpart for the heavenly works gracing Room 20. Among them is Gentile Bellini's Procession in St Mark's Square, which offers an interesting perspective of Venice's notable piazza before its sixteenth century makeover. Room 21 is no less enamoring, home to Vittore Carpaccio's St Ursula Cycle, a arrangement of nine artistic creations recording the holy person's disastrous life.
The first religious community house of prayer (Room 23) is a tranquil gem fronted by a Bellini altarpiece. Sharing the space is Giorgione's profoundly charged La Tempesta (The Storm). Workmanship antiquarians still discussion the significance of the secretive nursing mother and passing warrior with an electrical jolt lightning – is this an ejection from Eden, a moral story for speculative chemistry, or a reference to Venice vanquishing Padua in the War of Cambria?
Decorative wonderful qualities were held for the Scuola della Carità's meeting room, the recently restored Sala dell'Albergo. Executive gatherings would not have been exhausting here, under a luxuriously cut roof and confronting Antonio Vivarini's fold over 1441– 50 perfect work of art, loaded up with cushioned hairy holy people watching out for procedures.
Titian shuts the Accademia with his contacting 1534– 39 Presentation of the Virgin. Here, a youthful, minor Madonna walks up a scary staircase while an unmistakably Venetian horde of spectators point to her model – yet few of the velvet-and pearl-clad shippers offer charity to the down and out mother, or even feed the asking hound.
So there you have my guide to What to see and do in Venice! Have you been?