Venice: what to see in the city
Venice is a city dense and rich in
culture and art. It is impossible to mention all the attractions and
monuments. This guide does not claim to encompass all the beauty of the
city, but we will try to list the main points of interest that will help you create your itinerary.
If you decide to go to Venice by steamboat, along the route that will take you directly to Piazza San Marco, you will be able to admire the long stretch of characteristic buildings overlooking Grand Canal. Once you get to Piazza San Marco,
known also as the drawing room of Europe, you will find elegant,
historic cafès and street performers. Here you can visit St. Mark's
Basilica, an example of Veneto-Byzantine architecture – with the
essential climb to the top of the Campanile (bell tower) to enjoy a breathtaking view – and the Palazzo Ducale, historic Doge Palace, housing numerous works of art.
Before moving on with your tour, we recommend waiting for the toll of the Clock tower. On a terrace at the top of the Tower are two bronze statues (the Moors), who ring the large bell on the hour.
From the clock Tower, continue along Mercerie, the three main shopping streets, to get to the Rialto Bridge,
the oldest bridge in Venice. It dates back to 1181, but initially it
was a pontoon bridge, then, as the Rialto market grew in importance, it
was replaced by a wooden bridge, before being replaced by a stone bridge
in the 16th century, the same one we see today.
Past the Rialto Bridge, there are two other bridges worthy of note: Ponte delle Guglie, located in the Cannaregio district, the only one adorning spires (guglie) located at the base of the handrails, and the Bridge of Sighs,
visible only from a gondola or from Canonica Bridge and Ponte della
Paglia. This small, Baroque bridge was built in 1600 at the order of
Doge Marino Grimani to connect the Palazzo Ducale with the prisons, to
act as a passageway for prisoners. Legend has it, in fact, that the
bridge derives its name from the prisoners' sighs before they were
The bridges, however, are not the only architectural
structures of interest. A visit to the historic palaces should, in fact,
be an absolute must during your trip to Venice. These include Ca’ D’Oro, in the Cannaregio district, seat of a museum; Palazzo Grassi overlooking the Grand Canal and the venue for many prestigious exhibitions, and Palazzo Franchetti,
the seat of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. For those
who are interested, you can still stay in some of these residences, like
in Schiavoni Palace
For art enthusiasts, we
suggest visiting the Gallerie dell’Accademia, located in the Dorsoduro
district, which hosts leading Venetian and Veneto artists who lived
between 14th and 18th century, including Giorgione, Bellini, Carpaccio,
Veronese, Tintoretto and Tiziano. The Guggenheim Collection,
located in Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni, once the private apartment of
Peggy Guggenheim, houses the works of some of the greatest European and
American artists of the 20th century, such as Picasso, Duchamp,
Kandinsky, De Chirico, Dalì and Pollock.
If, on the other hand, you are more interested the sea, don't miss the Naval History Museum,
where you can see exhibits relating to the seafaring history of the
Serenissima, various items of period equipment and typical boats from
Venetian lagoon, including gondolas.
Lastly, don't miss an
opportunity to visit a casino. In the past, gambling was a rather common
activity among Venetians, and signs of its history can still be seen
today. Casino Vernier is without doubt one of the most
fascinating of the surviving casinos in Italy, and it is open to the
public. Not only can you sit down and try your luck, you can also take
part in cultural initiatives and cinematographic events.
And if you have the budget for it, a romantic ride in a gondola is the perfect ending to your trip.