Nothing quite prepares you for the grandeur and antiquated glory of Venice. The most unique city in the world is an archipelago of more than 100 small islands interconnected via canals and bridges, that lures 25 million tourists to its fragile shores every year.
Venezia is full of beautiful contradiction – one minute you’re enjoying a glass of prosecco at the posh Caffé Florian on the marvellous Byzantine Piazza San Marco and the next you’re dodging low-flying pigeons down a dingy narrow lane, stopping for an espresso and tapas (cicchetti) at an authentic hole-in-the-wall deli type bar (osteria), and rubbing shoulders with the locals.
The must-see list in Venice includes the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, the Basilica San Marco, Galleria Dell Academia complete with da Vinci’s drawings, the Ponte Dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), and the Riva degli Schiavoni (the Waterfront), among others. Grab a gelato and walk the city flat and even when a Venetian gives you directions, be prepared to get lost -it’s inevitable and you’ll likely discover secret squares (campi) and other hidden gems along the way. Doing a cooking class with Enrica Rocca is loads of fun as she takes you shopping at the Rialto Market before heading to her kitchen to make foodie magic.
There are three main islands to see before you get into Venice – Torcello, mostly a nature reserve and the most peaceful one; Murano, famous for its glassware, and, in the middle of the two, Burano, famous not only for its kaleidoscopic facades, Leaning Bell Tower and lacemaking industry, but for its reputation as the happiest island in Italy.
As the poet Joseph Brodsky once said, “Venice is part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers.” It is exactly that and so much more, and it is always a good idea.
Credit: Allison Foat @allisonfoat