Venice, the capital of the Veneto region, is located in the northeastern portion of Italy. It may be one of the most beautiful, romantic cities in Europe! People speak of this UNESCO World Heritage Site as a city, which it is. But many don’t realize it is actually situated across 118 small islands in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, separated by canals and linked by 400 bridges. Getting around the city is either done by foot or boat. Walking is quite comfortable since there are no vehicles and the distances to cover are not significant.
The climate of Venice makes it a perfect destination for travelers. Between May and October, the average high temperature ranges from 65F to 82F (18C to 28C), and the lows are a very comfortable and cool 49F to 65F (10C to 18C).
Visitors to this amazing city will have a host of options when it comes to things to do. St. Mark’s Basilica, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, is one of the highlights. This historic church is known as the Chiesa D’Oro (Church of Gold) due to the ornate Byzantine architecture consisting of gold ground mosaics. These beautiful mosaics include the Life of Christ and the Last Judgment. And then there are the numerous, grand statues to see.
St. Mark’s is connected to another historic and magnificent landmark of Venice – the Doge’s Palace. Constructed in the Gothic style as the residence of the Doge of Venice, similar to a Duke), the palace experienced several major fires throughout history requiring significant restorations. In 1923, it became one of 11 museums around the city. Overlooking the lagoon is the oldest part of the palace with impressive sculptures on each corner. In the courtyard, visitors will be enthralled by the Giants’ Staircase, which is guarded by two tremendous statues of Mars and Neptune. These signify Venice’s power on land and sea.
One of the major water-traffic corridors in Venice is the Grand Canal that winds its way through the central districts. Lining the banks are 170 buildings dating back to the 13th century that demonstrate the wealth of the time. The architecture is really stunning. In addition to these palazzos are numerous churches. There are now four bridges crossing the Grand Canal, but initially, there was only one – the world-renowned Rialto Bridge.
For shoppers, there is the Rialto Market, with small shops and restaurants to the east, and a farmers’ market to the west of the Rialto Bridge. Louis Vuitton’s flagship store is located in the Rialto Market. If you want to shop, the prices here tend to be lower than other popular areas like the Piazza San Marco – St. Mark’s Square. The square is one of the main attractions of Venice, surrounded by the Basilica, the clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio), and the bell tower of St. Mark’s (Camanile di San Marco). You can easily spend a day here.
There is so much to see and do in Venice; there is no way to cover it all here. But you really should consider checking out a museum or two if you have the time. Venice is renowned for its art and glass. For art lovers, the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia is a must as it is the most significant art museum in Italy. A special art form, Venetian glasswork is quite spectacular and unique. To see some amazing examples, a visit to the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) is definitely in order.
To round out your time in Venice, you really must enjoy its charm and romance on a gondola tour. These are available in several locations along the canals and tend to be about 20-30 minutes in length. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, Venice is sure to delight each and every visitor.
Fun Fact: The ferro on the bow of a gondola holds the oar. Its six phalanges, or fingers, represent the six sestieri of Venice.