Cross-hatched with canals, Venice, among its many attributes, can boast that it is one of the world’s most unusual cities. For centuries, Venetians have lived an amphibious lifestyle, using boats and gondolas to navigate the waterways that divide the cities into six districts or sestieri.
A water ferry from the airport is the cheapest way to enter Venice. If narrow canals are the veins of Venice, the Grand Canal is its aorta. As the ferry approaches this canal, visitors begin to appreciate the splendour of the city.
The San Marco sestiere provides an awe-inspiring glimpse into the regal dominance of Venice’s golden era in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. St Mark’s Cathedral, gilded with gold mosaics, accomplished frescos and rotund, eastern style spires is an obvious favourite for visitors to Venice.
The Cathedral faces onto a meticulously designed St Mark’s Square. By night, when the intimidating posse of pigeons have taken flight, cafés in the square employ orchestral brass bands, acting as a live soundtrack to the surreal perfection of the city. However be warned, a lowly coffee in these cafés may cost you upwards of €12.
Just off the square is the Palazzo Ducale, a palace that demonstrates the zenith of Venice’s wealth and power. The palace’s golden staircase, lavish Great Hall and eerie dungeons as well as the famous Bridge of Sighs, named after the desperate expressions of the prisoners having been sentenced in the palace’s courts, are of particular interest.
Crossing the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro Sestier is recommended for a quieter and more traditional side of Venice. Hosting the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Accademia gallery, the sestier also is home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum. Although relatively compact, the museum hosts a fine collection of contemporary art and a garden containing modern and interactive sculptures.
Although gondola rides are automatically Goodbodyassociated with Venice, they are extortionately expensive. A cheap and quicker way of getting the experience is to employ the services of the gondoliers who are utilised to cross the broad sweeps of the Grand Canal for a fee of 50 cent.
Venice is not the only island in the region that is uniquely captivating. A ferry to the haunting, practically deserted island of Torcello is highly recommended. An ancient 7th century cathedral slowly degenerates in the midst of the few houses and small restaurants that populate the once-thriving suburb of Venice.
The island of Burano appears gem-encrusted with its brightly painted houses offers many charming shops and restaurants. It is a short 20-minute ferry ride from the city of Venice.
Beautiful Venice is, but in the dense, stifling heat of the summer, it can be claustrophobic. Therefore, late spring or early autumn is the prime time to visit Venice.
The reputation of Venice as an expensive city is not undeserved. Accommodation, food and alcohol are not aimed for a student budget. However, weather providing, picnics in any of the many beautiful enclosed squares will spare your wallet unnecessary burdens. Merely soaking up the ambience of the spectacularly beautiful city is not only free, but also a highlight of visit to Venice.