After a week in Venice and visits to its near by islands, I come up with a list of things that should not be missed when one is in Venice. They are:
1) Travel by Water – I highly recommend a water taxi ride from airport or train station to the main island for maximum impact, but if this is not within your budget, water bus rides are good too. Venice is a city that has to be experienced in water, and at least a cruise up and down the Grand Canal in a hop-on-hop-off water bus is a must.
2) Gondola Tour of Venice Canals – It may cost 100 Euros for 45 mins but I would say that it is a small price to pay for truly memorable experience. The gondolier takes you to small canals that water buses do not have access. For those interested in culture, history and architecture especially, a gondola ride unveils a completely different Venice than when one explores it on land. He will also take you to Vivaldi’s birthplace and Rialto Bridge. [More detail in my previous post]
3) Piazza San Marco and Piazzetta Dei Leoncini– The principal public square of Venice and its adjacent open space by the lagoon. St. Mark’s Basilica and the famous Clock Tower are situated here.
4) Pallazzo Ducale and its Medieval Prison – The political and judicial centre of Republic of Venice with its Gothic architecture and a Bridge of Sighs linking to its prison cells, is another fascinating location for those interested in culture and architecture. It is steeped in history of Venice.
5) Harry’s Bar – The birthplace of Bellini, a famous cocktail made from prosecco and white peach puree. We tried a few places, so we concluded that Harry’s Bar’s Bellini was still the best in Venice, and probably the best in the world too!
6) Terrazza Danieli – Luckily this was in the hotel where we stayed. Their breakfast buffet was amazing, especially the fantastic panoramic view of the lagoon that we could enjoy every morning. If you are not staying in Hotel Danieli, a dinner at their restaurant, Terrazza Danieli, is highly recommended. The ambience is very romantic and the food is fantastic, but it also comes with a high price tag.
7) Rialto Bridge Area and Fishmarkets – After crossing Rialto Bridge,you will come across a dark area with lots of small houses and passage ways. This area of Old Venice is where the fishermen had their pubs, places to eat and hang out. 400 years ago, it was the main market area for fish, fruits and vegetables; as well as being the main red light district of medieval Venice, dominated by brothels. Fortunately, this fascinating atmosphere has been kept alive and you can still feel the dark, mysterious, somewhat frightening atmosphere of these old days when you explore this area. We arrived here quite late in the day, and it was quite scary to walk around, even though in present day, it was full of typical high street shops and nice little restaurants.
8) Osteria All’ Antico Dolo – The best and most authentic local Venetian restaurant we found was located in Rialto area. The price was reasonable and the food was fresh. One word of warning though, this tiny restaurant only seated about 10 small tables, so either you go early or call to book in advance. As we did not know how to speak Italian, we just went early. It served the best Venetian Cicchetti with special home made Ragno fish stock.
9) Murano Island – If you have half a day to spare, a boat ride to Murano island, home to the art of glass blowing, is highly recommended. Many glass workshops hold public tour of their facility with live demonstration of the glass making process. Hand made pieces produced locally by the glass workshops on the island are also available, but they are very expensive.
10) Burano Island – By far the most memorable island we visited other than Venice of course. It is famous for lace making, and the bright colourful little houses.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the above recommendations. Let me know what you think of Venice the next time you visit the city.