One of the world’s most romantic destinations, Venice’s island sanctuary remains virtually unchanged since its glory days in the early Middle Ages. The Republic of Venice and its Doges ruled the vastly profitable trading routes between the West, the Byzantine Empire, Asia and the Islamic world thanks to its strategic position at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea, close to the Alpine trade routes. The resulting riches saw the construction of magnificent palaces, mansions and religious buildings along the city’s Grand Canal, immortalized by Renaissance artist Canaletto in his series of views of Venice.
Perhaps the most romantic aspects of the city are its canals and famous bridges, with gondola rides still the classic way to soak up the ambience of this historic world treasure. From the grandeur of the main canal, with its ornate mansions rising from the waters, to the tiny winding waterways known as the Streets of Venice, the city’s unique sights cast their spells over millions of visitors every year. Venice’s smaller islands, set offshore from the main Rialtine islands, are attractions in their own right, easily accessed by vaporetti, the city’s water buses.
The highlights of Venice are many and the Rialtine islands are small enough to get around in about an hour on foot. Treasures are all around and although you really need a good map to save getting frazzled, you will stumble upon architectural beauty without trying.
Piazza San Marco (for puritans) and its magnificent basilica are the most imposing, set just a step from the Starhotel Splendid. Here you’ll find the Doge’s Palace, the Clock Tower, with its amazing astrological clock, and the nearby Rialto Bridge, the city’s icon.
For art buffs, the Galleria dell’ Accademia, across the water, holds Venetian art from the 14th century onwards, and the beautiful theatre of La Fenice, near the Hotel La Fenice et des Artistes, is a hub for classical concerts and opera. The offshore island of Murano has been famed for its glasswork since the 13th century, when its incredibly delicate, glowing goblets adorned the dining tables of the royal, rich and powerful.
Veneto gastronomy is distinctive. It’s best to avoid southern Italian dishes, such as pizza, and be aware that the pricy trattorias around St Mark’s Square cater more to tourists than gourmets. However, a little investigation will serve up a typically delicious Venetian evening meal or the traditional lunch specialties of cicetti (Italian tapas), which are a favorite with locals when washed down with a Campari Soda or glass of local vino. For a fine dining experience at a good price, try Do Leoni at the Hotel Londra Palace. The courtyard of the historic Restaurante La Caravella on Via XII Marzo also offers a winning combination of ambience and great food.
Venice has delights of all kinds, although it’s altogether too easy to max out your card at the high-fashion brand stores around St Mark’s Square. Local boutiques offering the iconic Italian sense of style are found in Calle della Mandola and Campo Santo Stefano, where the shoes and bags are to die for! The Murano glass workshops offer unique Venetian handicrafts, made using traditional techniques and an eye for fine design. A visit to I Tre Mercanti on Ponte della Guerra, meanwhile, will net you the best olive oil in Italy.
Marco Polo International Airport is the main gateway for the city’s millions of visitors. It is set on the mainland and linked to the city by water bus, water taxi or road, which stops at the edge of the pedestrianized Rialtine islands. Transportation in the ancient city itself is by water or foot power, with no option for road-going vehicles. The train station is near the car parks, again connected to Venice proper by water. The massive and expensive parking lot for visitors arriving by car is at Piazzale Roma and Tronchetto.
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All rates are per double room per night and include all taxes. Rates are subject to availability
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