Venice is one of those awe-inspiring travel destinations that will simply take your breath away. With its iconic canals that lace the city and myriad historic buildings that seem to float on water, Venice is a travel gem that's in a league of its own. Experiencing this enchanting cityscape is like being transported into another world, one whose unparalleled charm and dreamy atmosphere remain incomparable.
Situated in the Veneto region of Italy, Venice is comprised of a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and joined by bridges. Steeped in history, Venice was formerly a bustling trading nexus between Europe and Asia. This ancient city's rich history has resulted in a mesmerizing blend of Byzantine, Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic architectural styles. From the Piazza San Marco to the Grand Canal, there are so many avenues of priceless art and historic heritage to explore here.
Since Venice is one of Italy's most highly sought-out travel destinations, it is important to make reservations for everything in advance and get confirmations. Cars are banned in Venice, and every method of transportation floats—from water taxis and public bus "vaporetti" boat ferries to gondolas. For this reason, it's a good idea to stay somewhere centrally located so you can get around easily.
Another tip is to pack extremely comfortable footwear. And if you're traveling with kids, limit the time spent in museums and opt instead for lots of walking around and variety. Ultimately, you want to leave time for some food and wine exploration, lots of coffee stops, and—of course—a little serendipity.
From the Venice Airport Marco Polo, we splurged for a private water taxi to our hotel, which made for a gloriously mind-blowing arrival into the city. The visual splendor captures your imagination the second you get there.
For an easy introduction to the city, I booked Tripadvisor's "Venice in a Day: Basilica San Marco, Doges Palace, and Gondola Ride Guided Tour," which not only ended up being time-efficient but also more cost-efficient than trying to visit these sights separately. It was important to us to get the tickets in advance because we didn't want to spend our trip waiting in two-hour-long lines. Moreover, it was a true holiday to just streamline all the navigation and itinerary details through another agency.
During our guided tour, we spent a few hours exploring Piazza San Marco, one of Venice's most cherished tourist attractions. This central square is home to Basilica di San Marco, a cathedral that houses and honors the remains of St. Mark. The church is built beside Doge's Palace, a stunning Gothic palace that was once the official residence of the doges and the seat of the Venetian government. Another famous landmark near Piazza San Marco is the Bridge of Sighs, or "Ponte dei Sospiri." This Baroque-style bridge was named for the sighs of the prisoners who passed over it. And taking a gondola ride is also a must-do.
Another highlight was spending a day exploring the nearby islands of Murano and Burano on a splendid small boat tour I booked on Tripadvisor. We enjoyed shopping for souvenirs and learning more about the local artisan traditions of Murano glassblowing and Burano lacework. I especially loved seeing Burano's brightly colored houses—a veritable paradise for photographers—and the epitome of Italian charm. Legend has it that the local fishermen used vibrant facades to be able to designate where one home ends and another begins.
For some culinary delights, I booked the "Eat Like a Local" food-tasting walking tour on Tripadvisor. One of my favorite activities anywhere is a walking food tour, and this did not disappoint since we got to see nooks and crannies of Venice we would never have seen otherwise. We savored a bountiful array of regional cuisine, including "cicchetti"—Venetian tapas—gelato, seafood, and wine. Craving more local flavors, we headed to Ristorante Al Buso. Perched right under the Rialto Bridge, this restaurant offers superb views for a light afternoon lunch. We had so much fun watching all the hustle and bustle of everyone arriving into the city and taking selfies underneath the Rialto Bridge. We also ate dinner one night at the Trattoria Povoledo Venezia, which was another perfect place to enjoy our food and sit by the water.
When You GoWe stayed at the Hotel Antiche Figure, a modest hotel conveniently located right on the water by the Grand Canal with phenomenal views and ease of access: HotelAnticheFigure.it.
(SET IMAGE) tad111823adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) The side canals have an allure that can only be found in Venice, Italy. Photo courtesy of Margot Black. (END CAPTION) (SET IMAGE2) tad111823bdAP.jpg (END IMAGE2) (SET CAPTION2) A gondola ride on the Grand Canal is a must for any first-time visitor to Venice, Italy. Photo courtesy of Margot Black. (END CAPTION2) (SET IMAGE3) tad111823cdAP.jpg (END IMAGE3) (SET CAPTION3) The Ponte dei Sospiri, or Bridge of Sighs, is so named because convicted criminals walked across it from the Doge's Palace to the prison in Venice, Italy. Photo courtesy of Margot Black. Photo courtesy of Margot Black. (END CAPTION3) Margot Black is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS.COM