Things to do in Venice
Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world. Nothing exists that is vaguely similar in any other part of the globe; it is a mysterious city, romantic and at the same time, almost elusive. When you arrive, you cross the fine line that connects the land to the mainland and you are immediately catapulted into the Renaissance era.
The complete absence of cars and the fact that one gets around on foot and by ferry boat gives the sensation that you are living in a fairy tale (even more so the closer you get to the famous Carnival). This aspect can make it tiresome at times, especially when the “calli” (the little alleyways in Venetian) overflow with tourists, the ferries are slow and constantly full and perhaps you need to also drag your suitcase behind you. But it’s the price that all tourists willingly pay to see Venice. She can be forgiven for anything!
It is not always easy orientating oneself between the little alleyways of Venice (they are narrow little roads and the GPS doesn’t always work) But the fun of it is getting lost, walking aimlessly, following the beauty of its buildings and its canals. Wandering around you eventually get back to the Grand Canal or alternatively the Giudecca Canal and you’ll soon find your bearings again.
If however you only have a little time on hand and you need to visit Venice in a day, you can always count on a local tour guide who will take you to exactly where you planned to go ensuring you experience unique aspects of the city such as the itinerary of “local bars to the sound of house wine and canapes!”
But what are the most essential things you need to see and do when in Venice?
San Marco Square
if you must choose just one monument in Venice, choose the San Marco Basilica found in the piazza of the same name. This church is an extraordinary combination of both architectural style and decoration: Byzantine art, romantic, gothic and Renaissance come together to create a building of rare beauty.
Her five golden domes recall mosques of Istanbul and it is in a very few places in this world that the Orient has so happily integrated with the Occidental. Do not miss the Pala d’Oro (The Alter Retable) a masterpiece made of gold, silver and enamel created by Costantinopoli for the doge in the X century and enriched with almost 2000 pearls and precious stones over the centuries.
Still within the square you will find the stupefying Ducale Palace which holds the residency of the doge and the various bodies of government of Venice. It is possible to visit the doge’s apartment, the College Hall, the Hall of the Highest Premier where the “Paradiso” painted by Tintoretto really stands out as well as the various prisons. In these last examples, don’t miss out on the Piombi found in the attic where Giacomo Casanova was held prisoner but then escaped. It forms part of the Ducale Palace as well as the famous Bridge of Sighs which connected the palace with the prisons.
Cà Pesaro, Cà Rezzonico, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection and other museums
Every centimetre of Venice is soaked in art and not only with antique and classic art as one might believe. It’s enough to think that each alternating year the Biennial of Art happens in Venice. It is one the most important showcases for contemporary art in the world. Art lovers need to really make a few decisions. Who wants to dedicate themselves to “classical” art the must sees are: the Accademia Gallery (displaying the most vast existing collection of art from the ancient Venetian teachers such as Tiepolo, Tintoretto and Veronese etc..) Cà D’Oro (with its magnificent collection of tapestries and paintings from the XV and XVI centuries) and Cà Rezzonico (with both art and furniture from the XVIII century all displayed in one of the most beautiful palaces of Venice)
Who prefers to dedicate themselves to modern and contemporary art instead cannot miss: Ca Pesaro (currently hosting the International Gallery of Modern Art with works of Klimt, Kandiski, Chagall and many others), Grassi Palace and Punto di Dogana (where the French tycoon and collector, Francois Pinault decided to exhibit his collection of modern art), but most of all the Peggy Guggenheim Collection where the eclectic American, billionaire and art collector came and left an incredible collection of art works created by her favourite modern artists which represent the major part of the artistic movement of the XX century.