Discovering Venice is a unique, singular and even intimate experience.
We like to wander and get lost in this beautiful maze. Still, the most famous of these Venetian wanders is also, perhaps, the most memorable.
Like every maze, this one in Venice is full of secrets, hidden paths and forgotten wonders. All those places could be easily missed if that wasn’t for a guide and his craft.
The gondola ride is a magical journey finding its way in the most beautiful places of the City of Love, where only a true gondolier could take you.
His singing voice joins the soft slapping sound of water while the boat is slowly moving.
©Rainer Lesniewski ©Anton Yanchevskyi
1. Saint Mark's Square
Unique square of Venice (coined piazza while the others are merely campos), St Mark’s Square is “the drawing room of Europe”, according to Napoléon Bonaparte. Although the monuments flanking the square – St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace and the Campanile – are equally marvellous, the square itself deserves everyone’s interest.
Once the economic and political centre of the Venetian Republic, it has now become a major historical and architectural attraction. From the Campanile, the breathtaking view is grandiose. From the Doge’s Palace, the wealth and the variety of the ornaments blissfully lead visitors into a sweet reverie. Even at night, the square lights up and changes completely, revealing its final form. The day moves on and gives space to serenity and contemplation. The violins of the Caffè Florian start their sweet symphonies and make the travellers fall for a profound melancholia.
2. Doges' Palace
Unbelievable refinement and incredible cultural wealth are words to describe the sculptures, murals and paintings of the Doge’s Palace of Venice. A tour of the monument offers a rare opportunity to immerge oneself into the political heart of the Republic. Many hours could be spent within these golden walls, just to discover a few of its secrets. Some guided tours thus offer to expose some of the hidden truths the palace is full of. On the way out, one must walk past the numerous cells and the Bridge of Sighs to see through the stone bars of the windows, just like the convicts used to back then…
A tour of the Palazzo Ducale represents a amazing opportunity to marvel at the greatest works of Venetian art whilst learning about the deepest secrets, conspiracies and political manoeuvres of Serene Venice.
3. Rialto Bridge
In Venice, only four bridges cross the Grand Canal. For this reason, each one of them could be looked at individually. However, if one and one only shall be remembered, it is the Rialto.
The Rialto Bridge is indeed the most ancient and most famous of them all. It has become one of the most visited monuments in the city and is a common stop for every city tour. Completed in 1591, it has been pedestrian ever since. Shops from various famous brands can also be found under its arches.
Most of the time, photographs of the Rialto Bridge are being taken with the landing piers aside and the moving gondolas.
4. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is one of the biggest and most ancient curiosities of Venice.
High above the sea, it was used to connect the interrogation rooms with the cells from the Doge’s Palace. Its name suggests that prisoners would sigh at the final sight of their families gathered below their windows, before being taken to the place of execution.
Nowadays, the Bridge of Sighs has become a major attraction for the tourists.
Its situation, its outward appearance and its proximity with the Doge’s Palace and St Mark’s Square make it really popular.
Baroque in style, it is the only covered bridge in the city and can be observed from its both sides. Many gondolas pass frequently under the bridge, always offering you a chance to get the perfect picture.
Most of the time, a stay in Venice involves a visit of its lagoon. Besides the 118 islands the city is composed of, tens of others can be visited in the surroundings. All of these are accessible by vaporetto, this public transport on water, but some islands do remain essential for any Venetian tour.
Murano is certainly the most famous island of the Venetian lagoon, in particular for the quality of its glasswork. During the 18th century, the glassmakers had to move their factories on the island due to a series of devastating fires. The quality of their work hence gained reputation and whole Europe eventually came in Murano for its glass. Nowadays, we still count more than 100 glassmakers and many of them are willing to share their work with the visitors. Another aspect of the island that might also catch happy visitors’ attention: its magnificent scented gardens.
Burano, a small fishing village, is celebrated for its lacework instead. Bridges, canals and lavish architecture can also be found there. Burano’s houses were once painted in bright colours to operate as a landmark for the lost fishermen. Even today, those vibrant colors still offer a superb scenery, like an invitation into a fairytale. The Museum of Lacework is one last important stop-off in this journey considering how deep this handcraft is rooted in the tradition of this island.