Venice Travel Guide
Introduction to Venice
While the glory days of Venice, a once mighty mercantile empire, remains lodged in the past (only 56,000 residents live here, compared to 20 million tourist visits per year), the beauty of this gem of Renaissance architecture still makes it worth braving the high prices and summer hordes to experience this place. From the excesses of Doge’s Palace, to the romance of its canals, it is a must for any visitor to Italy.
Cultural Experiences in Venice
After soaking in the electric atmosphere that Piazza San Marco has in spades, kick off your tour of Venice by entering Saint Mark’s Basilica. A stunning example of Italo-Byzantine architecture, it was regarded as a symbol of Venetian power in the region when it was constructed in the 11th century.
There are few churches in the world built with the opulence that is on display here, as mosaics crafted with gold leaf, fine marble sculptures and statues, and soaring arches were all created with the intention of impressing the Doge.
The doge was the leader of Venice, who was elected to a lifetime term by the aristocracy that controlled this city state.
Doge’s Palace, which is where this fortunate head of state lived during their reign, was no less impressive than the cathedral that used to be their private chapel.
Boasting a massive courtyard, walls and ceilings covered with ambitious frescoes and paintings, and countless apartments that served as the living quarters of the Doge and their family & friends, this massive abode of the ancient members of the 1% need to be seen in order to believe the degree of wealth that these plutocrats held.
If touring Doge’s Palace has awakened your lust for fine art, partake of more fine masterpieces at the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Housing the best art made before the 19th century in Venice, the best masters of the paintbrush can all be found here, but the one piece you should try to track down is Vitruvian Man.
Being one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous works, which features the frontal multi-perspective nude male model that has graced the cover of countless anatomy textbooks, it is a sight that will put you within eye shot of the best known drawing done by one of the most intelligent individuals in history.
Other Attractions in Venice
One of the most sought after experiences in Venice is to take a gondola ride down one of its many channels. If you choose to do this, your gondolier should take you onto the Grand Canal at some point.
Snaking through the entire city with views of some of the city’s most stunning mansions and palaces, it is a journey that any visitor to Venice will remember for years to come, so don’t balk when you hear the price for a ride (do bargain hard though), as the experience is certainly worth it.
One of Venice’s biggest claims to fame is the quality of its restaurants, with particular mention being paid towards those that specialize in seafood. The chefs from these local institutions get most of their base ingredients from Rialto Market, which has served as this city’s fresh food market for many years.
Fish, octopus, crab and squid are just some of the ocean’s bounty that can be found here, while another portion of the market specializes in the seasonal vegetables that will no doubt be served as a side along with your meal later that night.
There is more to the area than just the city of Venice, as you will find out any one of the many Venetian Lagoon boat tours that are available from local operators.
With numerous additional islands in the Lagoon like enchanting Burano, there is much to see, and knowledgeable guides will have much to teach you about their past history and importance to the region.
We recommend going on a sunset tour, as the magic of golden hour, combined with local wine will make for an evening that might prove to be the highlight of your trip to Venice.