There is nowhere like Venice!

Terms such as ‘unique’, ‘iconic’ and ‘unforgettable’ could be used to describe a lot of places around the world, but none so more than Venice. There is simply nowhere else like it. The history of people living on the islands of the lagoon go back to 400AD, and narrates a place of riches built up from trade between East and West that created palaces, cathedrals and bridges that take your breath away.

Arriving by train at Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia, you will emerge from the station to see your first view of the grand canal and of the buildings rising from its waters, and the crowds! The temptation is to start taking photos straight away, such is the excitement of being there, but if you can wait just a while, until you are on one of the many water buses or taxis that will take you further into Venice, you will not be disappointed. At every turn of the canal more and more stunning buildings will appear, ornate bridges and beautiful frescos on even the most humble of facades.

By air it is a short 2 hour flight from London to Marco Polo airport. From there you can take a water bus or taxi directly to the city. Many of the exclusive hotels have their own speed boats and will collect you and take you directly to your hotel. This journey is an exhilarating experience in itself. The famous skyline of Venice can be seen very soon after leaving the airport and grow before your eyes as you speed across the lagoon.

The city of Venice is the capital and the administrative centre of the Veneto region of Italy. It is made up of 118 small islands linked by 400 bridges located in a shallow lagoon between the Po and the Piave rivers. As well as the main city of Venice there are other islands worth a visit. The Island of Murano on the northern shore of Venice is known globally for its glass making techniques. Picturesque Burano is known for its brightly coloured fishermen’s houses, its casual eateries serving seafood from the lagoon and for lace making.
So what are the main things to see and do while you are in Venice? However many times you visit there will always be something new, but if you are visiting for the first time here are some of the musts.

The Doge Palace

Venice was once an independent state, and some would like it to be again! The Doge’s Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style. It was originally the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic. Founded in 1340, it was extended and modified during the height of the growing wealth of the city and the opulence is breath taking. Next door is the old court and prison, connected by the famous ‘bridge of sighs’. When a person was convicted and sent to the place of execution, the view from this bridge’s windows was said to be the last time they would see the outside world. And the view was one of the most beautiful in Venice, so it is no wonder that they sighed! A visit to the palace and prison costs around 30 Euros and it’s best to buy a ticket ahead to avoid the inevitable long queues. Leave yourself plenty time, this is not something to be rushed.

St Mark’s Basilica

The first St. Mark’s Basilica was built on this spot in the 9th century to house the sacred relics of the body of St Mark the Evangelist, one of the four Apostles. These had been stolen in 828 by merchants from Venice from Alexandria, Egypt. The entire story is pictured on the 13th-century mosaic above the left door as you enter the basilica. There is a huge amount of treasure in the Basilica, much of which was brought to Venice during the Crusades. This includes the lavishly ornate Pala d’Oro, a Byzantine altar screen of gold, studded with hundreds of gems including 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, plus rubies and topazes. A visit to the basilica costs around 30 Euros.

The square in front of the cathedral (Procuratie Nuove of Piazza San Marco ) is famous in its own right, not only for flooding occasionally but also because of the clock tower and the cafes that abound around the perimeter of the square, many of which boast small orchestras to entertain their customers. The most famous is Caffè Florian. It was established in 1720, and is the oldest coffee house in continuous operation in Italy, and the oldest in the world. But beware, before you sit down to order a coffee, glass of wine or ice cream and enjoy the music, you can pay a lot for the privilege! Check the menu first, and then if you feel it’s within your budget you will enjoy a magical experience you won’t forget for a long time. Of course everything is expensive in Venice, especially in the tourist haunts, so make sure you have taken this into account when working out your budget.

The Jewish quarter

This is an area of Venice that is very different to the grand buildings and palaces that line the grand canal and steeped in a very different and darker history. The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live by the government of the Venetian Republic and the word ghetto is derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice. It was instituted in 1516 when Venice had 160,000 inhabitants, including 900 Jews, who were mainly merchants.

There are a number of different ways in which to visit this wonderful place. If it’s luxury you want then a long weekend staying at one of Venice’s best hotels such as the Gritti Palace, with your own private water taxi whisking you direct from the airport to the orate door of your hotel, would be the ultimate VIP experience. We know the best Venice has to offer and the managers and concierges who will ensure that you are well looked after. But Venice can also be a perfect short stay or day trip as part of a broader tour of this region of Italy. Ask us about a trip that includes Verona, Padua and Venice and steep yourself in culture, history and images straight out of Shakespeare’s plays. However you do it, if Venice isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. Call us today and start planning your visit, and you’ll see why!

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