Veniceis made up of 118 small islands that are separated by canals. A city which offers a unique experience, is steeped in history, has swish beaches and amazing food not to mention the wine, oh the wine. There are two things you must never be afraid of in Venice; the first is getting lost – it happens all of the time and the second is seeing the same things twice – it comes hand in hand with getting lost. Map reading goes out of the window in the world that is half submerged in water.
Venice was not as expensive as we first feared but at the same time, just walking into a restaurant without previous research in the ‘centre’ leads to a bill mounting up beyond belief. The bottom line with any city break is to do your homework.
We wouldn’t say Venice is the ultimate shopping destination, but if you have the plastic to flash there are well known designer labels and small boutique stores, with Castello and San Marco housing the most expensive shops of the city. There are also plenty of goods at the San Marco market, everyone loves a market.
If art is your cup of vino, you will love how easy it is to just stumble upon gallery after gallery, browse and admire. Whilst the Nana in you could while away the afternoon pricing up the porcelain masks and glass ornaments.
The centre of the Grand Canal seems like the most touristy part of the city but this is where you can jump on a gondola, not too quickly mind, and get a tour around the city. If you’re on a budget the water taxis are a cheaper option but they can be crammed in peak times as they are the equivalent of the tube in London.
San Marco Square is the heart of Venice, where you will find the famous Basilica of San Marco. The Rialto bridge and Rialto market are also worth browsing and in Salute the Santa Maria della Salute is very beautiful. Once your bored of churches and architecture head to the Lido and chill at the pristine beaches.
|Cannaregio 40 Ladroni|
For a real Venetian experience follow the locals to Osteria ai 4 Feri Dorsoduro, Calle Lunga, Campo S. Barnaba in the Dorsoduro region of the city. There is no English menu and you need to book as it gets full every night – you may even end up sharing a table. The place is simple but homely, the menu features just a couple of dishes but all are fresh and full of flavour.
Over in Rialto tucked down an alley you will find All’ Arco which serves some of the best cicchetti in the city, wash down with a spritz and you are laughing. Slightly further out in Cannaregio 40 Ladroni serves great pasta and fish dishes in a pretty garden area.
Pizza ‘shacks’ can be found all over, they will present themselves in all forms, a simple hole in the wall, a van with a counter, a walk in shop, but there is one thing in common, the pizza is mostly tremendous.
Harry’s Bar is apparently the birthplace of the bellini although we didn’t make it there. We opted for a cocktail in our hotel, the Centurion Palace which has a balcony on the grande canal and is ideal for sipping prosseco whilst watching boats pass.
For a taste of local living head to Campo Di Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro which really comes alive when the night falls. There are plenty of bars and pubs here and all are pretty reliable. Whilst in Cannaregio Al Timon is where the locals hang, if you can’t get a seat on the side walk hop on their boat outside and sip vino as it gently rocks with the water.
Walking will only get you so far in Venice, sooner or later you will have jump on a boat. These vary from private gondolas, to river taxis and public riverboats. The big ferry riverboats are the main public transport system and offer a great and cheap way to get from one end of Venice to the other. If you are taking more than one journey it’s worth buying a travel card.