5 Great Things to do in Venice

5 great things to do in Venice



1. See three major sights in one square

Standing in the middle of the magnificent piazza San Marco is an experience in itself: Napoleon referred to it as the ‘drawing room of Europe’, apt today as, at times, it appears that much of Europe’s population is crammed into this great square. But it’s St Mark’s basilica (Basilica di San Marco), often seen as the living testimony of Venice’s links with Byzantium; Doge’s Palace, once Venice’s political and judicial hub; and Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built between 1496 and 1506, that are, not just the square’s, but some of the city’s main attractions.



2. Get around in a gondola

No trip to Venice would be complete without a punt down one of the city’s picturesque waterways in an iconic gondola. The Istituzione per la Conservazione della Gondola e Tutela del Gondoliere (Gondola Board; 041 528 5075, www.gondolavenezia.it) website has recommended itineraries.

Prices below are for the hire of the gondola, for six passengers or less. Having your own personal crooner will push the fare up.
8am-7pm €80 for 30 mins. 7pm-8am €100 for 35 mins.

3. Tour the Venetian masters of art

Venice is a unique and precious repository of art. From the late Middle Ages until the mid 18th century, artists of the highest caliber left their mark all over the city and works by Venice’s grand masters Titian (c1488-1576), Tintoretto (c1518-94), Canaletto (1697-1768) and Tiepolo (1727-1804) can still be viewed in situ today. See Titian’s glorious ‘Assumption’ above the high altar at I Frari, Tintoretto’s epic masterpiece ‘Crucifixion’ at Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and Tiepolo’s monumental frescos at the Pietà and Ca’ Rezzonico.


4. Drink like a Venetian – and go on a secret wine tour

To the usual Italian breakfast, light snacks, pastries and alcoholic beverages routine, Venice contributes its own specialities: the ombra and the spritz. The former is a tiny glass of wine – bianco or rosso – which is knocked back in no time and is often the whole point of a giro di ombre – an ombra-crawl around selected bacari (the accent is on the first ‘a’). A spritz is an aperitivo of white wine, Campari and a shot of seltzer or sparkling water; a sweeter version is made with low-alcohol Aperol. Also flowing freely into Venetian glasses are prosecco, the bubbly white made in the hills of the Veneto region, and spento, a bubble-free version of the same wine.
And for true Venetian oenophile immersion, discover the wine cellars that only the locals know about – together with a healthy dose of chicchetti (Venice’s version of tapas) – on a covert wine tour of Venice with worldwide city-tour specialists Urban Adventures.

5. Get a bird’s-eye view of Venice

At almost 99m (325ft), the Campanile is the city’s tallest building, originally built between 888 and 912 (in July 1902 it collapsed, imploding in a neat pyramid of rubble. It was rebuilt exactly ‘as it was, where it was’, as the town council of the day promised). Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III rode a horse to the top of the original in 1451; these days visitors take the lift. The view is superb, taking in the Lido, the whole lagoon and (on a clear day) the Dolomites in the distance.



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