Venice is a city of floating visions and faded splendor, a place where romance lurks around every corner.
When arriving by taxi boat from the airport, one’s first glimpse of Venice is of renaissance spires and domed churches rising from the sea. Taking in the mirage of towers and palazzos where there should be none is an indescribable thrill, one unique to this watery world of reflections.
Venice is situated on a collection of small islands cast across a vast lagoon in the northern reaches of the Adriatic Sea. The jade green water of the lagoon is protected from the sea by the stretch of sand called the Lido where Lord Byron raced on horseback with Percy Shelley. Waterways and canals crisscross the town and transport is limited to boats and foot traffic. Be prepared to arrive by boat to your hotel and walk a thousand miles a day.
Artists and dilettantes have been coming here for ages, quite literally, and have left a rich cultural legacy. The museums are brimming with world-class master pieces, glorious palazzos house private collections, musical and theatrical performances abound.
Besides talking to the pigeons in the Piazza San Marco and gawking at it’s gilt cathedral, one of my top recommendation is going to the top of the Campanile. This provides a view of Venice, the lagoon, it’s many islands and even the snow-capped Alps surprisingly close at hand. Afterwards, get cozy with a cannelloni and cappuccino at Florian’s Caffe in Piazza San Marco. It’s a centuries old hangout as familiar to Casanova in the 18th century as it is to todays’ coffee cult.
But the best thing to do in Venice is to wander aimlessly in the tangle of tiny streets and see where they take you. Submit your afternoon to the enchantment of light flickering across the surface of the canal and allow yourself a daydream glittering with courtesans and poets.
When to go
Be forewarned, Venice is very popular. The summer crowds can be daunting, prices are markedly higher, and every café and restaurant is overwhelmed. I recommend going in November when you can have truly magical alone time with this unique destination. The light is soft and grey and you can experience the remarkable super-high tides, which can submerge half the town.
What puts a distinctly ephemeral spin to this vibrancy is that all of it is sinking slowly into the sea. As morbid as it sounds, the effect is quite the opposite. An infectious devil-may-care ambiance pervades the place. It’s as if the crumbling grand facades whisper that all of man’s great works and pleasures are fleeting, so why not carpe diem and indulge a little?
As far as indulgences go, there are many. From deluxe hotels to culinary delights, high-end Italian fashion to decadent gondola rides you will be tempted on many levels.
Travellur knows the best of these temptations and wants to share them with you. But not everybody has the same tastes, and there are too many to describe here. If you’re thinking of visiting, feel free to contact us for a free consultation and at least get an idea of what you want to explore.
I have a passion for palazzo museums where you can get a glimpse of aristocratic opulence and imagine the decadent lives lived there. The most impressive one is the Ca’ Rezzonico where in the 1880s, it became the home of the painter Robert Barrett Browning, whose father Robert Browning, the poet, died in his apartment on the mezzanine floor in 1889. At this time, the American portrait painter John Singer Sargent also had a studio in the palazzo. The palazzo was completed in the mid 1700’s by the greatest Italian architect of the period, Georgio Massari and coincided with the pinnacle of the Rezzonico's power when Carlo Rezzonico, was elected Pope. The same year Ludovico Rezzonico married Faustina Savorgnan, uniting the two richest families in Venice. To mark that occasion, the most celebrated painter of Venice, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, was commissioned to paint the ceilings of two salons.
WHERE TO STAY
If you want an authentic Venetian indulgence, stay at a palazzo hotel. The city is full of them, at a range of prices, some better than others. My absolute favorite is the Gritti Palace Hotel, the ancestoral home of the Gritti family and today a luxury hotel right on the Grand Canal. With unsurpassed grand suites overlooking the canal and impeccable service, The Gritti is a legend unto itself and the breakfast buffet alone is well worth the splurge. Other lux choices include the Danieli and the Venart, both vetted by Travellur. If rented rooms is more your style, try the Cima Rosa Apartments, well located and hosted. For off the beaten path affordability, the Hotel Flora is a hidden gem with charm and comfort.
WE GOT THIS
Travellur has special deals at the Gritti, Danieli and the Venart, and better rates at most other properties. Plus, we know which area is best and best to avoid, how to get there and get around. Don’t get lost in a bad way. Get restaurant recommendations, travel tips and piece of mind when you book a trip with Travellur. Click here for a free consultation for your Venice escape.