Venerable Venice – a must visit in Italy
Everyone must visit Venice Italy in their lifetime, while exploring the Italian coast or before embarking on an Adriatic cruise. This amazing aqueduct city has inspired artists and musicians for centuries, see our Venice Photo Tour Gallery for evidence of inspiration.
Venice is in northeastern Italy, above the captivating city of Florence and before the wine region of Soave. Venice is actually comprised of 118 small islands connected by canals and bridges. The marshy Venetian Lagoon lies between the Po and the Piave Rivers. Architecturally, Venice is like no other, a floating city and a “city of canals” at every turn – with tight walkways lined with towering stone buildings – it is a marvel to explore. It’s also incredibly confusing as each alley way starts to look the same and only leads to another canal and beautifully carved stone bridge.
A boat ride in a Vaporetta up Venice’s Grand Canal is a grand entry. You quickly recognize the magnificent buildings – more like boat houses – seem suspended on the sea, no green lawn or grass land. The entire island is constructed on wooden piles, still original, after centuries of sea exposure. The grand brick palaces and heavy stone church foundations rest on pilings, supported only by sand and mud and clay. Amazing that the wood has not decayed and the entire Venice collapsed, but the piles were made from alder tree trunks and the sea has preserved them. Efforts to preserve Venice’s engineered piles, and to clean up the water are apparent. Venice does still flood, as evidenced by the rain boots sold in shops and the watermarks throughout the city.
Strolling Venice’s complicated canal streets, it’s okay to get lost- its expected and recommended. The beauty of Venice is best enjoyed by flowing with the stone walkways along the water, discovering quiet cafes and the grand squares, enjoying Italian cappuccino at a café on a canalway, admiring Venetian masks, gold and handmade lace in boutiques.
You must visit San Marco’s Piazza and Church. The massive St Mark’s Square is a carnival of tour groups, tourists, cart sales and colors by day and extraordinary large and looming at night with St Mark’s Basilica as its grand focal point.
For the best view, take the early morning elevator ride to the top of The Campanile, this is St Mark’s Square bell-tower, by St Mark’s church (not for those who fear heights however).
The Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs, is another must stop to see the wealth and fascination with art and music of the aristocracy of Venice. On the flip side, imagine the last view of the sea and sunlight for prisoners in medieval and renaissance times as they passed over the Bridge of Sighs to their imprisonment.
In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Venice was a hub for the Crusades and a key commerce center given its sea ways. From the 13-17th century, Venice thrived on trading of silk, grain, and spice. Venice’s art scene therefore flourished with opera (home of Vivaldi) and symphony and fine art. You sense the history and wealth as you explore Venice’s narrow winding walkways and see the extravagant detail on doorways, bridges and storefronts.
Rialto Market is amazing, a lively outdoor Italian market where locals sell their wares, fresh fish – with heads and tails and tentacles attached. Beautiful vegetable and flowers line the Rialto Square along with sunglasses, hats, jewelry, leather bags and masks from cart vendors.
The Rialto Bride is a photographer’s dream, where many lovers have proclaimed their passions… Venice is romantic and notably more so at night when day visitors and cruise ship passengers have left the lovely streets more calm and quiet. We enjoyed dining out at an alfresco café, sharing a carafe of local wine, grissini (surprisingly hard bread), panino and fish soup (paella), and risotto. After dinner, a gelato as you roam the riverfront streets is the perfect conclusion.
We recommend you visit Venice for just a few days, this classic canal enclave is amazing on your first visit, the centuries’ old architecture and beautiful little boutiques selling art, Venetian lace and masks are magical at first pass. But after two sweltering summer days navigating through the throngs of tourists, each mask shops begins to blur with the previous one, and you will be ready to navigate your way to other more intimate parts of Italy like Cinque Terre– the Italian Riviera, or out to sea aboard Azamara for an Adriatic cruise.
Venice is a major cruise ship port given its location on the Adriatic Sea, in fact another nickname for Venice is the “Queen of the Adriatic”, in addition to the “City of Water”, the “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals.” See A Photo Tour of Venice Italy.
See more of our Italian Travel Reviews and Photos:
Cinque Terre Italy
Monterosso in the Cinque Terre
Touring Venice Italy
A Photo Tour of Venice Italy
Cruise the Adriatic aboard Azamara
Adriatic Cruise Photo Tours