Venice Day 1
So now you are on your way to the floating city of Venice. It is like no other city on earth. We never tire of Venice; it is a pleasure just to be there. When you arrive at the train station catch a water taxi to your hotel. Again Venere is an excellent site from which to select your hotel. We like to stay a reasonable walking distance to the Piazza San Marco – the Hotel Danieli and the Gritti Palace are two of our favorites. With only two days, this is definitely the area where you will want to stay. Focus your first day on San Marco. Here you will find one of the greatest buildings in all of Europe, the Basilica di San Marco. This is a delicious blend of East and West in architectural and decorative styles. The Doge’s Palace is next to the basilica and is a Gothic masterpiece. It takes a great deal of time to go through the palace, so if time is short opt instead for the two hour private tour of St. Mark’s square, the basilica and the Doge’s Palace; this will allow you to skip the long lines and see all the highlights with an expert tour guide in the least amount of time. Across from the Palace is the Campanile; go up to the top for an expansive view over the rooftops of Venice.
After the view, it’s lunch on the Grand Canal. We like the lunch at either the Gritti Palace or the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal dining areas on the water. Both do a pricey but excellently prepared lunch with a canal side view to watch the picturesque gondolas floating down the Canal.
After lunch you could book a Grand Canal Boat Tour. The tour will give you a detailed narration of the architecture, history and famous residents of the Grand canal, along with a great seat for pictures. But if just seeing it is enough for you, just go to the waterbus stop at San Marco and take the number 1 Vaporetto (as the waterbus is called) for a DIY cruise down the Grand Canal. Try for seats on the back open-air area of the boat; it’s best for sightseeing. Get ready to ooh and ahh your way past stunning architecture, rich in color and design. Do a round trip and you will be back at San Marco. This is a great sightseeing tour for very little cost. Now venture off the square in any direction and meander. Be sure to take your camera, a dream shot is just around every corner. As evening draws near head for the Hotel Danieli’s rooftop cafe for a Bellini as you look out over one of the best view’s of Venice. You’ve heard about it, now you have to try it, head to Harry’s Bar for dinner. If you like risotto, theirs is excellent. And we’ve found that any place frequented by Hemingway is usually good. Another good alternative near by is Antico Martini, overlooking the Fenice Theatre. After dinner it’s back to Piazza San Marco for an after dinner drink or coffee at the famous Florian’s Cafe where you will be entertained by a lovely little orchestra while you sip your drinks under the stars.
Venice Day 2
On day two, you have some options. Take a morning stroll to the Rialto Bridge, a scenic spot and a fun place to shop. Just follow the Rialto Bridge signs from San Marco. Venice is well marked for walking. There are also some welcoming sidewalk cafes along the Grand Canal leading up to the Rialto Bridge for coffee and lunch. If you are ready for a different side of Venice head back to the other side of San Marco to the vaporetto stop San Zaccaria and take the number 14 bus to the island of Burano. Burano is the most colorful island of the lagoon islands. It’s a place where you can see fishermen mending their nets, lace makers in action at the Sucola dei Merletti school, and everyday activities like moving by boat. The restaurants on the main square, Piazza Galuppi are just the place for that leisurely Italian lunch of fresh fish and pasta. This island truly reflects everyday Venetian life.
After lunch, it’s back to San Marco. If you are into art, the Museo Correr on the Piazza San Marco and the Academia, a short way down the Grand Canal, are excellent choices. Those most interested in modern art should not miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection also on the Grand Canal near the Accademia. Every church in Venice has outstanding art and architecture so stop in if one interests you. If you love the Venetian glass you can also go to the island of Murano and see where it is made. (Take the number 41 or 42 waterbus from San Zaccaria station.) And, of course, there is shopping. This is one of the few places on earth where there are some very unique finds that you will not see everywhere else in Europe. The Venetian Glass is exquisite and beautifully displayed, custom made jewellery shops abound with one of a kind pieces, the lovely Venetian masks used for Carnivale are always available along with miniature custom made libraries for your table or wall and architectural pieces reflecting the architecture of Venice. If you want a lasting memory of this magical place, walk a short distance from San Marco to any of the little boutique art galleries specializing in high quality original art of Venice and the Veneto, find your favorite scene and ship it back to the US. When you receive it on your return, you will smile and remember those special days in Venice. PS. The miniature libraries are especially unique and come in a variety of sizes.
And just as Rome had places left to see, you know there is more to discover in Venice on that next trip over.