Year after year, Venice attracts millions of tourists from all around the world. Some of these visitors simply seek relaxation, others travel to Venice in search of unparalleled culture and heritage.
After all, Venice, the pearl of the Adriatic, being a city of distinctive contrasts, is a place where hundreds of emerald-coloured canals live in perfect harmony with fascinating architecture.
Both mysterious and charming, Venice has been defined by numerous writers and artists like the most beautiful city that human eyes have ever seen. As Peggy Guggenheim said: “One’s eyes can never rest. There is at every point some fascinating surprise”.
Venice is definitively a city that defies the passing of time. There are no cars and the city really seems trapped in time. And the crumbling facades house charming interior halls often embellished with stucco works and frescoes.
Visitors are invited to stroll around and wander aimlessly through the historical centre to come across many authentic treasures. First of all, at the heart of Venice is Saint Mark’s Square where you find Saint Mark’s basilica, a truly impressive cathedral, called the golden one because of its splendid mosaics. East and west are joined in this byzantine temple: don’t miss out!
Next door is the Doge’s Palace, the two gigantic columns and the admirable perspective of the lagoon, complete the wonderful beauty of this part of Venice.
Don’t forget to have a look at the Clock Tower, whose mechanism was considered a prodigy. The large face of the clock on the facade, beside showing the time, indicates the phases of the moon and the movements of the sun in relation to the sign of the Zodiac. On the very top of the clock tower is a bell with two huge bronze Moors that strike the hours.
Now it’s time for a coffee: do you know that the first “bottega del caffè” was opened here under the Procuratie in 1638? Fifty years after, the city had several cafés. Nowadays only three of these famous coffee-houses survive: the Florian (1720), the Quadri (1775) and the Gran Caffè Lavena (1750) where the composer Richard Wagner always used to go.
After visiting Saint Mark’s Square, go towards Rialto. There are over the 400 bridges connecting the 118 islands forming Venice. The most famous and imposing, with good reason, is the Rialto bridge. It spans the Grand Canal, our proper “avenue”. For a stretch of about four and a half miles the Grand Canal has a sinuous “S” shape and it is called the most beautiful “street” in the world. You can never be tired of sailing this canal looking at the marvelous palaces that create magical reflections in the water. I cannot help but borrow Lord Byron’s words about Venice: “I saw from out the wave her structures rise as from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand”.
Now it’s time to get lost in the maze of narrow alleys, which is not that difficult: the chances are nine to ten that you will walk straight into some canal… Maybe you think that Venetians, due to the topographic complications, make fun of you when they give you directions telling “sempre dritto” (to “walk straight on”), but this has a particular meaning: follow the busiest streets. Remember, straight lines in Venice may be also curved!
After wandering through the Venetian labyrinth, meeting innumerable hidden surprises, it is time to rest in a little square. An excellent way to become familiar with the Venetian lifestyle is to slow down and sip a spritz in one of the many famous “bacari” (local pubs). Salute!
So, let’s plan a visit: Venice is a destination that is perfect for all.