We can’t seem to get enough of Italy around here recently. It was only a week ago that I spent Saturday getting lost (literally) in the streets alleys of Venice. And, if I could plan my ideal weekend right now, it would be sitting along the edge of the port, sun on my face, ice cream in hand, feet dangling over Canale di Fusina. Not a car or bus in sight. But I guess that’s what daydreaming is for.
Piazza San Marco: Don’t be put off by all the tourists (it is one of the most beautiful squares in the world, after all). All signs in Venice lead you to San Marco. And if there are no signs, it’s where you’ll end up anyway, because it’s likely to be where any foreigner walking in front of you is headed. The Basilica di San Marco is the star of this plaza, and I would take some time to admire it. Piazza San Marco.
Palazzo Ducale: Until the end of the 18th century, the Doges ruled the Venetian Empire, and this was where they ruled from. It was the center of justice, government, and law. Between the columns that border the palace, death sentences were ordered (and later executed between the two main pillars in the Piazza San Marco – local Venetians still won’t walk in between them). But nowadays, the Doges Palace is full of art – by Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, to name a few. Piazzetta San Marco 52
Gallerie dell’ Accademia: Cross the Accademia bridge and head for this center of classical Venetian art. From Byzantine and Gothic 14th century to the Renaissance, some of the greatest influences of European art are found here. Campo della Carità, Dorsoduro 1050.
Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Heiress Peggy Guggenheim collected the work of over 200 artists in her home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. The collection is an exemplary showcase of surrealism, futurism, and abstract expressionism including works by Kandinsky, Rothko, Dali, and Jackson Pollock (who was also one of her rumored lovers). Palazzo Venier di Leoni, Dorsoduro 704.
Gelateria Il Doge: This is Venice’s most famous place for gelato, and is especially good if you’re a chocolate-lover. If you’re allergic to, or cutting back on, dairy then Il Doge has soy and rice milk alternatives! Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 3058.
Gelateria Nico: What’s a complete day in Venice without two ice creams? This gelateria is not as famous as Il Doge, but it is just as good and just as packed! It’s also in the Dorsoduro sestiere along boardwalk of the less-grand Canale della Giudecca. Dorsoduro 922.
Caffe Majer: If you’re on a budget, Venice is not the kindest place to you and your pocket. And if you’re allergic to multi-lingual menus that scream “tourist”, then you’re going to have to do some meandering to find cheap, authentic food. Caffe Majer is an Italian chain of bakeries/delis, and is a good, affordable option if you don’t mind skipping the Michelin star meal. Their food looked fresh and healthy, and is perfect to take away and enjoy while sitting along the canal. Santa Croce 287/A, Piazzale Roma & various locations.
Pescaria & Erberie: You can’t find fresher food that what’s on display in the Rialto Markets. And while you might not be buying any fish, it’s still impressive to walk through and watch the Italian fish mongers yelling at each other. If you’re there on a Saturday (and don’t mind waiting in a long queue), Al Muro sets up a stall in the middle of the nearby square and serves a heaping plate of fish fry, plus a glass of wine – all for 7€. Mercato di Rialto.
Al Nono Risorto: The locals come here for one thing: good pizza. With a convivial, lively atmosphere, set in an outdoor courtyard, this is a fun, relaxed place for authentic Italian food. Santa Croce 2338, Sotoportego de Siora Bettina.
El Refolo: a true bacaro (a small local bar, hidden from you and known well by the Venetians), serving delicious, 2.50€ wine and an array of cicchetti (bar snacks or tapas for the rest of us). Via Garibaldi – Castello 1580.
Wander: As contradictory as this may sound, sometimes having a list of things to see and do can limit your travel experience. Sometimes the best way to see and experience every aspect of a city is to wander the alleyways and get lost. At least you know every corner you turn will always have something beautiful waiting there.
Grand Canale: Take a vaporetto to get the best view from the water. The bridges give a great snapshot, but to see all those palaces that lie along the waterfront, the 7€ water-bus ticket is a small price to pay (compared to the 100€ gondola).
La Giudecca: You can get to this island by boat or bridge, and if you have the time, it’s worth taking a walk through the old Jewish quarter, also known as Il Ghetto. The best part is the change of perspective, and seeing San Marco from the other side.
Cross Bridges: Literally. Leave no bridge uncrossed. Ponte Rialto is the most famous one, but also the most populated. My favorite were the little, wrought-iron ones crammed in between rows of rust-colored houses. Venice is truly unique: in what other city can you cross the street by bridge?