To describe Venice as a unique city would be unjust. It has more canals than roads, and pigeons than Trafalgar Square, and a winged lion as a mascot. It is also bursting with beauty, romance and history; probably more so than anywhere in Italy, and that's saying something.
The most unique thing about Venice its composition; the city is the sum of 118 small islands set on a marshy lagoon in Northeast Italy. There aren’t any roads, in the traditional sense; instead travelling around the city is made possible by canals and bridges. The only ways to get around are on foot, by water taxis, gondola ferries, and pricey gondolas, mostly only frequented by tourists.
From a water taxi trip along the canals you’ll see palaces dating back centuries. Including the 9th-century Doge's Palace, once the centre of the Venetian Republic’s government and the official residence of Venetian ruler Doge. It is now one of Venice’s most famous museums. The Palace’s interior is as stunning as its ornate exterior.
Dotted throughout the city you’ll see lots of churches. Next to the Doge's Palace, you’ll find the most visited and renowned, the stunning Byzantine Cathedral Basilica of St Mark. This church has been built three times, the first, in the 9th –century, prior to its destruction by fire in 978. It was consecrated in the 17th-century. There are many striking features at the church, including Romanesque carvings, intricate mosaics, Greek Horses of St Mark, and the winged lion, the city’s symbol.
Both landmarks sit on the St Mark's Square (Piazza de San Marco), one of the city’s main public squares. Here you’ll find throngs of tourists feeding the many pigeons that are guaranteed a feast. There are lots of cafes and shops in and around the square, although they can be pricier than those off the main tourist trail.
San Rocco Church (Scuola of St Rocco), known as the Sistine Chapel of Venice, is another superb place of interest. Take in Tintoretto’s breath-taking ceiling paintings and remarkable wooden carvings. Go early to beat the crowds and take a guide to learn more about its history.
When in Venice, you must experience a journey on the Grand Canal connecting the city’s many islands. It is a great way to see the best of the city and see how it is like to live on water.
Naturally, Venice has many bridges for getting around. The 17th-century Bridge of Sighs is legendary. Sitting over the Rio di Palazzo, this beautiful white limestone bridge connects the New Prison to Doge’s Palace, where prisoners were lead for interrogation, sighing as they had their last look at Venice. Legend has it that if you share a kiss at sunset, when passing underneath on a gondola, you will be granted eternal love!
Explore Venice on foot, away from the tourist trail, and you will navigate through picturesque narrow streets and alleyways, discovering hidden gems and charming squares along the way.