Venice. Imagine the audacity of building a city of marble palaces on a lagoon – and that was only the start.
Never was a thoroughfare so aptly named as the Grand Canal, reflecting the glories of Venetian architecture lining its banks. At the end of Venice’s signature waterway, the Palazzo Ducale and Basilica di San Marco add double exclamation points. But what’s hiding in the narrow backstreets? Neighbourhood churches have Veroneses and priceless marbles, Tiepolo’s glimpses of heaven and a single Titian painting that mysteriously lights up an entire basilica.
The local area yields speciality produce and seafood you won’t find elsewhere – all highlighted in inventive Venetian cuisine. The city knows how to put on a royal spread, as France’s King Henry III once found out. Today such feasts are available in miniature at happy hour, when bars mount lavish spreads of ciccheti (Venetian tapas). Save room and time for a proper sit-down Venetian meal, with lagoon seafood to match views at canalside bistros and toasts with Veneto’s signature bubbly, prosecco.
An Artful Lifestyle
Three hours is about enough time for one long gasp at the show-stopper that is Piazza San Marco, but not nearly enough time to see what else Venice is hiding. Stay longer in this fairy-tale city and you’ll discover the pleasures of la bella vita (the beautiful life) that only locals know: the wake-up call of gondoliers, a morning spritz in a sunny campo (square), lunch in a crowded bacaro (bar) with friends and pink sunsets that have sent centuries of artists mad.
Venetians are used to setting trends, whether it be with controversial artwork in the Punta della Dogana, racy operas at La Fenice or radical new art at the Biennale. On a smaller scale, this unconventional creative streak finds vibrant expression in the showrooms of local artisans where you can find custom-made shoes, purses made from velvet and glass jewels. Venice’s originality still stands out.
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