VENICE; A city on the water, gloriously romantic, magical and noble. The city of masks, bridges, gondolas and magnificent 16 th & 17 th century architecture. I have visited this magical place many times and it holds a special place in my heart. I love the style, the people and there are design envy at every corner.
Located in the north of Italy, along the Adriatic coast, it is undoubtedly one of the most unique cities in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year. It is a place of beauty and romance that has however a surprising double life. Divided into crowded places like St Marco square and quiet fondamenta off the beaten track, where you can easily see and experience the Venetian lifestyle. In this mixed neighbourhood, you will find quaint little shops and ateliers devoted to Venetian craftsmanship such as hand blown glass, leather, lace and Jewellery as well as fab little restaurants. Too often , what is shown of this glorious city remains limited to palaces, canals and gondolas. In the 18 th century, over 8 thousand gondoliers navigated the canals , alas nowadays there are only about 400 left.
The Grand canal is the main waterway of Venice,shaped in a squashed S shape, it divides the city in two and while there are indeed many beautiful buildings along its flank and over thethree main bridges namely, The Academia. The Rialto and the Degli Scalzi but be aware that the banks of the grand canal has other surprises which are far too often overlooked, such as Palazzo Maliperro, its rose garden is a little paradise nestled between the buildings, owned by a modern day Contessa and here no details have been left to chance. The Peggy Guggenheim collections housed in the former home of the Marchessa Luisa Cassati. The Palazzo Ducale, built in the Gothic style was initially the residence of the Duke of the time but was later converted in 1923 into a museum . There is also the magnificent dome of Santa Maria della Salute , at the cross road where the Grand Canal meets the Guidecca canal. On Piazza St Marco , the Basilica of St Mark is an imposing structure with Byzantine features completed in 1092 and not forgetting the Clock tower Dell I Orologno. In the square , you will also see the famous Cafe Florian which alas is not so great anymore and frightfully expensive and service is atrocious for Italian standard.
From the square, via XX11Marzo going all the way up to the Academia, you will find most upmarket fashion shops, galleries and trendy Cafes . However, while the city is indeed an aesthetic wonder, it is also so much more and I always found no city more intriguing and irresistible than Venice but for that you must ditch the map and follow your nose, for beyond the touristic hub there are magical places ready to be discovered. All are within walking distance but the Vaporetto is quite inexpensive unlike the water taxis. If you have to take a water taxi , make sure to do so thru your hotel concierge as he will negotiate the price on your behalf.
A humid climate prevails in Venice with July and August being the hottest months. While the city of Venice is lucky to have fishes on its doorstep, the catch is small and seasonal. Also as the city is below sea level, it is prone to flooding every so often, so do check before you book your visit.
Venice is also a great place for bird watching, you can see Comoran and Flamingos resting casually on the wooden pikes across the lagoon. It is one of the largest wetlands of the Mediterranean and there exists an ecosystem as fragile as Murano glass, so much so that the authorities are actively considering a cap on tourists numbers and a ban on visiting giant cruise ships specifically to help preserve the lagoon and the city itself.
And after 500 yrs, the Procarative Vecchie Palace, located on the North side of St Marco square , with its reputed ornate ceilings and frescoes is to reopen to the public after a facelift.
A good reason to return in the very near future !
· Harry’s Bar, San Marco 1323. The signature Bellini is a must
· Take the vaporetto to Burano, pop over the bridge and visit Venissa, a restaurant that serves the most accomplished food you’ll eat in Venice
· La Terrazza at the Danieli Hotel for fine dining.
· Campo S. Angelo to Campo S. Stefano towards the Academia is the trendy hip quarters with lots ofplaces to eat.
· Bar Gabbiano at The Cipriani is a cool place for lunch.
· Scuola Grande dei Carmini in Dorsodura which is decorated with exquisite paintings
· The tower of San Giorgio Maggiore has the most sweeping lookout over the city.
· Murano and discover the Murano glass craftmanship.
· Hotel Danieli . A prestigious hotel interconnecting 3 palazzos, with the oldest dating back to the 14 th century. An open plan lobby with jaw dropping Murano glass chandeliers and ornate marble pillars. The roof top restaurant is a must for food lovers, where Chef Nicola Colacci produces Venetian and International cuisine on the terrace offering stunning views over the lagoon.
· The Cipriani. A firm favourite of celebrities worth their paparazzi as it is located on an island across the lagoon from St Marco Square. This hotel epitomizes cosseted luxury.
· Gritti Palace . The former residence of the Dodge of Venice Andrea Gritti. An opulent old world hotel with sumptious rooms and prime position on the Grand Canal.
· Aman Venice. Formerly known as Palazzo Papadopoli. A true Venetian treasure since 1580 with unsurpassed views over the Grand Canal and original frescoes by Giovanni Battista.