Lovers of art, lovers of history and, well, lovers in general, all flock to the Floating City. For first-timers, there is simply nothing that prepares you for your first glimpse. Its graceful maze of buildings rise up out of the water as the spray from boats glints in the sunshine. From our prized perch on Giudecca island, Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, is an icon among icons.
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Welcome to the secret pearl of Venice. Take a five-minute launch across the lagoon from iconic St Mark’s Square and you’ll find this slender stretch of eight interconnected islets. Once a fishing village in 500 AD, Giudecca welcomed grand, palatial homes and gardens in the 19th century. It is eclectic, romantic and unique, and for this reason the island has become a haven for artists.
Purportedly described by Napoleon as “the drawing room of Europe”, this famed square is most majestic in the quiet light of dawn. Perched on the lagoon, St Mark’s Square is headed by the breathtaking Basilica, with its iconic domes and golden interiors. Brave the 323 ft climb up the Campanile di San Marco, the tallest building in Venice, for unparalleled views.
Celebrating art, architecture, music, film and theatre, the Venice Biennale hosts several cultural events. The annual star-studded Venice Film Festival, however, is one of the best things to do in Venice. Spot celebs traversing the lagoon and catch a public screening of a new premiere. Then, visit the filming locations for several big screen classics, from Katharine Hepburn’s Summertime to horror classic Don’t Look Now.
Don’t miss a visit to one of Venice’s numerous little wine bars, known as bacari. Here you can eat like a local with cicchetti: delicious bites of Venetian finger food. Try ‘baccalà mantecato’, a dish of creamed cod served with bread. Nibble on ‘sarde in saor’, a moreish sardine snack. Or feast on ‘polpette’, delicious fried balls of meat, tuna or vegetables. Remember, it’s never too early for an Aperol Spritz.
Known as the Green Heart of Venice, slow down the pace on this serene island. Visit the Barena Honey beehives and end the day sampling the delicious elixir. Embark on a relaxing pony ride, stopping to try the delicious local artichokes on the way. If you’re lucky, you might catch the annual regatta.
Famous for its glass making, the island of Murano is a must-see. The glass museum is a great place to start learning about this Venetian art. Then, stroll the numerous stores and workshops that line the main canal. If glass isn’t your thing, you can always pop to nearby Burano, famous for the production of lace.
Art deco opulence
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