Venice boasts over 40 kilometres of canals. Known as ‘The Floating City’, the canals are bustling with water traffic of varying types to allow the city to function without cars or vans. The canals have rules and regulations just like any road and some of the canals even have traffic lights. The largest of the canals is the Grand Canal which is meanders through the city.
There are over 400 bridges in the Venice, each one completely unique. Perhaps the most famous is the Rialto bridge which is the oldest bridge over the Grand Canal and dates back more than 500 years. This stone arched bridge is large, big enough to even house shops and street vendors. Each bridge in Venice could certainly tell a story but none more so that the Bridge of Sighs. The small, enclosed limestone bridge was built between interrogation rooms and the city’s prison. The view from the bridge was to be the last for many convicted felons.
Venice is home to many gifts shops, art galleries and souvenir stalls. Many shops sell varied and intricate Venetian masks, usually saved for the locals for carnival time in February. The masks make great souvenirs and can be found in all sorts of weird and wonderful designs. Another popular purchase are paintings and prints of Venice, especially the Grand Canal or Saint Marc’s Square. A favourite with artists and it’s easy to see why, many will enjoy painting with a large audience and then sell the paintings when finished.
Piazza san Marco is the main square in Venice and is a bustling centre of the city. There is a real café culture here with people sitting and watching the world go by – be warned though, the front row seats command higher prices for food and drinks. The square is home to many street entertainers and has a great atmosphere. The square is located at the end of the Grand Canal and has been known to flood in recent times. As Venice is said to be sinking, albeit extremely slowly, and water levels are rising, the square has been known to be submerged in water follow heavy rainfall. At the eastern end of the square is St. Mark’s Basilica; a dominating cathedral. The basilica is a fine example of Italian-Byzantine architecture and is a sight to behold. The Basilica is open to the public and well worth a visit.
No visit to Venice is complete without a gondola ride. These small boats are steered and powered by a fully trained, qualified and most skilful gondolier. The gondolier uses a long oar to glide the gondolier along the canals. The Grand canal is extremely busy with regular traffic, so the gondolas tend to focus their time on the smaller back water canals. Often only one gondola can squeeze through these small areas and there are many unwritten rules regarding rights of way. Many gondolas can be found parked on the canal just outside St. Mark’s square and it is a special sight with the small boats bobbing up and down. Venice is known as a city of romance with many marriage proposals taking place whilst on a gondola ride.
Just a short water taxi ride away is the small island of Murano. This tranquil place feels like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Venice. Murano is beautiful with colourful houses lining its very own Grand Canal. Murano is most well know though for its glass making. The island boats several glass factories and workshops where you can go and watch the glass being blown and crafted. This fascinating skill has been handed down through generations for over a thousand years and is well known worldwide. The colourful glass is intricate in its design and large pieces such as chandeliers are often crafted on this island. Many people will invest in a beautiful and long-lasting souvenir whilst on holiday to remember their special time in Venice.
In addition to delicious pizza and pasta, Venice is well known for its seafood. Daily catches are brought by boat and flavoursome dishes concocted. One of the local delicacies is Moleche which are small green crabs. It is quite a skill to catch these crabs and timing is key. Once harvested, they are deep fried and often served in Venice as an appetizer. Fresh steamed fish together with green vegetables from the region is also a simple and popular choice.
Summer in Venice begins in June, climbing to highs of around 30 degrees in July and August. However, the high heat and humidity can often lead to frequent dramatic thunderstorms but once the storm clears, sunshine levels and clear skies return almost immediately.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Italy but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy.
In Venice, the currency used is the Euro (EUR).
The main language spoken is Italian.