The world-famous city on the sea, Venice was initially built as a refuge from barbaric hordes sweeping down on Italy from the North. Over the centuries it is has developed into the beautiful and romantic labyrinth of waterways and bridges that millions of people flock to see every year.
Built on an archipelago of small flat islands, most visitors head to the heart of the old city: the San Marco Basilica, which rises above its equally famous square, and the adjacent equally stunning Doge’s Palace. Head to the square early in the morning to beat the worst tourist queues and swarms of selfie sticks. For a panoramic view of the city, cross the water by boat to the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore, where you can climb the bell tower.
You can also see another side of the city by visiting Murano Island, which for centuries has been the centre of production of the famous Venetian glassware. On the way back, stop by the small artificial island of San Michele in Isola, which has served as Venice’s cemetery for 200 years and is the resting place of many artists and musicians.
Back on the main island, boat-tours and guided history-tours will take you behind the tourist scenes and off the beaten track. No trip to Venice is complete without a trip along the canals on one of the iconic gondolas, with a glass of wine or champagne in hand, and when you step off the narrow boat, after having passed Ca’ d’Oro and swept under the Rialto Bridge, you will find no shortage in places to choose from for a romantic dinner.
Venetians like the rest of the country are passionate about food, and like every other Italian region, they have their own specialities, of which they are fiercely proud. Naturally, the Veneto cuisine evolves around seafood, and dishes like baccala mantecato and risotto al nero di seppia (black risotto) should be on any foodie’s checklist. The local springtime delicacy of moleche (small green crabs) are also delicious treats that can be tucked in with a cold glass of wine at hand.
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