While many foundations in Venice are built on recently reclaimed land, the reputation of the capitol of Veneto is firmly entrenched in history and romance. The city that Vivaldi and Maro Polo called home is divided into six sestieri (areas) with the Grand Canal flowing through its center. The weather is fairly moderate as you would expect from an area this close to the sea. While it rains all year round, spring and autumn are the least crowded months making it slightly easier to find availability in a Venice hotel during these seasons.
Annual highlights include the internationally renowned Venice Carnival, held 40 days before Easter and the Redentore Regatta that takes place on the Grand Canal in July.
Eating in Venice
Venetian cuisine is based on seafood served with polenta. Popular dishes include Risotto nero (rice coloured with cuttlefish ink) and Risi e bisi (rice and bean) soup. You can expect vegetables side dishes such as the famous fondi di carciofo (artichokes ends) and radicchio alla trevigiana (Trevisian style chicory).
Shopping in Venice
The brightly lit and well-stocked shop windows are designed to capture your attention as you stroll through the narrow streets of Venice. Since the Middle-ages, Le Mercerie, which links St. Mark’s Square to the Rialto, has been the main shopping street. It is made up of a maze of noisy, narrow streets with small workshops and boutiques and to the west of St. Marks it is full of interesting and unusual shops. The most beautiful jewelry shops are under the colonnade of St. Mark’s Square. From the Square to the Ponte dell’ Accademia (Bridge of the Academy) there are high quality stores, while souvenirs and presents can be bought north of Campo Santo Stefano. Less expensive shops are located towards Campo San Paolo, beyond the Grand Canal. There are a wealth of elegant shops specializing in modern furnishings and household items along the large boulevard viale of the Lido. The symbol of Venice, the mask, is sold all over the city. There are cheap, mass-produced masks, but also real craftsman-made masterpieces. You’ll find some delightful examples in Castello at the Laboratorio Artigianale Maschere (Artisan Mask-Making Workshop). Take a peek at how the locals shop and visit the Rialto Market for the freshest fish, vegetables, flowers and fruit (go early – it can get crowded!).
A little further afield
Via Baldassarre Galuppi is the main street of the Island of Burano where you can take a break to sample some fresh fish outdoors, as well as shopping for lace and linens. On the island of Murano you can buy blown glass directly from the workshops with furnaces and showrooms.
The city boasts a wide variety of products and a strong tradition of glass and lace craftsmanship. Venice is also famous for its elegant silk, printed velvet and sumptuous brocades. Some of the most admired fabrics are the fine pleated silks invented by Fortuny. It also offers high quality fashion, antiques, leather goods, jewelry and even marbled paper. The leading names in fashion can be found near St. Mark’s Square.
Venetian vendors are open: Mondays 15:30 to 19:30 (most shops are not open in the morning) Tuesdays to Saturdays 09:30 / 10:00 to 13:00 and 15:30 to 19:00 / 19:30 (most shops close for an afternoon break).
Armani, Laura Biagiotti, Missoni, Gucci, Krizia, Max Mara, Prada, Trussardi, Versace and Valentino all have boutiques near St Mark’s Square.
Our floating city of bridges is filled with magnificent treasures and we are proud to call it home – but we would also like our guests to have the opportunity to enjoy the greater Italian experience that can be found within 30 minutes by train from Venice. Visit Padua for the renowned frescoes by Giotto, Treviso for the inimitable Italian style of typical Italian town squares and see glorious examples of Italian architecture dating back to medieval times in Vicenza.
A little more about Padua…
Dante and Copernicus are counted amongst the alumni of this large Italian town’s ancient university. In fact Padua is famous for its university life and the population ebbs and flows with the academic calendar – it is often compared to the city of Oxford in Great Britain. The Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni), with its priceless frescoes by Giotto is a very popular destination. If you prefer slightly fewer fellow visitors; head over to the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua (known simply as Il Santo) to view Dontello’s famous equestrian statue. The rest of Padua is not on the tourism/pilgrimage circuit and you are more likely to encounter students and smartly-dressed business people than fellow travellers.
A little more about Treviso…
Benetton and DeLonghi call Treviso home and the city centre awaits visitors, only 5-10 minutes on foot from the railway station. Circled by the town wall and waterways it is famous for several attractions, all worthy of a day trip. The civic heart of Treviso is Piazza dei Signori (Lord’s square), a pleasant square with a street running along one side and cafés with outdoor tables along the other. The dominant building here is the historic town hall; the Palazzo dei Trecento which has been rebuilt since its part destruction from an Allied bomb in 1944. Treviso also lends itself to exploring on foot, and it's many enticing bars, cafés and restaurants offer respite for wanderers wanting to sample the local cuisine and the famous Italian sparkling Prosecco.
A little more about Vicenza…
It was a prosperous town under Venetian rule, and its pride was expressed in the fine architecture, much of which survives to this day. Its unique appearance, largely owing to the work of influential sixteenth-century architect Andrea Palladio, has led to this cosmopolitan town’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto. After Palladio, Vicenza is most famous for its trade in precious metals and is even known as the 'City of gold'. Piazza dei Signori is the heart of town, dominated by two of Vicenza's most striking landmarks, the Basilica Palladiana, the town's medieval law courts, and the adjacent Torre di Piazza, a tall and skinny tower. We can’t afford to forget the Teatro Olimpico, Palladio's last work, which was continued by his son and then later worked on by Vincenzo Scamozzi. The inhabitants of the town were reportedly particularly resourceful during WWII – hence the fact that the rest of Italy sometimes jestingly refer to them as cat eaters! You might want to stick to its famous cheeses, Nanto truffles and wines. Guests with a generous schedule can venture further afield to experience the summer opera session of Verona and the glorious Brenta Riviera featuring the competitive architecture of the fifteenth century villas.
Verona has been an important town since Roman times and is rich in archaeological sites. The Roman military settlement is still visible from the air in the very center of town and 6m below the modern surface the Roman town lies intact down to its basalt paved roads. The most famous Roman monument here is the Arena, which in the summer months hosts a high-profile opera season, occasional concerts and other public events. Verona is also famous for the legend of Romeo and Juliet, told by Shakespeare, in the celebrated tragedy. ‘Juliet’s balcony’, might not have any actual connection to the original story but it remains one of the attractions visited by tourists from all over the world.
The Brenta Riviera is famous for its fifteenth century villas, built by rich Venetian landowners along this river that eventually runs into the Adriatic Sea just south of the Venetian lagoon. The villas were originally utilized as the headquarters from where the owners oversaw their agricultural estates. Soon however the villas were put to popular use as summer residences. The villas offered rural respite from stuffy Venice although appearance remained very important even in the country! The nobility wished to entertain in style and indeed to compete with their neighbours. Architects and artists were brought in to decorate the villas and sometimes - as at the Barchessa Valmarana - former agricultural buildings were converted into luxurious accommodation or ballrooms. The most famous villas, located only 10-15 km from Mestre, are: Villa Foscari, known also as La Malcontenta, the Barchessa Valmarana, and Villa Pisani.