Venice, the capital of the Veneto region, lies on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, for its extraordinary artistic and architectural heritage, and it is no coincidence that it welcomes millions of tourists each year, both Italian and foreign.
Sung and celebrated by poets, the city of the Doges is surrounded by an almost magical aura, which can be felt in the streets, canals, bridges, in every corner, everywhere. A unique atmosphere that makes Venice a must-see destination.
Quite arduous, and at times “embarrassing” to choose what to devote to, when you are visiting the Serenissima: surely you cannot miss Piazza San Marco, the heart of Venice, with the large square on which the Basilica overlooks, which is perhaps the image that remains most impressed. And then the Ducal Palace, the Grand Canal, the Clock Tower. Without forgetting the bridges of the city, among which the best known are that of the Sighs and that of Rialto, and the churches and museums.
But, as previously anticipated, words are not enough: Venice is a gem, a “dream” that everyone should live at least once in their life.
It is also true, however, that in a world-famous city, second only to visitors in Rome, the “tourist” story ends up obscuring the more “unusual” , but not less beautiful parts. As for the periods of the year in which to visit it, spring and autumn can be pre-set, unless you like high water (continuously monitored by the town’s tidal centre) and Carnival. Visiting Venice, at least once in your life, is always worthwhile regardless of the seasons and weather conditions.
Heart of the Most Serene Republic of Venice and, at the same time, a living room of Europe. Piazza San Marco has always had this “glocal” vocation: symbol of Venetianity and multicultural environment par excellence. It is inevitable that this will be the first stop for anyone arriving in the city. A photo in the centre of this trapezoidal square will also be an abused rite, to turn up the nose of some overzealous local, but “has to do” absolutely. All around there are works of inestimable value: from the Basilica, to the bell tower, to the Palazzo Ducale. Wonders that the whole world envies and therefore deserve to be treated separately.
Having arrived in Piazza San Marco and having taken all the usual photos, the very first thing to do is to visit the Basilica of the same name. The reason is easy to say. It represents the living heritage of Roman, Byzantine and Venetian culture. Especially of the latter, since the inhabitants of the Serenissima, a proud people of sailors, have provided for centuries to embellish it and adorn it with artefacts from the most distant lands of the East.
Moreover, considering the myth of the church’s foundation, it could not be otherwise. Legend has it, in fact, that the need to build a temple arose following the stealing of the saint’s relics from Alexandria of Egypt by two Venetian merchants. The golden mosaics inside do not leave even the most tenacious of the agnostics indifferent. To see, in the Museum of the Basilica, the Four Horses of San Marco. Until the 1980s, these sculptures from Constantinople (stolen at the end of the 18th century by Napoleon Bonaparte and returned to the city in 1815 after the defeat of Waterloo) were placed on the terrace of the Basilica. Subsequently, the need arose to preserve them from the elements by lodging them in a specific room of the Museum set up in the spaces above the north-western atrium. Those currently visible to the outside are therefore identical copies.
Palazzo Ducale is a must for anyone wishing to explore the historical, cultural and political importance of Venice, for centuries the bridge city between the West and the East. A majestic architecture, emblem of Venetian Gothic, further enhanced by the enormous quantity of works of art preserved in the three large buildings that make up the structure. A structure that until 1797 followed the developments of the millennial Republic of Venice (Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Doge of Venice), later passing first into French, then Austrian, until the Italian annexation in 1866. Between the end of the 1800s and the beginning ‘900 the young Italian State provided for a radical restoration of the Ducal Palace. A far-sighted and not at all obvious initiative, given the enormous amount of problems and inequalities that the unification brought with it. Since the 1920s, Palazzo Ducale has been the headquarters of the Superintendence for the Environmental and Architectural Heritage of Venice and the Lagoon. Furthermore, since 1996 it has been an integral part of the city’s Civic Museums system.
Along the 3800 meters, Grand Canal – “Canalaso” as the Venetians call it – is still the main axis for city transport. A ride on a vaporetto or, better still, a gondola is therefore a must. In Venice there is a kind of collective gondola taxi that the inhabitants call “ferry”. It stands and connects the two banks of the Grand Canal in different points.
Picasso, Kandinsky, Magritte, De Chirico, Boccioni, Dalì are just some of the artists whose works have become part of the Peggy Guggenheim collection over time. One of the most important museums in the world on European and American art of the twentieth century based in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal. In addition to the permanent with the works of this American collector buried, among other things, in the garden of the palace (Marguerite “Peggy” Guggenheim 1898-1979) the museum is characterized by an intense calendar of activities with exhibitions, debates and training initiatives aimed at children.
You can’t come to Venice and don’t take the lagoon tour. The unavoidable stage of this tour is the Murano Glass Museum. Seven routes, from the fourteenth century to the contemporary, to learn about and study this ancient form of art, heritage of the city and of the whole of Italy.
Every year Venice hosts The International Film Festival (usually between the end of August and the beginning of September), in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Marconi seafront (and in other buildings near or not far), in the Lido of Venice. It is second oldest cinema event in the world: the first edition was held between 6 and 21 August 1932 (while the Academy Award, commonly known as the Oscar Prize, takes place, in a single evening, since 1929).
The exhibition is part of the wider activity of the Venice Biennale, a cultural institution founded in 1895, which from the same year organized the famous International Exhibition of Contemporary Art and from 1930 the International Festival of Contemporary Music.
The main prize awarded (along with several others) is the Golden Lion, which owes its name to the symbol of the city (the Lion of St. Mark). This recognition is considered one of the most important from the point of view of film criticism, like those assigned in the other two major European film festivals, the Cannes Palme d’Or and the Golden Bear of the International Film Festival of Berlin.
If you want to have a drink in Venice, bacari and cicchetti are the perfect solution for you. Bacari are the heart of the aperitif in Venice, which often lasts until late in the evening, and you can recognize them by the relaxed people chatting in front of you while sipping a glass of wine or a spritz.
The bacari are typical venues of the aperitif in Venice, small taverns (the name of many bacari, in fact, is preceded by “Osteria”) around which gather both young and old, before lunch or before dinner to drink “A shadow” (a glass) in company. They are found almost in every field of the city, especially in the most “popular” areas like Cannaregio and, thanks to the good price of wine and cicchetti, they represent the perfect stops for young people who want to embark on a “bacaro tour”. To accompany the liters of wine consumed in the bacari not only on weekends but throughout the week, cicchetti are also offered. These are appetizers or, to use a more modern name, “finger food” for all tastes. They are generally found based on fish, but also with vegetables or meat, fried or on a slice of bread. So why not try a slice of polenta with creamed cod? Or, if you are really hungry, a mozzarella in a carrozza (which Venetian is not)? But there are also meatballs, cheese, eggs and crispy fries, or sandwiches of all kinds.