Anyone coming to the Venetian Riviera for a dose of jaw-dropping culture matched only by long sandy beaches will fall instantly and head over heels with Venice
The sheer concept of Venice – a city with canals instead of roads – is brilliant enough without the magic of the architecture, the music, the hotels and a carnival unlike any other. No wonder, then, that lovers of this magical place come back time and again.
Souvenir shops are as common a sight as gondolas in Venice, and your Euros can purchase you everything from mass-produced masks and plastic tat to high-class glassware, fabrics and handicrafts. Many of the outlets around the Rialto and St Mark’s Square have near-identical stocks, but there are plenty of quality merchants to be found if you look elsewhere. A trip to the island of Burano gives a fantastic opportunity to buy lace items, for example, while the similarly named Murano is famed for its Venetian glassware. It’s thought that glassmaking on the island dates back well over a millennium.
Food & Drink
Venice hides a whole host of culinary treats (and more than the occasional tourist trap) among its winding passageways. The takeaway fresh pasta at Alfredo’s (Calle De La Casseleria 5324) is a near-legendary institution, while the simple but tasty offerings at Bacareto Da Lele (Campo Dei Tolentini 183) make it a perennial favourite among locals. For something more formal, the enviably located Quadri (Piazza San Marco 120) has had a sterling reputation for years, and the Terrazza Danieli (Riva degli Schiavoni 4196) has wonderful city views. Some would argue that no Venice trip is complete without a Bellini at Harry’s Bar (Calle Vallaresso 1323).
Carnevale di Venezia
A masked ball of gargantuan proportions, Venice’s world-famous Carnevale takes place in the run-up to Lent (10 days up to Shrove Tuesday), with St Mark’s Square filling with costumed entertainers, live musicians and other performers. Private masked balls take place all over the city, alongside open-air alternatives.
Created as a reaction to the number of motorised vessels on the waterways, Vogalonga sees thousands of wooden boats and other human-powered craft compete in a rowing ‘race’ along a route stretching more than 30km. It always takes place on a Sunday.
Festa de San Piero de Casteo
An intimate week-long shindig that retains a small-town atmosphere with its puppet shows, fairground attractions, food stalls and live musical performances, all centred on the ‘village green’ outside the church of San Piero.
Venezia Jazz Festival
Venice’s leading jazz festival draws leading names on the world scene to the City of Water, with trumpets tootling and saxes swinging not just in Venice but in the wider region too.
Venice International Film Festival
Rightly seen as one of the world’s premier film festivals (it is in fact the oldest international festival of its kind anywhere), the Venice International Film Festival takes place on the Lido and sees films battle it out to win the prestigious Leone d’Oro (Golden Lion).
Few places rely on tourism quite so much as Venice – a destination so timeless and magnificent that it can sometimes appear more of a stage set than a living, breathing city. Unsurprisingly, the majority of its best hotels take Venice’s rich heritage as inspiration for their décor, with properties like Hotel Antico Doge (Cannaregio 5643) and Corte di Gabriela (Calle degli Avvocati 3836) combining old-world elegance with modern comforts. Hotel Moresco (Sestiere Dorsoduro 3499) is an opulent hotel sitting five minutes’ walk from Piazzale Roma, while the famous Hotel Cipriani (Giudecca 10) is located on the island on Giudecca, removing it from the hubbub of the main tourist areas.