Possibly the most wanted destination of Italy if not the whole world. Venice conjures up images of gondolas and bridges spanning tiny waterways, as the historic old buildings look on giving their assent. Modern day Venice is quite different, with large cruise liners depositing thousands of tourists daily onto the famous piazzas and canals. The city that is slowly sinking into the water is crammed full of fantastic attractions and has a rich medieval history. Some of the boutique stores, cafes and bijou restaurants have changed little since the 18th Century. Venice is a great place to explore, as there is a labyrinth of tiny cobbled streets running alongside a grid-work of serene canals.
This blog concentrates on some of the lesser known attractions in Venice, so you can leave the tourists behind in Piazza San Marco and follow the paths less trodden that will lead you to beautiful islands, atmospheric cafes, art galleries and awesome museums.
Catch a water taxi to San Giorgio Maggiore Island and make your way to the ancient church of San Zaccaria to be stunned by the beauty of this 15th Century building. Though the sacred site actually dates back far earlier, right back to the 600s. The claim to fame of San Zaccaria is that is the home of the bones of John the Baptist’s father, Saint Zacharias. As well as serious religious artifacts on display, some priceless art is also exhibited. For instance, the altarpiece that dates back to 1505 was designed by Giovani Bellini, and if you have the time a visit down to the beautiful crypt is highly recommended.
When visiting Venice, you have to see the Grand Canal, and the best method to view it is by private water taxi, that way you are not jostled on a water boat crowded by tourists. You can also stop off whenever you want, to take selfies or pop in for a freshly baked delicacy at a local bakery.
Many tourists complain that the cafes and restaurants of Venice are overpriced and serve mediocre fair. To some degree this is true, but if you know where to go in Venice you can sample some delightful Italian cuisine. Caffe Florian is more of an institution than a hidden culinary gem. It is the cafe that you must visit on Piazza San Marco, you can enjoy a rather expensive lunch or just take it easy and sip a cocktail to watch the world go around in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Caffe Florian certainly commands a great location, hiding in the shadow of the tall campanile. Your trip will be even more enjoyable if the live orchestra is playing outside.
Just a stone’s throw from Caffe Florian you can find one of the very few green spaces in Venice, and Giardini Reali is a local secret. It has been the place for Venetians to relax for over five hundred years and is steeped in culture and history. In part two of our blog we will be looking at even more magical places hidden away in Venice.