Venice – Queen of the Adriatic

venezia1I must admit that I don’t  believe those who seems to be disappointed when they talk about Venice:” It’s dirty, smelly, expensive and overrated.” The only criticism I can understand when it comes to Venice – it’s crowded. Since over 60,000 tourists visit Venice daily, you  can prevent crowds  in a very simple way – do not be a one-day tourist, spend a few days in the heart of the city.
venezia2At you can always  find acceptable accommodation at the last minute (last time we found a nice hotel, just 5 minutes walk from Piazza San Marco, only one day before arrival). And if you arrive in summer, carnival or festival season, prices are even more acceptable.
venezia3Early morning walk in Venice is definitely one of life’s priceless pleasure. In nearly deserted St. Mark’s Square, as the sun breaks through the channels, Venice shines so quietly that even the pigeons have sweet dreams. It is exactly as painter Claude Monet once described it – too beautiful to paint it.
venezia4Every bit of the Venetian lagoon is reflecting the wealth and power of the Venetian Republic. Each of the 118 islands, 150 canals and over 400 bridges give you the unique experience of walking on the open air of  millennial history museum. Whether you are coming to the Venice Biennale, Mostra, carnival, visit some of the many museums or stroll alongside the most famous tourist destinations, Serenissima will readily welcome you.
venezia5The entire lagoon is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese… So it is not surprising that since 1987 entire Venice lagoon is protected as a World Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO as a unique artistic achievement which had an immeasurable impact on the development of world architecture and art.
venezia6If you get off the vaporetto at Riva degli Schiavoni, the first thing you’ll wish to see is probably the most beautiful square in the world – Piazza San Marco. Square has always been the center of the city and of the Republic, so all the most important city buildings, divided into three open spaces, are situated here. On the sea side, besides two pillars (one with the Venetian lion,  the symbol of St. Mark, and the second with the statue of St. Teodore, the first patron of Venice, standing on holy crocodile from Egypt)  you enter the Piazzetta  bounded by the Doge’s Palace and the National Library.
venezia7Doge’s Palace is a picturesque building with Gothic arches. During his reign, the Doge used to move into this palace with his family, and today it’s the most visited Venetian museum. During  the Renaissance the Palace was connected  by a bridge to the newly constructed prison located on the other side of the canal.
venezia007_dogepalaceToday, the bridge known as the Bridge of Sighs is, if you ask us, the biggest tourist bait in town. Namely, the gondoliers will tell you a romantic story  about  lovers that will be granted eternal love if they kissed in the moment of passing under the bridge. We haven’t  tried it, so we don’t  know about the veracity of the legend, but we prefer  Lord Byron’s version (even though it’s not much closer to the truth), in which he says that many prisoners were groaning while passing a bridge on their way to the executioner because the view from the bridge was last glance to the outside world.
venezia008_belltowerOne of the symbols of Venice is the bell tower of the basilica of St. Mark. If you don’t get  scared by  the long waiting line (in the evening there is no line nor a lot of people at the top, perfect for enjoying), and you want the best view of the city and the surrounding islands, spend  8 euros for the entrance. You will not use any calories climbing the stairs since there is a lift that will lead you to the top in just a few seconds.
venezia8The bell tower is the youngest building on the square, it has just celebrated its hundredth birthday two years ago. The construction of the bell tower on the old Roman foundations began in the 9th century and since has  been redesigned and reconstructed several times. Throughout the centuries, it was often damaged by lightning strikes, but in 1902, at the begining of July, the northern part of the wall  severely cracked and in the following days the whole tower collapsed.
venezia001_bellsConstruction of new tower began immediately after clearing the land and lasted ten years. From  the original five bells only one survived, the largest one – Marangon. Aside from the fantastic view, and if you’re lucky to visit it during ringing, on the top you will find a board with inscription about Galileo Galilei who also used the bell tower to demonstrate his telescope.
venezia002_bellsCenturies of power and wealth of the Venetian Republic can easily be seen in the Basilica of St. Mark. Byzantine architecture, gilded mosaics, luxurious Gothic domes, lots of precious stones and parts of ancient buildings were incorporated into the Basilica.
venezia003_Basilica_di_San_MarcoVenetian merchants  rarely returned without the rich booty used for decoration of Basilica, and allegedly in 9th century they have stolen  the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria.
venezia009_torreBetween the basilica and Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) there is  Piazzetta dei Leoncini, and the Archbishop’s palace at it’s foot  in front of which there are two statues of lions.
venezia11If you are fed up with crowds and waiting in lines to visit monuments on the Piazza San Marco take a three minutes  vaporetto ride from San Zaccaria to find a bit of silence and the sea breeze on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
venezia005_gondoleBut you can also go back to the Riva degli Schiavoni, and if you turn right next to the gondoliers, among the stalls you will come across a passage to a small green oasis – Giardinetti Reali. The former royal park (from the time of Napoleon‘s rule) was a real sweet discovery for us. Laurel bushes, oleanders and tall trees hiding decorated walkways, benches and fountains  where you can rest, eat something or make a plan of your next destination.  Although  St. Mark’s Square is ‘behind your back’, you will not hear any noise.
venezia9Across the street, at the beginning of the Canale Grande,  the evening sun playing with the shadows on the Santa Maria della Salute church will leave you breathless and you will realize what fascinates artists around the world to keep coming back to Venice.
venezia10The most famous Venetian tourist attractions are, of course, gondolas. On most channels you will come across checkpoints with gondolas. During the day, 40 minutes of navigation through the channels will cost you 80 euros, and a night ride 100 euros, everything else you will pay extra.
venezia12But if  passing under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice is not the “most do” for you, and you want to visit Venice from the outside and through the Grand Canal, our advice is to take a daily ticket for the vaporetto (or longer, depending upon how long you are staying, such as 48-hour ticket that will cost you 30 euros for unlimited). Public transport in Venice is perfectly organized, a large number of quickly lines are driving throughout the entire lagoon and they quite respect the timetable. OK, just do not expect Japan’s accuracy. At each station, see Lines Plan so you can easily choose the one that will drive you around the outer ring of Venice and the Grand Canal.
venezia13Not only will you go through the whole Venice and by waterway, it also gives you the opportunity to make the best photos as the  most beautiful  buildings facades are mainly oriented to the canal side. Just settle on an open vaporetto bow or stern  and enjoy it. You can come out when you want and re-embark on the next vaporetto. If you want to go over from one to the other side of Canal Grande, gondoliers will transport you across for  two euros per person, just look for the  “traghetto” sign.
venezia14Don’t forget to get off at the Rialto Mercato, the market near the Rialto Bridge, picturesque part of the city where, along the Grand Canal, you can eat something or just have a coffee and / or Aperol spritz.
venezia15Since you already have a daily ticket for the vaporetto, be sure to visit the other islands in the lagoon. For example, the Island of glass – Murano; Island of lace and colorful facades – Burano; oldest inhabited island in the lagoon – Torcello; if you are on Lido, you don’t have to, as Lord Byron did, row each day  to San Lazzaro degli Armeni, but if you have a chance be sure to visit an island full of carefully groomed greens and  the Armenian monastery and educational center on it; if you find it interesting, you can visit  probably the quietest island in the lagoon – San Michele, and it’s cemetery.
venezia16After visiting the most important tourist attractions, walk the rest of the city through the Giardini di Biennale, drink a late-night drink at the artistic Dorsoduro or discover residential Cannaregio with the old Jewish Ghetto. Don’t be like those at the beginning of this story, give Venice a chance because Venice is the Queen of the Adriatic Sea, Serene, City of Water, City of Bridges, City of Light.
venezia17The fascination fact of Venice is that with every new arrival it is more beautiful, somehow different and yet the same.
venezia18p.s We do not like to see one thing in Venice – big Cruise Ship.
venezia006_cruiserBurano – the most picturesque part of the Venetian Lagoon
 Murano – Island of Glass
Island of San Giorgio Maggiore