Venice, Italy is said to be one of the most romantic cities in the world, and after my visit there I can definitely see why. What place could be more romantic than the city Casanova made his home? Just watch the sunset on St Mark’s Square, get lost in the narrow backstreets, or take a gondola ride for two through the canals (although, I learned they were used to carry the bodies of the deceased after the plague which is why they’re painted black—not quite as romantic as I thought). Venice is truly a spectacle of art, and grandeur, with a history so rich that I can’t even begin to write about it in one post.
One reason we decided to visit Venice was to see the famous Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition held every odd-numbered year (biennially). Many art exhibitions usually go on during this time, such as this year’s Damian Hirst exhibit, ‘Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable’, and David LaChapelle’s ‘Casa dei Tre Oci’. We also happened to be there for the Festa del Redentore, which celebrates the end of the plague of 1576. If you are there the third Sunday of July, I would advise that you secure a boat in advance to watch the famous fireworks show among the hundreds of other boats floating on the Grand Canal—a very special experience.
What to expect
- Venice is made up of more than 100 small islands connected by bridges.
- There are no cars (with the exception of the island of Lido). However, Venice is small enough to be walkable by foot.
- The fastest way to get around is by water taxi, but it’s definitely not the cheapest. The cheapest option is the Alilaguna, which is like a water bus that stops periodically. Upon arrival to Marco Polo Airport, I would highly suggest taking a private water taxi to where you are staying. It is much more expensive (around 100 euros), but it will save you a lot of time and frustration, as the lines for the Alilaguna are very long and crowded at the airport. It will likely take several hours during high season to get to your hotel on the Alilaguna vs. taking only 20 minutes by water taxi.
- You can get around by gondolas, but they are very slow moving and expensive. They cost around 80 euros before 7 pm and 100 euros after. I would suggest going once, just for the experience and bring a bottle of wine!
Where to Stay
- Hotel Monaco– I love this hotel because of its location on the Grand Canal and its close proximity to everything. The service is great and the interior design is classic.
- Belmond Hotel Cipriani– One of the most beautiful hotels in town overlooking the San Marco Piazza. They have an outdoor pool (which is unique for Venice) and outstanding service.
- Aman– A posh historical building on the canal decorated in classic old Venice fashion. You can never go wrong with an Aman hotel. Also, they have a secret rooftop bar on the 5th floor if you prefer to stop by for a drink.
Food + Drink
- Taverna la Fenice– An upscale classic Venetian restaurant. Our local friends say it’s their favorite for a Saturday night out.
- Cip’s Club– The more casual restaurant at the Belmond Hotel, although a bit overpriced. Go there for a spectacular view at sunset.
- Ostaria Boccadoro– A modern take on Venetian food if you get tired of the usual ‘classic’ style. The menu is seafood based like most of the restaurants in Venice.
- Murano– Visit one of the glass factories on the island of Murano to see these true artisans at work.
- Burano– Roam the streets of the island famous for its hand-made lace with candy-colored fisherman homes.
- Teatro La Fenice– An opera house which is one of the most renowned landmarks in the history of Italian Theatre.