The Italian city of Venice is one of the most popular and iconic holiday destinations in the world, consisting of 118 small islands formed by about 150 canals in the marshy Venetian Lagoon, situated the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. World-famous for its canals, it remains remarkably unchanged in the last 400 years, with the majority of transportation in the city centre taking place on foot or on water.
With a history reaching back to the 9th century, the city prospered thanks to its capacity as a city of trade and by the 18th century it had become perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing literature, art and architecture. Although it faced a decline following its capture by Napoleon it became a popular tourist destination and is a monument to the glory days of the Renaissance.
Although the main tourist season in Venice is the summer, either spring or autumn is probably the best time to visit – there are less tourists about, meaning its easier to get around and see the sights, plus the weather is more bearable for visitors from colder climates. The Venice Carnival, this year having taken place between the 25th of January and the 5th of February, may have been and gone, but there are still plenty of other things for tourists to see and experience.
St. Mark’s Square is the principal square of Venice. Referred to Alfred de Musset as “the drawing room of Europe” it is a central landmark and gathering point in Venice, popular with tourists, photographers and the Venetian pigeons! Originally a small area in front of the original St. Mark’s Basilica cathedral, the area has expanded considerably and is a great starting point to see the sights and landmarks of Venice. Apart from St. Mark’s Basilica, other nearby landmarks include the Doge’s Palace, the Napoleonic Wing of the Procuraties, the Procuratie Nuove, and the Biblioteca Marciana.
Venice has some wonderful restaurants, featuring the cuisine of the Veneto region. As with any holiday destination, the best deals are available from restaurants outwith close proximity to tourist attractions. One of the staples of the Venetian diet is the cuttlefish and its ink. Though intense in colour, the black ink has a relatively mild taste and serves as a sauce and ingredient for polenta (corn meal), pasta and risotto dishes.
Venice is packed full in every corner of little stores selling souvenirs, the most common being Carnival masks, glass, and marbled paper. The price can vary greatly from shop to shop, so it is advisable to shop around before buying anything to bring back home. Be aware that plenty of items labelled as ‘Made in Venice’ are actually made in China – for example, original Murano glass, made at the Venetian island of Murano, can cost up to thousands of Euros, but counterfeit pieces can be found at a significantly lower price in several of Venice’s tourist shops.
As a popular tourist destination, Venice accommodation can be very expensive, but if you book your trip far enough in advance and shop around for the best deals, you should be able to find something to suit any budget. To get into Venice, travellers can take advantage of inexpensive flights to the nearby Marco Polo or Treviso airports and from there catch shuttles or arrange private transfers to reach their final destinations with ease.
So if you’re looking for wonderful sights and cuisine in one of the most iconic cities of Europe, try a trip to Venice this spring.
Matthew Pressman is a freelance writer and frequent flyer. When not travelling, he enjoys golf and fishing.
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