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Welcome to Venice

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Venice is a beautiful city in Italy, steeped in history and the ultimate destination for a romantic getaway. It isn’t well known for car travel as most of the city is cut off from any roads and the locals all travel by boat along the countless canals - however, taking a car rental is a good idea if you want to visit the nearby cities of Verona and Mestre or if you plan on visiting the beach island Lido, which is one of the few places in Venice where you can drive. The city is an absolute pleasure to explore, with its corroding buildings that meet back alleys that come to an end at the banks of emerald canals, while during the masquerade, masks that hang from the dark doors of the Mascherari depict Plague Doctors and other macabre characters, and the jewel on the crown - the Gondoliers as they make their way through the murky waters of the Grand Canal much to the delight of the throngs of passing tourists.

 

Venice - The Facts

 

  • Venice is made up of 118 islands - all connected by some 400 bridges over more than 150 canals
  • Venice has been the birthplace and home of many famous figures throughout history including, but in no way limited to Marco Polo, the composer Anotnio Vivaldi, the writer and “great lover” Casanova the Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini and the founder of the Ballet Russes Sergei Diaghilev who is actually buried on the cemetery island - San Michele
  • The origins of Venice go all the way back to 400AD
  • Venice is home to some 170 bell towers that in the past have served as not only a call for church services but also as lighthouses and observatories, of particular interest is the San Marco Bell Tower which is Italy’s fifth tallest bell tower measuring in at 275 feet and originally built in the 12 century, and rebuilt in 1902 after it unexpectedly collapsed
  • There are literally hundreds of Gondolas on the water at any one time and more than 400 Gondoliers - one of the newest of which is a woman - the first in history

 

Venice - A short Guide

 

You can have a good time in Venice by just walking the alleys and streets, carefully navigating the numerous bridges and taking boats and gondolas around the city. You’ll be face to face with centuries of history, taking in the imposing Piazza San Marco and inspiring Scala Contarini del Bovolo with its enchanting facade made up numerous balconies and a spiral staircase. Everything in this city is a work of art, every church (and there are many) is grand, and every corner brings a gasp of awe as you stumble into yet another beautiful walkway, windows adorned with flowers in full bloom and the scent of water mixed with Italian spices and the intoxicating scents of the Venetian Spritz (white wine and sparkling water spiked with Aperol) overcomes your senses.

 

There is so much to do in Venice that you literally would probably need a lifetime to truly get to know it all, though if you want to explore the architecture, then you’re in luck as that’s the easiest of all. Simply wonder the streets, cross bridges and explore inspiring landmarks like the Basilica di San Marco, home to 5 domes and fine mosaics. Rialto bridge is just a few minutes walk away from Piazza San Marco will also astound, though prepare yourself for big crowds of international tourists, all snapping pictures of the bridge and the Grand Canal. The Jewish Ghetto is also a nice place to explore, there you’ll find typical Venetian buildings mingling with a yeshiva and many Judaica shops, Get there by water bus for a fun, but busy ride on Venetian waters. Something of a must see is the Ponte dei Sospiri or the Bridge of Sighs as it is better known. It connects the Palazzo delle Prigioni and Palazzo Ducale, and was once the final crossing for convicts as they entered prison. Its name was given by Lord Byron and it comes from the sighs of the convicts as they took one last look at the waters of venice. Quite understandable, for the bridge looks out on one side to the canals and the other to the open waters of the Laguna Veneta.

 

You may want to visit Venice for one of many reasons, whether for the sights and sounds, for the beautiful churches, the carnival or of course the romance, but many forget that Venice is also home to a beach. Lido is quite literally a lengthy sand bar. Aside from a sun seekers haven just minutes from a historical paradise, it’s also the venue for the annual Venice film festival. This is one of the few places in Venice where one might see a bus or a car, which are used primarily to get from one side of the small island to the other. You can get there easily from the Venice mainland by water bus, and it’s a good place to escape to if you fancy a days sunbathing or a swim.

 

A much less loved part of travel in Venice is that of food, however, if you know where to look - there are some fabulous restaurants in the city. Many are hidden away on hard to reach squares and in shadowy alleys but all are very much worth the search and misadventure. There are plenty of tourist traps - many of which are absolutely fine for a short lunch - so if you’re in the mood for a simple pasta or pizza then don’t be afraid to try one of those. As a simple rule - the further away from San Marco and Rialto bridge - the cheaper the restaurant. Of course there are some wonderful restaurants in Venice too, and one such restaurant is A beccafico on Campo S. Stefano. You’ll need to do some walking to find the square, and you’ll no doubt have some fun taking a wrong turn or two on the way, but the restaurant serves astounding Sicilian fare and has some of the finest service available in all of Venice. Lookout for the mussels that come served in a clam shaped dish that comes wrapped in a pizza bread and the exquisite seafood pastas and platters all of which are wonderful.

 

If you’re in Venice for a long trip, you should also consider the islands of Murano - home to the famous Murano glass and a few open factories where it’s easy to see the glass blowing in action, and Burano, much like Venice it is home to many bridges, but also a much quieter experience with a couple of nice restaurants and some very colourful homes. A little further afield is Verona which is easy to reach by car and is most famous for being home to the house and balcony said to belong to Shakespeare’s Juliet, but if you’re there in the summer months you really must visit the 2000 year old Roman Arena, either just to view in absolute awe, or to see an open air opera performance amidst unbelievable scenery. Hiring a car in Venice is a useful thing to do, either to drive from the airport into the city centre to avoid the steep boat tai fees, or to explore the Veneto region, home to many little towns and cities all of interest to tourists. You can compare all of the available car rentals for Venice right here on the Car Rentals Network website and easily arrange to pick up your car at Venice’s Marco Polo website.


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