Venice is one of those
mystical, magical places that seems to embody much of the food, culture and
history that make Italy so revered. It's a place people idolize and dream of
one day visiting. The actual experience
can be somewhat different than expected, with hordes of tourists, sweltering
temperatures in the summer and inauthentic tourist traps lying everywhere.
Venice is best known for its
winding canals and the small boats that travel them. Many tourists opt for the
traditional route of hiring a private gondola. This classic option can cost you
quite a lot, expect to pay close to 100 euros for the privilege.
Nobody actually misses
Venice's major cathedral, and with good reason: it absolutely lives up to the
hype as one of the most unique and beautiful churches in all of Italy. Unlike
the dozens of Renaissance churches you will see down south, Saint Mark's is a
thousand year old example of Byzantine architecture with dramatic spires,
golden mosaics and elaborate arches. Nicknamed the Chiesa d'Oro (the Church of
Gold), the inside is filled with elaborate marble, silver and gold tiles. Try
to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Getting lost in Venice is
both unmissable and unavoidable. Whether you plan for it or not, at some point
you will find yourself wandering the narrow alleyways without a clue as to
where you are. This is a good thing though; getting lost in Venice allows you
to truly explore what makes the city great: the secret passageways, decaying
mansions and abandoned piazzas. You will find hidden shops, tiny bakeries and
interesting details that aren't on any map.
Venice doesn't really compete
with its neighboring provinces when it comes to food. Visitors who aren't sure
where to look may find themselves sorely disappointed as the food in tourist
restaurants is usually marked up and watered down.
Don't just limit your
explorations to the island of Venice itself. The surrounding area includes many
interesting towns and islands which make a terrific half-day trip. The island
neighborhood of Burano is known for it's rainbow-colored houses and relaxed
atmosphere. More famous is Murano, the island of the glassblowers, where
visitors can watch demonstrations and purchase all manner of hand-crafted glass
What is at the top of your
Venice wish list?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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