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Venice is called La Serenissima, or even the Serene Republic. In the beginning you might not recognize the lack of noise here. However it hits you - you will find no cars here. While you walk lower the center of the road, you'll marvel in the beauty around every street corner. It appears such as the entire city continues to be lifted straight from a painting. There's nowhere else on the planet where earth and water exist together so freely, with neither element attempting to establish its superiority. Couples throughout the planet flock towards the world's most romantic city. Whether it’s the quaint canals, or the intimate gondola rides, Venice is Italy’s honeymoon capital.
 
Obviously, the secret's out, and also the throngs of vacationers do diminish the city's pristine visage. Throughout the summer time, Piazza San Marco is teeming with individuals, a lot of actually it appears such as the city will permeate water that runs through it. In fact, the town is sinking, at typically five inches every two decades. Unless of course something is performed to help keep Venice afloat, the town may join Atlantis at the end from the ocean.
 
Because Venice's fortunes are tied so carefully towards the ocean, it should be noted that Venice manages to lose a number of its charm within the fall several weeks, when high tides ton the best areas of the town, such as the city's center, Piazza San Marco. Around the most popular summer time days, water starts to smell, regardless of the city's best efforts to help keep its rivers clean. However, don't let these small inconveniences draw attention away from you coming from all the great things Venice needs to offer. This is actually the one location on the planet in which the city is the attraction. The different options are a whole day travelling and sitting outdoors, preventing for supper or some gelato, and never step feet in one attraction. You still be enchanted, getting experienced probably the most attractive city on the planet.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships pier in the Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, Marittima Fabbricato 248, in Venice. In the pier, there's easy accessibility relaxation from the city by water taxi.
 
Vaporetti, or water taxis, are the only method to circumvent Venice effectively, unless of course you need to walk rather. The vaporetti are often crowded, however they operate on a reasonably regular schedule. Contact the Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti (Isola Nova del Tronchetto 32) for agendas and knowledge. Walking is most certainly a choice, as the majority of Venice's points of interest are within easy reach of one another. Gondolas aren't reasonable to making your way around they're only for use for romantic outings round the city.
 
Things to do & See
It's rare the primary local interest of the city may be the city itself, but Venice's primary attraction is Venice. A whole day could be spent just marveling in the beauty everywhere. You need to make Piazza San Marco your house base. The piazza may be the heart from the city, and also the perfect spot to catch on your watching people.
 
St. Mark's Basilica is within Piazza San Marco, and also the cathedral passes for Venice's greatest attraction. Like every chapel, sincere clothes are expected, along with a strict dress code is enforced. No shorts, no bare arms or shoulders, and skirts must fall underneath the knee. Once inside, benefit from the six cupolas featuring mosaics of numerous Scriptural moments. St. Mark's body was smuggled from Alexandria and introduced here, where it now rests.
 
The neighboring bell tower, Campanile di San Marco toppled in 1902, however it has since been reconstructed. The vista from the top tower is splendid, and in contrast to the Duomo in Florence or St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, a lift can be obtained to consider you completely to the peak. Venice's best memorial, Museo Civico Correr, (Piazza San Marco) is nearby.
 
A gondola ride is essential if you're going with that special someone. Try not to just hop into any gondola and expect the right ride. Agree in advance concerning the cost and the duration of your trip using the gondolier. Many vacationers happen to be left unhappy after not saying yes on time and money ahead of time. You don't have to pay for greater than $60 an hour or so, and do not allow the gondolier paddle at no time at all to take down leisurely ride to some sprint. Gondolas are for sale to hire at Piazza San Marco.
St Marks Square 
 
St Marks SquareSt Marks Square
Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, is the largest and most important square in Venice. Being the widest swath of flat, open land in a waterborne city, Piazza San Marco has long been an important meeting place for the citizens of Venice and the design showcase for Venice's aristocracy. It is most impressive from its sea approach, a legacy from the centuries that Venice was a powerful maritime republic.
 
Piazza San Marco has famously been called "the drawing room of Europe," a quote attributed to Napoleon. The square is named after the unusual and stunning Basilica San Marco that sits on the east end of the square. The slender Campanile di San Marco, the basilica's bell tower, is one of the square's most recognizable landmarks.

Doge's Palace
Since 1923, the Doge's Palace has been a museum. With its elaborate exterior and interior architecture, grand halls, and priceless paintings by Venetian masters such as Titian and Tintoretto, the Doge's Palace is also one of the top museums in Venice.

The Doge's Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, is one of the top attractions in Venice. This gorgeous Gothic gem on Saint Mark's Square was the residence of the Doge, the erstwhile ruler of Venice, and the headquarters of the Venetian Republic, a city state that existed more than 1,000 years. Learn more about the interesting history of the Doge's Palace

Venice’s doges (dukes) were elected from among their aristocratic peers, after which their whole lives were owned by the state. Venice was all about shimmering exteriors concealing hard-nosed commercial or administrative activity, and the mainly 15th-century Doge’s Palace mirrors this perfectly. Beyond immense meeting halls and formal reception rooms with acres of canvases by Tintoretto and Veronese lie narrow chambers in which city scribes and bureaucrats beavered away in cramped darkness. To see the latter, sign up at least a day in advance via the website for the Itinerari Segreti guided tour (adults, €20; students aged 15-25, children 6-14, €14; includes entrance to rest of palace; English tours at 9.55am and 11.35am), which also takes in the piombi, the attic prison cells from which lover-boy Giacomo Casanova once made a famous escape.

Address: San Marco 1, Piazza San Marco, 30121 -- Contact: 00 39 041 271 5911;www. palazzoducale.visitmuve.it -- Opening times: Apr-Oct: daily, 8.30am-7pm (last entry 6pm). Nov-Mar: daily, 8.30am-5.30pm (last entry 4.30pm)
Prices: entry with Musei di Piazza San Marco ticket: €16; over 65s, students 15-25 and children 6-14, €10; under 5s, free. Families of two adults and at least one child aged 6-18 pay €10 each  -- For Saint Mark's Square Museums Pass, includes 3 other museums. Reduced price for over age 65, be sure to ask at ticket window. Doge's Palace is also included in the 11-museum pass, good for a longer period.


Basilica San Marco
Saint Mark's Cathedral, or Basilica San Marco, is one of the top sights on Piazza San Marco and a prime example of Byzantine architecture.
 
Rialto Bridge 
The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Venice and one of Venice's top attractions. The first of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge is lined with shops and is a gateway to the Rialto Market.
 
Prior to the building of the Rialto Bridge, in the late 16th century, a series of bridges occupied this, the narrowest point across the Grand Canal. Because this bridge was the only place to cross the Grand Canal on foot, it was imperative to construct a bridge that would hold up to heavy use and would also allow boats to pass underneath.
 
Beginning in 1524, artists and architects, including Sansovino, Palladio, and Michelangelo, began submitting blueprints for the new bridge. But no plan was chosen until 1588, when municipal architect Antonio da Ponte was awarded the commission. Interestingly, da Ponte was the uncle of Antonio Contino, architect of Venice's other unmistakable bridge – The Bridge of Sighs.
 
The Rialto Bridge is an elegant, arched stone bridge lined with arcades on each side. The central archway at its pinnacle, accessed via the wide stairs that rise from either side of the bridge, serves as a lookout perch. Under the arcades are numerous shops, many of which cater to the tourists who flock here to see this famous bridge and its views of the gondola-filled waterway of the Grand Canal.
 
Interpreti Veneziani
Venice is awash with bewigged musical ensembles sawing away at Vivaldi. Going strong since 1987, the Interpreti Veneziani are a major cut above most of the competition. Serious musicians play mainly baroque works – including regular renditions of The Four Seasons – with not a period costume in sight, though performers are not above exchanging boisterous high fives after virtuoso passages. Concerts take place most nights (though the frequency falls to three or four a week between November and Carnevale) in the deconsecrated church of San Vidal, which has an exquisite painting of St Vitale on Horseback by Vittore Carpaccio over the main altar. Tickets can be purchased online or at the (free entry) Museo della Musica in the church of San Maurizio (San Marco 2601, Campo San Maurizio) where a collection of period instruments is on display.
Address: Chiesa San Vidal, San Marco 2862b, Campiello San Vidal, 30124
Contact: 00 39 041 277 0561; interpretiveneziani.com Opening times: concerts generally start at 8.30pm, but check the website for details -- Prices: €27; over 65s, under 25s and groups of at least 15 people, €22

La Fenice
Periwigged flunkeys no longer hand ladies from gondola to theatre steps on opening nights as they once did, but Venice's historic opera house is still a marvellously atmospheric place to take in some Verdi or Donizetti. Restored "where it was, as it was" after a devastating fire in 1996, La Fenice is a jewel box of red velvet, ornate gilding and many-faceted chandeliers. This was where Verdi's Rigoletto and La Traviata premiered (the latter flopped on its first night, but the Venetian public later redeemed itself by applauding a second staging at the Teatro San Benedetto). These days, operas from the golden age of Italian opera lirica (for which you'll need to book months in advance) alternate with classical concerts, ballet, and the occasional more contemporary musical soirée. Some events on the calendar are staged at La Fenice's scarcely less sumptuous sister theatre and youth academy, the Teatro Malibran. The main theatre can be visited by day with an audioguide (worth it if you're a real opera buff; booking not necessary): for more information on these visits, see festfenice.com.
Address: San Marco 1965, Campo San Fantin, 30124 Getting there: Vaporetto stop Giglio Contact: 00 39 041 2424; teatrolafenice.it
Opening times: self guided tours: generally daily 9.30am-6pm, but check festfenice.com for variations -- Prices: performances: see details on website. Self-guided audio tours: €9; over 65s and students aged 7-26, €6.50; under 7s, free

Palazzo Grassi
I still feel nostalgic for the days when this imposing 18th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, then owned by Fiat, staged some of Italy's best blockbuster exhibitions on everything from the Etruscans to Futurism. These days, its remit is confined to contemporary art exhibitions – some of them drawing on the huge collection of the palazzo's current owner, French luxury brand magnate François-Henri Pinault (who also leases Punta della Dogana, now Palazzo Grassi's sister venue). Exhibitions at Palazzo Grassi, its interior tweaked in uninvasive, minimalist style by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, have previously run over a year or more and presented a themed selection of Pinault's art acquisitions. But starting with the Rudolf Stingel show in 2013, the Pinault foundation has changed tack, focusing more on single-artist exhibitions running from early April through to the end of December, then closing for three months. The big 2015 show (from April 12) is dedicated to French artist Martial Raysse. Given the already high price of the ticket, it's worth paying the extra €5 for combined entrance to Punta della Dogana.
Venice city break gude Address: San Marco 3231, Campo San Samuele, 30124 Contact: 00 39 041 523 1680; palazzograssi.it Opening times: Mon, Wed-Sun, 10am-7pm Prices: €15; over 65s, students 25 and under, children 12-18, €10; under 12s, free. Combined entry with Punta della

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Everyone’s favourite eccentric art collector, the redoubtable Peggy Guggenheim, assembled a remarkable yet still intensely personal portofolio of modernist and surrealist art, including major works by Picasso, Magritte, Max Ernst (her husband for a while), Giacometti and Jackson Pollock. The display case is equally original: just one storey high, the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal was never finished by the Venetian family that commissioned it. The gardens are lovely, the museum shop is the best in Venice, and the bar/café makes a good lunch or tea stop. It was typical of Peggy to have placed Marino Marini's risqué bronze horse-and-rider sculpture The Angel of the City facing the Grand Canal for all the passing boats to see. What is less well known is that the rider's erect appendage can be unscrewed – and Peggy, it seems, used to do just that to make her intentions clear to young men she fancied. Address: Dorsoduro 704, Fondamenta Venier dei Leoni, 30123 -- Contact: 00 39 041 240 5411; guggenheim-venice.it Opening times: Mon, Wed-Sun, 10am-6pm pricesx4@yahoo.com
 
Punta della Dogana
When this former customs warehouse reopened in June 2009 as the permanent home of the François-Henri Pinault collection, after a top-to-toe rehaul by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it consolidated Venice's growing reputation as a destination not only for Renaissance art, but for the cutting-edge stuff too. Pinault's other Venetian base, Palazzo Grassi, is now an exhibition venue. Which leaves this striking two-storey space, in which Ando's modernist raw concrete volumes play off against the old brick walls and sturdy wooden ceiling beams of the 17th-century bonded warehouse, as a showcase for the French luxury goods magnate's art acquisitions, which tick all the boxes from Damien Hirst to Jeff Koons. Too vast to fit in here all at once, the collection is displayed via a series of long-running curated exhibitions, with the next reshuffle due in the spring of 2015. Given the already high price of the ticket, it's worth paying the extra €5 for combined entrance to Palazzo Grassi.Venice city break guide It's worth paying the extra €5 for combined entrance to Palazzo Grassi.
Address: Dorsoduro 2, Campo della Salute, 30123 Contact: 00 39 041 523 1680; palazzograssi.it Opening times: Mon, Wed-Sun, 10am-7pm Prices: €15; over 65s, students 25 and under, children 12-18, €10; under 12s, free. Combined entry with Palazzo Grassi: €20; concessions €15

In-the-know gondola rides
Through silken waters my gondola glides – and that’ll be €120, please. But although you'd hardly call it a bargain, a ride in a gondola (for up to six people) is all part of the Venice visitor ritual. So choose a gondola and gondolier you like the look of at one of the many stands around the city, make sure you know the going rates (which are set by regulatory body Ente Gondola) and be aware that you're not obliged to go on the gondolier's standard circuit – you can actually use the service as a taxi to get from A to B. I've given the location of the popular starting point of Bacino Orseolo, just north of St Mark's Square; a ride from here will take you through some atmospheric smaller waterways before arriving in the Grand Canal. Don't forget, also, that you can get a gondola ride for just €2 a head by taking one of the large traghetto (ferry) gondolas with two oarsmen that cross the Grand Canal at strategic points – for example between Campo Santa Maria del Giglio (by the Hotel Gritti) and the church of La Salute (daily 9.30am-6pm), or San Samuele and Ca’ Rezzonico (Mon-Sat 8.30am-1.30pm). It’s de rigueur to do the crossing standing up, like the locals.

Address: Bacino Orseolo is a popular starting point. Getting there: gondola pick-up points at many stops. Contact: 00 39 041 528 5075; gondolavenezia.it Opening times: rides available 24/7. Prices: 8am-7pm: €80 for minimum 30-minute ride, €40 for every extra 20 minutes. 7pm-8am: €100 for minimum 35-minute ride ride, €50 for every extra 20 minutes.

Fondazione Vedova 
The long, narrow, cavernous space of this former salt warehouse overlooking the Giudecca canal was recently renovated by star architect Renzo Piano, largely to house a collection of vast, splashy expressionist canvases by 20th-century Venetian artist Emilio Vedova, selectively displayed in a series of curated exhibitons (running generally from late April to late November). Emilio who? Never mind – it’s the display that impresses as much as the works themselves. For once, you stand still, or sit on the floor, and the paintings walk (or rather waltz) past you, thanks to a complex overhead cog and rail mechanism that creaks into action every 90 minutes or so (check times on the website). Another incentive is the fact that on a hot day, the warehouse is wonderfully cool. Recently, temporary exhibitions dedicated to other artists have begun to hog the space and stop the machine, so check the website before you rush here to see the paintings dance. The long, narrow, cavernous space of this former salt warehouse overlooking the Giudecca canal was recently renovated by star architect Renzo Piano.
Address: Dorsoduro 46, Fondamenta Zattere ai Saloni, 30123Getting there: Vaporetto stop Zattere or Salute. Contact: 00 39 041 522 6626; fondazionevedova.org. Opening times: late Apr to late Nov: Mon, Wed-Sun, 10.30am-6pm

Gallerie dell'Accademia
The Accademia is to Venice what the Uffizi is to Florence: a superb repository of the very best of the city's art. Most of it ended up in this civic art academy largely as a result of Napoleonic confiscations from churches and guilds. The gallery has been in a state of flux since 2004, when the fine arts school moved out, freeing up spaces which have finally been restored but which are only gradually being filled. So go with the current flow, and don't trust any guide book's account of what's in which room. One of my favourites is Tintoretto's ghostly Transport of the Body of St Mark – as a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel remarks, "It’s as if these Venetian painters saw things we can’t see anymore". But there's so much else to enjoy: Titian’s moving last painting, La Pietà; Veronese’s OTT Feast in the House of Levi; Giorgione’s mysterious The Tempest; a brace of exquisite Bellinis; and Carpaccio's Life of St Ursula fresco cycle, packed with fascinating narrative detail. Note that your ticket also gains you entry to the wonderful Palazzo Grimani in the Castello district.
Address: Dorsoduro 1050, Campo della Carità, 30123 -- Contact: 00 39 041 522 2247; gallerieaccademia.it -- Opening times: Mon, 8.15am-2pm; Tue-Thu, Sat, Sun, 8.15am-7.15pm; Fri, 8.15am-7.15pm, 8pm-10pm -- Prices: €9; EU students aged 18-25, €6; under 18s, free

Grand Canal tour
Lined with the palazzos of the Venetian ruling classes – many of them now hotels or pricey wedding venues – the lagoon city’s watery main street is one of the highlights of any visit. Its fairy-tale atmosphere is somehow only enhanced by the prosaic vaporetti or waterbuses – numbers 1 or 2 – which are the best ways to cruise the canal, especially if you manage to nab one of the coveted outside seats at the front or back. Number 1 is the reliable, all-year stopping service, taking around 45 minutes between the train station and St Mark's; number 2 does the journey in just under half an hour, but some boats on this line stop at Rialto, and service times are restricted in winter. For the best chance of bagging an outside seat, get on the 1 at Piazzale Roma 'A' jetty (as pinpointed on your app's map), where it starts. The 2 is a circular service, but Piazzale Roma and Ferrovia (the train station stop) are still the best bets as so many people get off here. You also stand a better chance of getting an outside seat if you do the journey after 9pm, when the day-trippers have all returned to the mainland. Halfway down the Grand Canal is the Rialto, the shop-lined 16th-century bridge that became a byword for Venice itself. Other highlights en route from the station to San Marco include the fairy-tale façade of Ca d'Oro, the busy Pescheria or fish market, truncated Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and charmingly lopsided Ca' Dario, said to be cursed (several of it owners have met sticky ends).
Venice city break guide
Lined with the palazzos of the Venetian ruling classes the lagoon city’s watery main street is one of the highlights of any visit.
 
Address: Grand Canal - Contact: Hellovenezia call centre: 00 39 041 24 24; actv.it -- Opening times: line 1: daily, 5am-11pm/midnight. Line 2: varies seasonally, daily from 9am-5pm in winter, to 8.15am-11.15pm in summer
Prices: single ticket for vaporetto ride along the canal €7; journeys included in better-value travel cards
Museo Correr
Entered via a Napoleonic-era ballroom, the Correr is the museum of Venice, its collection designed to illuminate the history and traditions of this most remarkable of cities. A recent reorganisation of the visitor route through the museums of Piazza San Marco means that entrance to this worthwhile collection also now includes the beautifully restored suite of rooms occupied by Austrian Emperor Franz Jozeph and his wife Sissi in the 19th century, the classical statuary of the Museo Archeologico and, as the icing on the cake at the end, Jacopo Sansovino's magnificent 16th-century Biblioteca Marciana, an ornate temple of learning that pays eloquent homage to the legacy of Greece and Rome. Highlights of the main Correr collection include Vittore Carpaccio’s Two Venetian Noblewomen, Antonello da Messina’s Pietà with Three Angels, and Tintoretto's fascinatingly fiscal St Justine and the Treasurers. But the maps, globes, coins, musical instruments and feast-day banners on display here are at least as important, for an understanding of the life and times of the Serene Republic. Note that the Doge's Palace is also included on the same ticket.
Address: San Marco 52, Piazza San Marco, 30124 -- Contact: 00 39 041 2405211; correr.visitmuve.it -- Opening times: Apr-Oct: daily, 10am-7pm. Nov-Mar: daily, 10am-5pm -- Prices: entry with Musei di Piazza San Marco ticket: €16; over 65s, students aged 15-25, children 6-14, €10; children 5 and under, free. Families of two adults and at least one child aged 6-18 pay €10 each
 
Museo Querini Stampalia
If I had to nominate my favourite Venetian museum, it would have to be this fascinating art collection and cultural foundation near Santa Maria Formosa. It's not just because the gallery hung in the ornate rooms of the former Querini family home features one of Giovanni Bellini's most intriguing paintings, the mysterious, solemn Presentation in the Temple, and Hieronymus Bosch’s brilliantly unhinged Vision of the Afterlife. I also love the Pietro Longhi and Gabriele Belli genre scenes of everyday Venetian life in the 18th century, the ground-floor exhibition rooms, and the contemporary garden by 20th-century architectural master Carlo Scarpa, which sits unexpectedly well with the 16th-century palazzo. The café that spills out into the garden is a good place to rest and recharge over a coffee, snack or light lunch.
Address: Castello 5252, Campo di Santa Maria Formosa, 30122 -- Contact: 00 39 041 271 1411; querinistampalia.org -- Opening times: Tue-Sun, 10am-6pm -- Prices: €10; over 65s and students, €8; under 12s, free

Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni
The scuole (schools) were part lay confraternities, part guilds, part charitable foundations, which flourished in medieval and Renaissance Venice. Some were rooted in a craft or profession, others had a common ethnic background. The city's Dalmatian community built itself this neat guild HQ at the beginning of the 16th century, and called on local artist Vittore Carpaccio to decorate it with a cycle of paintings narrating episodes from the life of Dalmatia's three patron saints, George, Tryphon and Jerome. I love the detail in these endlessly fascinating scenes: the elaborate turbans of the onlookers in The Triumph of St George; the little dog looking pleadingly up at his oblivious master in St Augustine in his Study. Much art in Venice is not child-friendly, but these action-packed canvases are an exception, inviting games of I-spy. Carpaccio was a master at capturing the shifting qualities of Venetian light, and he also painted from life: The Calling of St Matthew is set in the Ghetto, exactly as it was in around 1505
Address: Castello 3259a, Calle dei Furlani, 30122 -- Contact: 00 39 041 522 8828 -- Opening times: Mon, 2.45pm-6pm; Tue-Sat, 9.15am-1pm, 2.45pm-6pm; Sun, 9.15am-1pm -- Prices: €5; children 18 and under, €3
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
The Confraternity of St Roch was perhaps the grandest, and certainly the richest, of Venice's many scuole, or civic and charitable brotherhoods. They had so much spare cash that they were able not only to build one of the most imposing confraternity HQs in town, but also to hold a competition to decorate it in 1564. Tintoretto won, by wowing the selection committee with a finished painting rather than the required sketch. He would work on the project for the next 27 years, turning it into his artistic life's work and in the process illustrating almost the entire Bible, from Adam and Eve to Christ's Ascension, in a series of epic-scale canvases arranged on the walls and ceilings of the Scuola's lofty halls. Pick up the free leaflet and follow the order in which the impressionistic 16th-century genius carried out the work by beginning upstairs, in the Sala dell'Albergo, where his Crucifixion has the narrative complexity of a feature film. By the end of the circuit, you may even, like me, have come around to an artist that in certain moods can strike one as the height of kitsch.
Address: San Polo 3052, Campo San Rocco, 30125 -- Contact: 00 39 041 523 4864; scuolagrandesanrocco.it -- Opening times: daily, 9.30am-5.30pm -- Prices: €10; over 65s, 19-26 year olds, €8; children 18 and under, free. Free for all on August 16

Ca d'Oro
The flamboyant Gothic flourishes of this glorious 15th-century Grand Canal palazzo somehow distil the essence of Venice. What we see today is actually a subdued version of the original façade, which was painted red and blue with gold detailing. Inside is the art collection assembled by a former owner, Baron Giorgio Franchetti, its highlight Mantegna’s visionary, unfinished Saint Sebastian from 1506, displayed in a marble-lined chapel built expressly by il barone to house his prize possession. Don't miss the view of the Grand Canal from the first-floor balcony. Check the website under ‘Exhibitions and Events’ for details and dates of themed guided tours in English, which are free with the entrance ticket, and not bookable. Note that credit cards can only be used for online booking.
Address: Cannaregio 3932, Calle di Ca d'Oro, 30121Contact: 00 39 041 5200 345; cadoro.org -- Opening times: Mon, 8.15am-2pm; Tue-Sun, 8.15am-7pm -- Prices: €6; EU students aged 18-25, €3; EU citizens over 65 and under 18, free
 
I Frari
If you visit only one Venetian church aside from St Mark’s, make it this penumbral, echoing Gothic edifice, 15 minutes' walk west of the Rialto. The Franciscan order built their chief Venetian house of worship out of brick and terracotta in their usual unshowy, unextravagant style, but when it came to commissioning great art they put the austerity on hold. I love the serene Giovanni Bellini triptych of the Virgin and Child with assorted saints (1488) on the sacristy altar, but the Frari's standout work for me is Titian's dramatic, dark, intensely spirtual Assumption of the Virgin (1518) over the high altar. The same artist used his own wife (soon to die in childbirth) as the model for the Virgin Mary in the daringly off-kilter Madonna di Ca’ Pesaro in the left aisle. An annual season of in-church concerts, Musica ai Frari, has shifted its dates between spring, summer and autumn in recent years: keep an eye on the (Italian-only) website for this year's dates and details.
Address: San Polo, Campo dei Frari, 30125 Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Tomà -- Contact: 00 39 041 272 8611; basilicadeifrari.it Opening times: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun, 1pm-6pm Prices: €3
 
Madonna dell'Orto
Everybody knows this as 'the Tintoretto church'. Not only because the 16th-century maestro (whose real name was Jacopo Robusti) is buried in his family tomb here, but also because, together with the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, this delicate Gothic church in northern Cannaregio holds some of his most significant Venetian canvases. The Last Judgement is a huge, vertical maelstrom of dark intensity, while his Presentation of the Virgin in the right aisle is a visionary work, the innocent young girl somehow dominating the composition even though other figures tower over her in scale. Far from the tourist hordes, the area around the church is one of my favourite parts of Venice. Look out for the marble relief of a turbaned man with a camel in the wall of Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello opposite – testimony to Venice's long mercantile links with North Africa and the Arab world.
Address: Cannaregio 3512, Campo Madonna dell'Orto, 30121 -- Contact: 00 39 041 719 933; www.madonnadellorto.org Opening times: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, noon-6pm -- Prices: donation appreciated
 
Museo Storico Navale
The might of the Venetian republic was based on its sea power, and the much-overlooked Museo Navale is a tribute to this maritime prowess. It’s a charming collection of seafaring memorabilia. You may not feel moved to study every single scale model of all the fighting and trading ships ever built in the nearby Arsenale, but a quick browse is fascinating,  especially for kids, who are poorly served by most Venetian museums. Peggy Guggenheim’s private gondola with its discreet little cabin and the Doges’ magnificent ceremonial Bucintoro vessel give a flavour of the Venice of the past. On request, the same ticket gets you into the vast Padiglione delle Navi where full-sized Venetian craft are displayed.
Address: Castello 2148, Riva San Biasio, 30122 -- Getting there: Vaporetto stop Arsenale -- Contact: 00 39 041 2441 399; marina.difesa.it/storiacultura -- Opening times: Mon-Fri, 8.45am-1.30pm; Sat, 8.45am-1pm -- Prices: €5; children aged 6-14, students aged 15-25, €3.50

Santa Maria dei Miracoli
A miracle indeed. A first sight of this jewel casket of a church, which is liable to spring upon you unawares as you're trying to navigate a route between San Marco and Fondamente Nove, is enough to stop anyone in their tracks. What makes it so special is the fact that Pietro Lombardo, who designed it in the 1480s, was more a stonemason than an architect. So he approached the whole thing as a piece of sacred sculpture, using polychrome marble to adorn every inch of the exterior and interior. Inside, balustrades and pilasters are alive with graceful marble saints and cherubs, sea monsters and frondy vegetation. Could this be the most beautiful small church in the world? I think so. Note that if you're planning to visit four or more of the 16 Venetian churches that (like this one) are part of the Chorus scheme, it's well worth investing in a €12 Chorus Pass (see the 'Know before you go' section for more details).
Address: Cannaregio, Campo Santa Maria dei Miracoli, 30121 -- Contact: 00 39 041 275 0462; www.chorusvenezia.org -- Opening times: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm -- Prices: €3; children under 10, free
 
Santi Giovanni e Paolo
San Zanipolo, as the Venetians call it, is a vast, echoing barn of a church, built for the Dominicans starting in the mid 13th century, but not finished until 1430. It's not the Gothic fabric that's remarkable so much as the contents. This is one Venetian church where it's worth taking time over some of the exquisite funerary sculpture, like Pietro Lombardo's monument (1476-81) to Doge Pietro Mocenigo on the entrance wall, or the much earlier monument to Doge Marco Cornaro by Nino Pisano, carved in the 1360s with a naive charm and grace. The standout painting is Lorenzo Lotto's St Anthony Giving Alms: note the rich Turkish rug and the very Venetian street scene below. In the square outside the church stands Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio's bronze horse-and rider momument to Renaissance mercenary captain Bartolomeo Colleoni, from the 1480s, of which Ruskin wrote "I do not believe that there is a more glorious work of sculpture existing in the world
Address: Castello 6363, Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, 30122 -- Getting there: Vaporetto stop Ospedale Civile -- Contact: 00 39 041 523 5913; basilicasantigiovanniepaolo.it -- Opening times: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm; Sun, noon-6pm -- Prices: €2.50; students, €1.25
 
Dining & Night life
Wherever you decide to dine, it's vital that you obtain a table outdoors, weather enabling. Your time and effort within the world's most breathtaking city is brief, and is probably flying by already, so you won't want to shut yourself out of the romantic atmosphere that the envelopes Venice. You will find a lot of quality restaurants throughout Venice. This informative guide will reveal a few locations that you cannot miss.
 
Food lovers will find charmingly packaged food products for themselves or friends at the well-known pasta manufacturer Giacomo Rizzo, near the major Coin department store, northeast of the Rialto Bridge at Cannaregio 5778 at Calle San Giovanni Grisostomo (tel. 041-522-2824). You'll find pasta made in the shape of gondolas, colorful carnival hats, and dozens of other imaginatively shaped possibilities (colored and flavored with squash, beet, and spinach).
 
Those with a sweet tooth should head in the opposite direction, to Giancarlo Vio's Pasticceria Marchini, just before Campo Santo Stefano (San Marco 2769 at Ponte San Maurizio; tel. 041-522-9109), where the selection of traditional cookies are beautifully prepackaged for traveling -- delicate baicoli, cornmeal raisin zaleti, and the S-shaped buranelli.
 
Harry's Bar (Calle Vallaresso, San Marco 1323) might be the favourite restaurant in Venice. Hemingway visited district, now you are prone to begin to see the city's upper crust converging here. Order a Bellini with dinner - you will not be disappointed. Taverna la Fenice (Campiello p la Fenice, San Marco 1938) is the best spot to enjoy dinner for 2, because the outside canopy offers the perfect romantic backdrop. La Caravella, (Via XXII Marzo 2398) close to the Fenice Theatre, provides a nice choice of Italian faves, together with an expansive dessert menu. Al Covo (Campiello p la Pescaria, Castello 3968) is near Piazza San Marco. The gnocchi, or potato which consists of dumplings, are magnificent.
 
Linea d'Ombra (Fondamente delle Zattere, Dorsoduro 19) has a few of the more unique dining masterpieces, together with a dish that's created using octopus ink. Harry's Dolci (Fondamento San Biago 773, Isola Della Guidecca) is introduced for you through the same individuals who own these Harry's Bar. It is a little taken care of; however the quaint, simple atmosphere is refreshing.
 
Venice's night life is virtually nonexistent. It is a quiet, charming and romantic hotspot, not one where you can dance with your friends till the wee hours of morning. In the end, with the much beauty surrounding you, why don't you just enjoy exactly what the town needs to offer by enjoying an evening stroll. Pause within the Accademia Bridge to savor the sunset, and stroll through Venice's quiet roads with your beloved. If you like to bop the evening away, Il Piccolo Mondo (Calle Contarini Corfu, Dorsoduro 1056A) is good. Enjoy the unruffled beauty of Venice rather than scouting for the non-existent night clubs and party destinations here. 
 
Shopping
A mix of low-end trinket stores and middle-market-to-upscale boutiques line the narrow zigzagging Mercerie running north between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. More expensive clothing and gift boutiques make for great window-shopping on Calle Larga XXII Marzo, the wide street that begins west of Piazza San Marco and wends its way to the expansive Campo Santo Stefano near the Accademia. The narrow Frezzeria, also west of the piazza and not far from Piazza San Marco, offers a grab bag of bars, souvenir shops, and tony clothing stores.
 
In a city that for centuries has thrived almost exclusively on tourism, remember this: Where you buy cheap, you get cheap. There are few bargains to be had; the nonproduce part of the Rialto Market is as good as it gets, where you'll find cheap T-shirts, glow-in-the-dark plastic gondolas, and tawdry glass trinkets. Venetians, centuries-old merchants, aren't known for bargaining. You'll stand a better chance of getting a bargain if you pay in cash or buy more than one item.

Venice is uniquely famous for local crafts that have been produced here for centuries and are hard to get elsewhere: the glassware from Murano, the delicate lace from Burano, and the cartapesta (papier-mâché) Carnevale masks you'll find in endless botteghe, where you can watch artisans paint amid their wares.
 
Now here's the bad news: There's such an overwhelming sea of cheap glass gewgaws that buying Venetian glass can become something of a turnoff (shipping and insurance costs make most things unaffordable; the alternative is to hand-carry anything fragile). There are so few women left on Burano willing to spend countless tedious hours keeping alive the art of lace-making that the few pieces you'll see not produced by machine in Hong Kong are sold at stratospheric prices; ditto the truly high-quality glass (though trinkets can be cheap and fun). Still, exceptions are to be found in all of the above, and when you find them you'll know. A discerning eye can cut through the dreck to find some lovely mementos.
 
Venice Shopping Strategies -- There are two rules of thumb for shopping in Venice: If you have the good fortune of continuing on to Florence or Rome, shop for clothing, leather goods, and accessories with prudence in Venice, because most items are more expensive here. If, however, you happen on something that strikes you, consider it twice on the spot (not back at your hotel), and then buy it. In this web of alleys, you may never find that shop again.
 
Antiques
The interesting Mercatino dell'Antiquariato (Antiques Fair) takes place three times annually in the charming Campo San Maurizio between Piazza San Marco and Campo Santo Stefano. Dates change yearly for the 3-day weekend market but generally fall the first weekend of April, mid-September, and the weekend before Christmas. More than 100 vendors sell everything from the sublime piece of Murano glass to quirky dust collectors. Early birds might find reasonably priced finds such as Murano candy dishes from the 1950s, Venetian-pearl glass beads older still, vintage Italian posters advertising Campari-sponsored regattas, or antique postcards of Venice that could be from the 1930s or the 1830s -- things change so little here. Those for whom price is less an issue might pick up antique lace by the yard or a singular museum-quality piece of hand-blown glass from a local master.
 
Books
Libreria Studium, San Marco 337 (tel. 041-522-2382), carries lots of travel guides and maps as well as books in English. Two other centrally located bookstores are the Libreria Sansovino, in the Bacino Orseolo 84, just north of the Piazza San Marco (tel. 041-522-2623), carrying a good selection of books about Venetian art, history, and literature; and the Mondadori, San Marco 1346 (tel. 041-522-2193), on Salizzada San Moise, which stocks travel guides and English-language books.
 

For art books and other colorful hardbacks on history and Italian sights to hold down your coffee table at 40% to 50% off, head to Libreria Bertoni Mario, San Marco 3637B (Rio Terrà dei Assassini; tel. 041-522-9583), or Libreria Beronti Alberto, San Marco 4718 (Calle dei Fabbri; tel. 041-522-4615).
 
Crafts
The Murano Art Shop, at San Marco 1232 (on the store-lined Frezzeria, parallel to the western border of, and close to, the Piazza San Marco; tel. 041-523-3851), is a cultural experience. At this small shop, every inch of wall space is draped with the whimsical crafts of the city's most creative artisans. Fusing the timeless with the contemporary -- with a nod to the magic and romance of Venice past -- the store offers a dramatic and evolving collection of masks, puppets, music boxes, costume jewelry, and the like. It's all expensive, but this rivals a visit to the Doge's Palace.
 
When it seems as if every gift-store window is awash with collectible bisque-faced dolls in elaborate pinafores and headdresses, head to Bambole di Trilly, at Castello 4974 (Fondamenta dell'Osmarin, off the Campo San Provolo on your way east out of Piazza San Marco in the direction of the Church of San Zaccaria; tel. 041-521-2579), where the hand-sewn wardrobes of rich Venetian fabrics and painstakingly painted faces are particularly exquisite. The perfect souvenir starts at about 20€ in this well-stocked workspace north of Campo San Zaccaria.
 
Glass
If you're going to go all out, look no further than Venini, Piazetta dei Leoni 314 (tel. 041-522-4045), since 1921 one of the most respected and innovative glassmakers in all of Venice. Their products are more works of art than merely blown glass. So renowned are they for their quality, Versace's own line of glass objets d'art are done by Venini. Their workshop on Murano is at Fondamenta Vetrai 50 (tel. 041-273-7211). Cheap they are not, but no one else has such a lovely or original representation of hand-blown Murano glassware.
 
You should also visit the spacious emporium of quality glass items at Marco Polo (San Marco 1644; tel. 041-522-9295), just west of the Piazza San Marco. The front half of the first floor offers a variety of small gift ideas (candy dishes, glass-topped medicine boxes, paperweights).
 
Glass beads are called "Venetian pearls," and an abundance of exquisite antique and reproduced baubles are the draw at Anticlea, at Castello 4719A (a bit off Campo San Provolo going north on Calle San Provolo; tel. 041-528-6946). Once used for trading in Venice's far-flung colonies, they now fill the coffers of this small shop east of Piazza San Marco, sold singly or already strung. The open-air stall of Susie and Andrea (Riva degli Schiavoni, near Pensione Wildner; just ask) has handcrafted beads that are new, well made and strung, and moderately priced. The stall operates from February through November.
 
Jewelry
Chimento, San Marco 1460 (Campo San Moisè; tel. 041-523-6010; www.chimento.it), carries gold and silver jewelry of their own manufacture as well as items from top international designers, including Faberge.
 
Tiny Antichità Zaggia, Dorsoduro 1195 (Calle della Toletta; tel. 041-522-3159), specializes in genuine antique jewelry (and glassware) of the highest quality and beautiful designs.
 
The jewelers at Esperienze, Cannaregio 326B (Ponte delle Guglie; tel. 041-721-866), marry their own art with the local glass-blowing traditions to create unique pins, necklaces, and other jewelry.
 
Leather & Shoes
One usually thinks of Florence when thinking of Italian leather goods. But the plethora of mediocre-to-refined shoe stores in Venice is testimony to the tradition of small shoe factories along the nearby Brenta canal that supply most of Italy, and much of the world, with made-in-Italy footwear. Venice has plenty of fine shoe stores -- including Bruno Magli, San Marco 1302 (Calle dell'Ascensione; tel. 041-522-7210), and Mori e Bozzi, Cannaregio 2367 (Rio Terrà della Madonna; tel. 041-715-261) -- but one store deserves singling out for sheer oddness. Even if you're not in the market for shoes, stop by Rolando Segalin, San Marco 4365 (Calle dei Fuseri; tel. 041-522-2115), for fantastical footwear in an acid trip of colors and shapes, including curly-toed creations; many are intended for Carnevale costumes.
 
Linens & Lace
Frette, San Marco 2070A (Calle Larga/Via XXII Marzo; tel. 041-522-4914; www.frette.com), is another long-respected place to head for classy linens, bedclothes, and silk jammies. They'll even do custom work for you.
 
For hand-tatted lace from the only school still teaching it in Venice, ride out to Burano to visit the Scuola dei Merletti, Piazza B. Galuppi (tel. 041-730-034), founded in 1872, closed in 1972, and reopened in 1981. (Note: The Scuola dei Merletti and the museum are closed for restoration until mid-2010.)
 
Masks
A shortage of mask bottegas in Venice is not a problem; the challenge is ferreting out the few exceptionally talented artists producing one-of-a-kind theatrical pieces. Only the quality-conscious should shop at La Bottega dei Mascareri (San Polo 80 -- at the northern end of the Rialto Bridge amid the tourist booths; tel. 041-522-3857), where the charming Boldrin brothers' least elaborate masks begin at about 20€. Anyone who thinks a mask is a mask is a mask should come here first for a look-see.
 
Not only does Il Canovaccio, Castello 5369-70 (Calle delle Bande; tel. 041-521-0393), produce high-quality artisan work, but it's undeniably cool. Rolling Stone guitarist Ron Wood has shopped here, and the shop provided the masks and costumes for the orgy scene in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
 
Paper Products
Biblos, with shops in San Marco at 739 (Mercerie San Zulian), 2087 (Via XXII Marzo), and 221 (Mercerie de l'Orolorgio; tel. 041-521-0714; www.biblos-venezia.com), carries leather-bound blank books and journals, marbleized paper, enamel pill boxes, watercolor etchings, and fountain pens.
 
Wine
For a broad selection of wines from the Veneto and across Italy at truly decent prices, head to Bottiglieria Colonna, Castello 5595 (Calle della Fava; tel. 041-528-5137), which will put together gift packets of wines in packs of six, and also handles liqueurs from around the world. There's a more down-to-earth cantina called Nave de Oro, Cannaregio 4657 (Rio Terrà dei SS. Apostoli; tel. 041-522-7872), where locals bring empty bottles to have them filled with a variety of Veneto table wines at low, low prices -- 1.80€ to 2.30€ per liter.



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