Venice Journals

We Open In Venice...

Best of IgoUgo

A November 2006 trip to Venice by Liam Hetherington

Sunset Salute Photo, Venice, Italy More Photos
Quote: "What news on the Rialto?" In search of the drama and culture of the world's most theatrically implausible city. Suspension of disbelief essential!

We Open In Venice...

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Sunset Salute Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
Venice is the most implausible, impossible, fantastical city in the world. The entire place is like a gigantic film set, or maybe a decrepit 18th-century theatre, all faded pastels and decayed surfaces. I certainly felt like a child in a dress-up box as my head recreated scenes form films as diverse as Casino Royale, Don't Look Now, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yet it is Venice itself that is the star.There are the three holy trinity of sites that everyone sees - St Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace, and then over the bridge to the Accademia. And indeed these are must-sees. But there are so many other things to investigate. Into Modern Art? Try the Peggy Guggenheim collection. ...Read More

Attractions

The Grand Canal

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "A Ride on the Grand Canal"

The Rialto Bridge Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
A trip down the Grand Canal is the perfect introduction to Venice, whether you are being chauffered with your loved one by a gondolier, sailing a yacht up it (sadly illegal unless you are filming a Bond film), or just cramming onto the vaporetto from the train station down to St Mark's. The vaporetto, the public transport equivalent of Metro, Tube, or Subway, gives you an unprecedented look at the wonders of Venice's main thoroughfare.The palazzi you see were designed to present their most ostentatious faces to the canal to impress and overawe their rivals and lessers. As a result they reach heights of splendour such as the Moorish patterning of the Ca'd'Oro, reflecting the Doge's Palac...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

The Grand Canal
Through the Central Districts
Venice, Italy

St. Mark's Square/Piazza San Marco

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Piazza San Marco"

St. Mark's Square/Piazza San Marco Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
Truly the heart of Venice is the Piazza San Marco, St Mark's Square. The city's greatest church—the Basilica of St Mark—and the Palace of the Doges is situated around the square and its smaller offshoot, the Piazzetta. Napoleon himself described the square as "The finest drawing room in Europe".This statement should not be seen as an uncritical one however—it describes the lethargy and irrelevance that Venice had drifted into by the turn of the 19th century. A place to relax, yes, to chat and plan, yes; not a place for action. This can be seen today in the patrons supping at their over-priced coffees in the Caffes Florian, Quadri, and Lavena; the tourists slowly craning their necks up at the m...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

St. Mark's Square/Piazza San Marco

Venice, Italy 30124

Saint Mark's Basilica

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "St. Mark's Basilica"

Saint Mark's Basilica Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
In the Byzantine style the Basilica of San Marco squats over its Piazza, a glamorous visitor from another world. A visit is quite-rightly seen as the highlight of any visit to Venice.When I visited in November you entered via a catwalk - the waters of the lagoon had started to rise. The piazza was speckled with water forcing its way up through the drains, and inside the marble flooring of the narthex was slick and shiny with moisture. Appropriately enough mosaics of Noah and the flood, amongst other Old Testament scenes, are overhead. Once into the nave you are dazzled by gold. The domes, the arches, the walls, all have Byzantine style mosaics against a rich gilt background. It fe...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Saint Mark's Basilica
Piazza San Marco
Venice, Italy 30124
+39 0415225205

Doge's Palace/Palazzo Ducale

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Palazzo Ducale"

Doge's Palace/Palazzo Ducale Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
Adjoining the Basilica stands the cornerstone of temporal power in Venice - the Palazzo Ducale. The stunning pink-patterned building with its ornate arches was described by John Ruskin as "the central building of the world", and consider how many buildings of the 14th-century still survive that were not constructed by church or king, but by republic. Admittedly the republic was a place where, in Joe Strummer's words, "all the power's in the hands of the people rich enough to buy it". But then was it not ever thus?After nosing around the exterior of the palazzo (in particular check out the column moulding by the bridge depicting The Drunkenness of Noah), head into the palace. The central courty...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 21, 2007

Doge's Palace/Palazzo Ducale
Piazza San Marco
Venice, Italy 30124
+39 0415224951

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Chiesa e Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore"

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
From the Piazzale a church can be seen, seemingly floating upon the surface of the lagoon. This church is that of San Giorgio Maggiore (St. George the Greater). Situated on its own speck of land its greatest claim to fame is its campanile, from which fabulous views of Venice can be obtained.Construction of the present church commenced in 1565 to the designs of the great Vicenzan architect Andrea Palladio. The neo-classical frontage, complete with Corinthian columns, in white Istian marble, and the symmetry of the church are all keynotes of Palladio's style. Inside there is a panoply of paintings by Domenico and Jacopo Tintoretto, including a Last Supper flanking the altar, and a nativity by Ja...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
Island of San Giorgio Maggiore
Venice, Italy 30100
+39 0415289900

Gallerie dell Accademia

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
Crossing the wooden Ponte dell' Accademia from the southern tip of San Marco takes you to the pre-eminent depository of Venetian art, the Gallerie dell' Accademia. This is a local collection, not the world-spanning variety you might see at the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St Petersburg or the National Gallery in London. It is perforce somewhat parochial. But the fortunes of Venice could, in their heyday, buy in the very best!In my opinion the earlier, brighter works on display - the Veneziano icons, the brilliant Bellinis - are far superior to the dark oppressive 17th-century works that Venice is replete with, the Tintorettos and Titians. However I must give a mention to Veronese's 'L...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 19, 2007

Gallerie dell Accademia
Campo della Carita
Venice, Italy 30130
+39 (041) 5222247

Chiesa del SS. Redentore

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
A third of the population of Venice - around 50,000 people - died over 1575-76. To give thanks for the passing of the plague the Senate voted funds for the construction of a church to mark their redemption. Situated on the northern side of Giudecca, looking out towards Venice, that church came to be known as 'Il Redentore'. Every year since then during the Festa del Redentore a pontoon bridge from the Zattere on Dorsuduro has been built - originally to allow the Doge and senators to keep the city pox-free, now for the mayor to entertain the tourists. It is now celebrated on the third Sunday of July. This festival is featured in a scene of the novel 'Eustace and Hilda' by L.P.Hartley, where the jaded E...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 19, 2007

Chiesa del SS. Redentore
Giudecca, 195
Venice, Italy 30100
+39 0415231415

Basilica di S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
The Frari is one of the two monster churches of Venice, the other being San Zanipolo. Erected at the wishes of the Franciscan order in the fourteenth-century, the brick construct is nothing much to look at externally. However, it holds within it some fascinating works of religious art.Any list of artwork of note would have to start off with Titian's 'Assumption', the first altarpiece to be set in portrait rather than landscape format. Mary floats up towards a warmly glowing heaven, the crowd below straining to touch her feet. To its left in the Capella Corner you will find what the Rough Guide describes as the 'superbly vivid' (ain't that the truth!) 'St Mark Enthroned' by Bartolomeo Vivarini....Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Basilica di S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
S. Polo, 3072
Venice, Italy 30124
+39 0415222637

Ca' Rezzonica

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "Ca' Rezzonico"

Ca' Rezzonica Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
The eighteenth century saw Venice's last brilliant flourish before it faded into irrelevancy at the hands of Napoleon. The city's Museo del Settecento Veneziano provides an interesting look at the lives enjoyed by Venice's mega-rich. Modesty clearly got you nowhere in society in those days - heroic mythic allegories relating to advantageous marriages and portraits of Papal kinsmen were all the rage. Some of the works on display are truly breathtaking - frescos brought from the home of the artistic Tiepolo family, Pietro Longhi cartoons of Venetian life, the only two canal views by Canaletto on show to the public in Venice (the bulk of the remainder were snapped up by gentlemen of great taste d...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Ca' Rezzonica
Fondamenta Rezzonico, Dorsoduro 3136
Venice, Italy

Murano

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Murano Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
The island of Murano sits to the north-east of Venice itself. Almost a miniature of Venice it comes complete with a Grand Canal, at least one outstanding church, and the inevitable tourists. But one thing above all attracts them - glass. In 1291 Venice's glass furnaces were moved to Murano to contain the risk of fires. Already Venice had achieved a reputation as the paramount site for glass artifice. Practically imprisoned on Murano, the craftsmen whose wares brought such high prices were allowed to marry into nobility and wear swords, but were forbidden from leaving the island for fear that they might take the secrets of their art with them. Their legacy lives on today. The main route...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Murano
Glass-blowing island
Venice, Italy

Eating & Drinking

Al Vecio Portal

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
The winding alleyways of Castello are wonderfully atmospheric when devoid of tourists. If San Marco yearns with intensity for the tourist dollar, here in Castello, just a few steps from Riva Degli Schiavoni, you get to see life more as it is lived by the remaining inhabitants of Venice. An old lady in a coat tottering down an enclosed alley. Burly men spilling from the doorway of an enoteca, raucous Italian echoing around a small square. Two women in headscarves sat gossiping on the benches before San Giovanni In Bragora. The €16 set menu advertised outside this cosy little trattoria drew me in, warm amber light being thrown from the window across the angular old masonry of the Campiello. ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 14, 2007

Al Vecio Portal
Campiello della Pescheria
Venice, Italy
+39 (041) 5287765

Taverna San Trovaso

Restaurant

Taverna San Trovaso Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
The Taverna San Trovaso does fast food - and they mean fast. I entered, was seated, served a fresh piping hot pizza, and was moved out again within thirty minutes. A mere hop, skip and a jump from the Accademia this is an ideal place for a quick lunch to recharge you before another afternoon of frantic sightseeing.The service was a tad brusque, but the place was full, even at the tail end of November. While it looks like a hidden rustic nook from the exterior it is definitely on the tourist trail - Yorkshire and Estuary accents predominated. Maybe not surprisingly - I headed here after noticing it in my Rough Guide, one of the nearest marked restaurants to the Accademia. The food is no...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 14, 2007

Taverna San Trovaso
Fondamenta Priuli
Venice, Italy
+39 520 3703

Bistrot de Venise

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Le Bistrot de Venise"

Bistrot de Venise Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
I am going to propose in Venice. And I am going to propose in le Bistrot de Venise.What a superb restaurant. For someone who inclines more to the budget and economy sectors when travelling, let me just say that if you are intending to have a blowout in Venice, or if you have a certain special someone in your life, this is the place to take them.Upon entering it is clear that this is not going to be a cheap meal. As you might spot from the name, the atmosphere aims more towards an upscale French bistro. Modern art on the walls, subdued classical music, waiting staff in black tie, and dressed up couples holding hands between courses. Across from my table the restaurant's award-wi...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 14, 2007

Bistrot de Venise
San Marco 4685 Calle Dei Fabbri
Venice, Italy
+39 (041) 523 66 51

Ristorante Dalla Mora Photo, Venice, Italy
Quote:
The Ristorante Dalla Mora is located right on the main drag of Murano, opposite the Fondamenta dei Vetrai, and just down from the Campo San Stefano. Its website (www.ristorantedallamora.com) proudly boasts of its speciality in fish dishes and seasonal specialities. This is not just a typical feed-em-and-get-rid-of-em tourist trap though, despite its location in the midst of Murano's glass salesrooms. I went for Sunday lunch and found that the interior was full already of a loud, good-natured Italian party. They obviously knew the food here would be good. I was hence relegated to a table outside overlooking the canal. It was a bit chilly for external ea...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Ristorante Dalla Mora
Fondamenta Manin 75
Venice, Italy
+39 (041) 5274 606

Dai Peochi

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
There are a plethora of eateries located down the length of the Strada Nova, Venice's 'main street' that stretches from the train station and the Lista di Spagna down to San Marco. I'm not entirely sure what drew me to Dai Peochi. I only knew that, after a day trip to Padua I wanted to find somewhere to eat before San Marco. I wandered up to the Ghetto and back down again studying menus and looking for something where I wasn't paying 'stupid tourist tax'. The menu here looked inviting with its mix of pastas, fish and meat, and though I walked on a further five minutes I didn't see anything to top it, so I retraced my steps.I opted to sit inside the small simple dining room rather than on one o...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 14, 2007

Dai Peochi
Cannaregio
Venice
+39 041 721 555

Osteria Antico Giardinetto

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
Memo to self: IgoUgo users put time and effort into their recommendations. Use them.By my last night in Venice I had dined in Castello, Dorsuduro, San Marco, Cannaregio and Murano, so I thought it was time to try somewhere in the San Polo/Santa Croce area. I took details of a couple of restaurants that looked decent from the reviews (Trattoria Alla Madonna and Paradiso Perduto), but when I found them they didn't look that prepossessing. So I thought I'd wander and find somewhere that took my fancy. There then followed a classic instance of getting lost in Venice - I thought I was heading west towards the Frari; instead I ended up north of San Cassiano. After half an hour of aimless wanderings ...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on February 19, 2007

Osteria Antico Giardinetto
Calle Dei Morti, Santa Croce 2253
Venice 30135
+39 (0)41 722882

Fiddler's Elbow

Attraction | "The Fiddler's Elbow"

Quote:
Yes, I know. I have been outspoken before out my hatred of faux-Irish Pubs wherever they may be, from the Andes to Andorra, from Cambridge to Cologne. However, sometimes you have to get your priorities straight - Manchester United were playing Chelsea and I needed to find somewhere likely to show the football.The Fiddler's Elbow, just off the Strada Nova near the Ca' d'Oro has the usual characteristics of an Irish Pub, which you can take as positives or negatives as you wish - a largely Anglophone clientele, Guinness posters on the walls, battered little tables crammed into nooks, and televisions tuned to sports channels. The youthful crowd were friendly, comprised of students, the odd married...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Fiddler's Elbow
Campo già Testori
Venice, Italy
+39 (041) 5239930

Sleeping

Hotel Mercurio

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel

Quote:
I hesitate to recommend this hotel. Not that it is bad - far from it. It's just that I want this to remain my hidden secret. An en suite room, less than three minutes walk from St Mark's Square, and about six from the Rialto, for under £40 a night? I have to be joking right?Not at all. Just off the square fronting La Fenice a doorway leads to red-carpetted stairs. My room featured a big double bed, wardrobe, TV, and an ensuite complete with sink, toilet, shower and bidet. The furniture was styled to resemble 18th-century stylings with curlicues. The reception staff/owners are friendly and helpful. There is a full complimentary breakfast - cereal, juice, hot drinks, pastries, yogurts, fruit...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 18, 2007

Hotel Mercurio
Calle del Fruttariol
Venice, Italy
+39 (041) 5220947