Venice Stories and Tips

Venice Overview and Highlights

The Grand Canal Photo, Venice, Italy

Venice is a city that says adventure and sailing to distant lands. From the 13th-15th centuries it was one of the most luxurious cities in Europe and a great trading empire with the Orient. Today it is a city like no other - intriguing, disorienting and exhilarating. As Henry James said "a visit to Venice becomes a perpetual love affair."

Venice works on so many levels and makes you feel as if you have escaped the everyday. It is a strange, alluring city of gently crumbling grandeur. A place for fantasy and forgetting - there is nowhere better to get away from it all.

Central Venice is divided by the 2.5 mile long Grand Canal. Its 118 islands are separated by approximately 170 canals and connected by 430 footbridges. Only 3 bridges cross the Grand Canal - the Ponte dei Scalzi outside the train station, the Ponte Rialto - made of elegant white marble and by far the most recognisable and the wooden Ponte Accademia.

We brought our 4 year old son along to Venice. The city is magical not just for adults, but also for children. Where else can you cross 20 bridges in one day? Ride a water bus or catch a taxi that is actually a speedboat? Our son had such a great time exploring the labryinth of streets, squares, shimmering canals and endless bridges.

We adored this city but our main highlights were:

* Arriving by water taxi - not the cheapest way to get to your destination, but without doubt the most stylish and the most fun. We got a water taxi from the train station to our hotel on the lagoon - it was the most amazing introduction to this fabulous city and I highly recommend it.

* Standing on the terrace of St Marks Basilica by the famous horses and looking down on St Marks Square below - one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

* Taking a waterbus and travelling the full length of the Grand Canal - drinking in the marvellous views of the faded palazzi, the gondolas, the Rialto bridge and more....

* Taking a gondola ride along the more quiet canals at dusk - touristy and overpriced but unforgettable.

* Wandering along the streets and getting lost, coming upon the beautiful squares by chance, browsing in the shop windows and losing track of time.

* Watching the boats and comings and goings on the lagoon and the other canals and marvelling at how everything in this city arrives, leaves and travels by water - suitcases, laundry, rubbish and even a bride!!

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