Venice isn’t just romantic. It isn’t just filled with art treasures. It doesn’t merely host an array of the finest architecture, villas and palaces. It is all this and more. Much, much more.
St. Mark’s Basilica is just one example among so many. This church is the rival of St. Peter’s in Rome. Not as large and not so grand, but still an amazing work that remains among the finest anywhere.
Outside the Basilica di San Marco is the Campanile that served as its bell tower. More than just a place to call the faithful, it also was a military lookout that helped keep Venice safe during perilous times. Today, it has a more aesthetic purpose, one that is the delight of travelers to this amazing city.
Hosting them both, along with other sights, is the Piazza. St. Mark’s square is both a premier gathering place and stellar sight all its own. It houses a magnificent clock tower, provides access to the Doge’s Palace and lends Venice grace and charm. It does all this, unlike many other public squares, in the fortunate absence of traffic and auto noise.
But, of course, Venice is best known for other things, such as its canals and gondola rides. Whether boating lazily down the Grand Canal, the city’s main waterway, or along one of the dozens of secondary channels, visitors can get an excellent view of much of the city.
Along the Grand Canal there is the Rialto and the other main bridges that cross it. Whether moving up it by vaporetto, or in one of the lovely gondolas, some of the best views of the many palaces on its shores are available from this vantage point.
For example, one can gain easy access to the loggia of the Ca’ d’Oro – The Golden House – from the canal. Palazzo Grassi is only a short vaporetto ride away. Either can serve as an outstanding example of Venetian architecture.
Still more samples, in very different styles, are only a short boat ride away: the Villas of Venice. Villa Pisani was begun in the early 1700s and modeled on Versailles in Paris. La Rotunda, one of the many creations of the world-famous architect Palladio, is not far away. Padova holds many others, such as the Villa Cornaro and the Villa Contarini-Camerini.
Several islands are also only a short trip outside the main city. Murano offers the famed glass works of Venice’s artisans, whose skills have been renowned in this art for centuries. Burano offers a museum dedicated to the lace that craftsmen here have been astounding the world with for just as long.
Visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and see a large collection of works of the master Renaissance painter Tintoretto. See many more by others at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Go to La Fenice and see all the arts of Venice – painting, architecture and opera – all in one spot.
Come for the two weeks before Lent and become a theater performer yourself by participating in Carnevale. You’ll go home with a mask you may want never to remove. The people of Venice are beautiful. But, the treasures they live with will bring on a smile that will outlast any cast in ceramic.