Water taxis, gondolas, gorgeous and pristine pastel buildings all along the grand canal of Venice is surreal and fantastic. It’s a bucket-list item for many people. While the sun is shining on the tourists and locals, the wind blows soft breezes through your hair as you peek out of your water taxi to absorb the sensations of all things Italiano. Venice is chic, colorful, historic and something of a mystery as you know the city is sinking below the water. That makes it all the more compelling. Time is of the essence in seeing this historical, storybook city.
While the water taxis are a very quintessential way of traversing the Grand Canal, make it a point to budget for a gondola ride (approximately $100) during your stay in Venice.
The Venice Kette Hotel is located off the main square and accessible to not only shopping and dining but also St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Doges Palace. You can meet guides at the Porta Della Carta in St. Mark’s Square. Tour guides will teach you about the history lurking behind the walls of the most famous landmarks of Venice: the Basilica with its Byzantine heritage and the Doge’s Palace and its prisons.
St.Mark’s Cathedral has staggering historic information and some legendary info, too. Reportedly, in 828, merchants from Venice stole the remains of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria, Egypt. Legend has it that they smuggled the body past guards by concealing the remains of St. Mark under layers of pork in barrels. A storm in the sea nearly drowned the grave robbers. Allegedly, St. Mark came to the captain in a vision instructing them to lower the sails of their vessel, thus saving the ship. The merchants, consequently, owed their safety and rescue to the miracle of St. Mark. (following photos from internet)
The Doge’s Palace: Children and parents, both, will be fascinated with a tour of this palace of Gothic architecture. Architectural details like “lacy patterns of pink Verona marble and graceful arching windows” will please the tourist studying the “cornice of merlons and spires.” The history and decor of this grand palace will delight young children as well as their parents. The adjoining prisons give insight into what the prisoners and criminals viewed as they left their chambers to meet their judges and justice. The Doge’s Palace overlooks the Grand Canal and Piazetta. The Porta della Carta, which is the main entrance linking the palace to St. Mark’s Basilica is considered one of the two most perfect examples of Venetian Gothic architecture. Be sure to study the art of Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling before the Lion of St. Mark.You will learn how a city built on swamps became one of the most illuminated and cultivated cities of the western world. The labyrinthine passages and alleyways through the meandering canals under intricate bridges beckon you into the magic of Venice. Famous Venetians, like Marco Polo and Casanova, contributed to the mystique of Venice.
Shopping and dinner: Glamorous shopping, Murano glass blown art, delicious gelato and masquerade masks are authentic Venetian items to buy. The Tom Ford black sunglasses I bought there six years old are still my daily go-to shades. Everything about Venezia screams high-quality and luxurious. The restaurants showcasing the finest Italian cuisine are ambient, cozy and chic. Try a unique meal of pasta in squid ink finished off with the more familiar tiramisu and cappuccino. Here’s a photo I took of my husband with his squid-ink pasta.
- there’s enough mosaic in St. Mark’s Basilica to cover 1.5 football fields!
- many of the Basilica’s treasures came from Constantinople and the Crusades.
- The Palace d’ Oro is a Byzantine altar screen of gold that is encrusted with gems: 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 400 garnets, 300 sapphires, 100 amethysts, rubies and topazes. It is so impressive, some may find that it rivals the Tower of London!
(photo by Patrick)