You can’t trust anyone who doesn’t think that Venice is one of the most enchanting cities in the whole world; it even has “nice” in its name! Although 13 different places around the globe share the same name, you know we’re talking about THE Venice, the one in Italy. Since one day is not enough to take in all of Venice’s allure, Connolly Cove has prepared an in-detail travel guide for those who want to indulge in the full Venice experience.
How to Enjoy Your Stay in Venice to the Max
If you ask people to define “having fun“, you will get various answers. However, Venice will still be a great destination since it has hundreds of ways to make your vacation unforgettable, no matter how you prefer to spend it.
Venice’s Must-See Attractions and Best Activities
La Serenissima was featured in plenty of films, including Casino Royale (2006), Casanova (2005), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and The Italian Job (2003), which is why most of the city’s attractions will look so familiar to any movie buff. However, visiting those sites in person hits so different.
If you’re craving a dose of local knowledge on the city’s most iconic landmarks, then you absolutely should check out: Your Guide to the Complete Venice Experience! That being said, the Floating City offers a plethora of other exciting experiences that go beyond sightseeing.
Explore the Charming City on a Gondola
Venetians are obsessed with azure waters. You can notice that almost the whole city is a bunch of small islands connected with canals, which is why Venice is all about the Gondolas. The real Venice experience can only be completed with a gondola trip. The gondolier will row you through the maze of canals, revealing hidden corners of the city that you might miss on foot.
Taking a gondola trip in Venice is like stepping into a love story where you are the main character. As you pass through the canals, you will be able to admire the city’s gorgeous architecture up close. You will see centuries-old palaces, majestic churches, and renowned bridges.
Get Lost in the Castello District
The Castello district of Venice is actually the largest one, and it got its name from the castle that was built here way back during the Roman period. It’s situated on the eastern side of town, and it’s a real hotbed of historical and cultural gems! You’ve got the Arsenale di Venezia, which used to be the bee’s knees, the biggest shipyard on the planet one day!
You’ll also come across The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a museum of modern art nestled in a stunning palazzo on the Grand Canal. The museum is a real treasure trove, showcasing masterpieces by great artists such as Picasso, Dalí, and a whole host of other big names in the art world.
While wandering in the Castello district, make sure to get some gelato, then stop by The Church of San Zaccaria, a stunning church built in the 12th century. Among the many notable works of art housed in the church is Titian’s Madonna and Child.
Snap Vibrant Pictures With Burano’s Colourful Houses in the background
You can think of Burano as a small town with delightful houses bursting with vivid colours. It’s the perfect spot to take cool pics and reels, try traditional Venetian food, and conquer the waters on a Vaporetto—this is how Italians say “water bus”.
Legend has it that the clever fishermen decided to give their houses a fashionable makeover to make them recognisable from afar while they were getting back home with the big catches. These colours have really stolen the show and put this island in the top 10 colourful cities worldwide!
Additionally, you should include visiting the Lace Museum on your “to-do in Burano” list. Throughout the ages of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, ladies had a real knack for flaunting their attire, bedecked with the most exquisite lace imaginable. So, Countess Adriana Marcello founded the Lace School in 1872 to maintain a centuries-old tradition. In 1981, it was transformed into a museum, and today, it’s a major attraction in Burano.
Off-the-Beaten-Path Gems You Can’t Miss in Venice
While exploring the enchanting city of Venice, one may stumble upon hidden gems that offer extraordinary experiences beyond the well-known attractions. Calling all culture enthusiasts! If you’re yearning for an authentic taste of Venice, you have to go for the following sites:
Libreria Acqua Alta
It smells vintage, looks messy, feels warm, and inspires not only readers but also everyone with a sense of beauty. The floating bookshop Libreria Acqua Alta is a stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge. The bookshop is well-known for its unique book storage system, which includes stacking volumes high in the store’s windows and on special shelves designed to withstand flooding.
Libreria Acqua Alta is not only renowned for its vast collection of books but also for its delightful feline residents that add an extra touch of cuteness to the cosy atmosphere. The cats are given the freedom to explore the bookstore at their leisure, creating a delightful ambience for visitors who can capture memorable moments by taking photos with them.
The Secret Staircase
Even if climbing stairs is not your thing, you will want to make an exception for La Scala Contarini del Bovolo, or the Secret Staircase. The remarkable structure was built during the 15th century by the esteemed Contarini family, who held immense power and prominence within La Serenissima.
The exquisite staircase is constructed from the finest white Istrian stone, exuding an air of sophistication. Its elegant spiral design ascends four floors, leading to an amazing belvedere that offers unparalleled vistas of the magnificent cityscape.
Visitors interested in Venetian history, fashion, or fragrances should not miss the Mocenigo Palace-Museum. The palace was built in the 16th century for the Mocenigo family, one of the most powerful families in Venice at the time. At a later date, it was transformed into a fascinating museum that displays a dazzling collection of 16th-18th century garments, fabrics, and fragrances.
The costume collection is undeniably one of the most awe-inspiring and remarkable in the entire world. With a unique collection of over 10,000 garments, ranging from elegant dresses to sophisticated suits and complemented by a wide array of accessories, this fashion destination is sure to captivate any style enthusiast. Silk, velvet, and lace are just a few of the fabrics used to create these clothes, and they are decorated with intricate embroidery, jewels, and feathers.
Additionally, with an impressive collection of over 20,000 exquisite pieces of fabric, ranging from tapestries that tell tales of ancient civilisations to carpets and rugs that could make Aladdin’s magic carpet blush with envy.
Situated on the Grand Canal, Palazzo Barbaro has been a popular tourist destination for centuries. The Italian term “palazzo” literally translates to “palace,” and this building certainly lives up to its name. Many notable people have stayed there throughout the years, from the English poet Lord Byron to the American painter John Singer Sargent.
Palazzo Barbaro is an exquisite pair of adjoining palaces that were constructed during the 15th and 17th centuries and have served as the prestigious residences for Venice’s most esteemed and influential families, including the Barbaro family, who gave the palaces their name. The palaces are renowned for their spectacular architecture, seamlessly blending the fantastic elements of the Venetian Gothic and Baroque styles.
The Gothic palace is the older of the two, boasting a truly remarkable four-storey façade adorned with lovely ogival arches and loggias. The Baroque palace is truly magnificent, boasting an impressive size and exquisite ornamental details. One of its most captivating features is a grand central staircase adorned with an amazing frescoed ceiling that will leave you in awe.
The place is quite an art celebrity, featured on the canvas of renowned painters like John Singer Sargent and Claude Monet. A tour in this place will transport you to a vintage era of grandeur, opulence, and splendour.
The Most Remarkable Festivals of La Serenissima
A boring routine is not a thing in Venice. The city offers a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of festival seasons, where the air is filled with excitement and the atmosphere is alive with fascination. Luckily, the calendar is brimming with an abundance of lively festivals, just waiting to be explored and experienced.
Venice is called the “City of Masks” because of this vivid festival. Every year in February, people get the chance to embrace their creativity, wear exotic costumes, and celebrate joyfully in the streets. And no, it’s not exactly like Halloween. The origins of the Carnival of Venice have a rich history that dates back to the 11th century. It was originally a time for people to let loose and enjoy themselves before the start of Lent.
The masquerade ball is undoubtedly the most sought-after and outstanding event during the Carnivale. People dress up in elaborate costumes and masks and attend balls held in palaces and other grand venues. The balls are a great place to dance, raise a glass, and be merry.
Another activity that really takes the cake during the Carnival is the costumed parade. People don their finest threads and hit the streets of Venice, parading in all manner of getups. Those parades are a sight for sore eyes, showcasing the cat’s whiskers when it comes to creativity and imagination.
Venice Film Festival
The Venice Film Festival is where the silver screen’s glitz and glamour collide with the Venetian canals’ beauty. This prestigious event has been around since the dawn of cinematic time (well, almost), making it one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals on earth. The grand spectacle unfolds like clockwork every year as summer bids adieu and autumn tiptoes in. In 2023, the festival is expected to run from August 30th to September 9th, and there will be a total of 23 competing films.
From its humble beginnings in 1932, when Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata founded the festival with the intention of promoting Italian cinema, the festival has rapidly evolved into a globally renowned film festival of utmost significance. The festival has been the springboard for countless cinematic gems and visionary directors, paving the way for the likes of Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Quentin Tarantino.
The festival is renowned for its unique programming, divided into two sections: the Competition and the Out of Competition. The Competition section showcases an impressive lineup of films that are eagerly contending for the prestigious Golden Lion, the festival’s most coveted and esteemed award. The Out of Competition section showcases exceptional films that, while not competing, are still recognised for their high quality.
The Venice Film Festival is an industry highlight. It serves as a platform for directors to showcase their best work, for stars to shine, and for moviegoers to discover new films. Making professional relationships in the film business is another wonderful benefit of attending the festival.
The Regata Storica is a real blast from the past, a regatta that goes down in Venice on the first Sunday of September. The origins of the Regata Storica may be traced back to the 13th century. Originally, it was a method for the Republic of Venice, known as La Serenissima back then, to demonstrate its naval superiority. The Regata Storica has evolved into a treasured tradition for local Venetians and a major draw for visitors to the city.
If you are lucky enough to be in Venice at that time, you will be able to watch a vibrant parade of boats, elegant gondolas adorned with mascarons, and a splendid array of traditional Venetian vessels, gliding on the shimmering waters of the Grand Canal. After the magnificent parade, the excitement continues to surge as a thrilling series of races takes centre stage, including single sculls, double sculls, and fours.
Which Dishes You Should Try in Venice
Who can argue that Italian cuisine is among the most irresistible cuisines around the world? It is a fact that Italians know how to dress, flirt, and eat. So, when you finally find yourself in Venice, do yourself a favour and try the following distinct local dishes:
Fegato alla Veneziana
Calf liver and onions are the main ingredients of the classic Venetian dish fegato alla Veneziana. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that is often served with polenta or potatoes. Countless menus in Venice have this dish, so it’s easy to find.
It’s said that this dish first appeared during the Renaissance era when it was prepared with goose liver. However, nowadays, cow liver is the standard. The liver is fried in a hot pan with onions after being cut thinly. White wine, salt, and pepper are used as seasonings.
Baccalà Mantecato is a traditional Venetian dish made from salt cod that has been soaked, poached, and then whipped with olive oil, lemon juice, and other ingredients. It’s a luscious, velvety spread that glides smoothly on top of crispy crostini, tantalising your taste buds with its rich and creamy texture.
Baccalà Mantecato has a long history in Venice, dating back to the 18th century. It was originally a dish for the poor, as salt cod was a cheap and abundant source of protein. Much like a viral video, this dish has skyrocketed to fame and captured the hearts (and stomachs) of both visitors and residents alike.
The Venetians love their cicchetti, which are bite-sized tasty morsels; you can think of them as the Italian version of Spanish tapas. They’re served at bacari, which are like casual bars serving small plates of food alongside wine or spritz. You can have cicchetti with any type of topping, like seafood, pork, cheese, and veggies.
Cicchetti are a must-try in Venice if you’re seeking a local culinary adventure; they are a great way to sample Venice’s flavours and a relatively affordable dining option.
The name comes from “fritto”, which is Italian for “fried”. Frittole (aka Frittelle) are a traditional Venetian pastry that are typically eaten during Carnevale, the weeks leading up to Lent. Simply put, they’re Italian-style fried doughnuts. Frittole are an incredibly versatile treat that can cater to both sweet and savoury cravings.
These delectable delights can be filled with an array of mouthwatering ingredients, including succulent raisins, zesty orange peel, refreshing lemon peel, creamy custard, or indulgent chocolate. Frittole are an immensely popular and sought-after delicacy in Venice, which is why you can easily find them in numerous bakeries and cafes throughout the scenic city, especially during the vibrant Carnival season.
Bigoli con Salsa
Bigoli con Salsa is a traditional Venetian pasta dish made with whole-wheat bigoli pasta, onions, and salt-cured fish. The origins of the detectable bigoli can be traced back to the 14th century, a time of great conflict between the Venetians and the Turks. It was during this tumultuous period that Venetian ships, laden with grain, fell victim to enemy attacks and sank.
In the face of adversity, a resourceful cook rose to the occasion and ingeniously crafted a brand-new dough using the available ingredients. This innovative creation quickly gained popularity and became an instant hit among the masses.
During the early 17th century, the renowned pasta maker Bartolomio Veronese played a pivotal role in elevating the widespread appeal of this delicious dish. By inventing a wooden pasta-making machine, he revolutionised the process, making it incredibly convenient and accessible to the public.
Bigoli con Salsa is a simple dish, but it is packed with flavour. The onions are cooked slowly in olive oil until they are soft and caramelised, and the salt-cured fish adds a salty, umami flavour. The bigoli pasta soaks up the sauce, making for a hearty and satisfying dish.
The Queen of the Adriatic is full of surprises and waiting for you to trace them. If you are not visiting Venice this year, you should start planning your trip next year.