Venice is known the world over for being the home of romance, and if you’ve ever had the chance to visit you’ll soon see why. With the myriad of labyrinthine canals winding through the multitude of streets, the beautiful Venetian architecture as a backdrop, and a liberal scattering of quiet little cafés and eateries, the city is practically oozing with romance.
I got to spend a couple of days there a few years ago now and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with what I found. As for the romance part, yes, I can definitely say it was one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited and I have fond memories of my short time there.
It’s certainly easy to see why Venice is such a tourist hotspot – and quite literally packed with tourists in peak season. Aside from being generally very photogenic – thanks on the most part to the beautiful buildings and watery backdrop – you’ll be amazed at how cosmopolitan Venice feels. Despite the old world charm and wealth of history that greets you at every turn, you do get the feeling that this is also a thoroughly modern city (take a look at the well dressed Italians sitting outside trendy cafes, whilst chatting animatedly on their Smartphone’s, and you’ll see what I mean).
You’ve most probably heard that Venice is expensive and, whilst this is certainly true, it is possible to find cheaper places to get a snack or a quick coffee if you head away from the main tourist attractions to the quieter streets. You should aim to have at least one meal at a restaurant overlooking the Grand Canal though; it’s worth it despite the big hole it will burn in your pocket!
If I’ve convinced you to give Venice a try, or you need some more coaxing, read on for my top 5 wonders of Venice:
St. Mark’s Square & Basilica
One of the most iconic sights in Venice, St. Mark’s Basilica is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture with stunning mosaics that quite literally gild its exterior. The Campanile – or bell tower – which is also in the square, towers over the Venetian skyline and can be seen from quite a distance away as you cross the lagoon into Venice from the mainland (it’s no wonder at 323ft tall).
You’ll have to share the square with the many pigeons that also call it home – and most probably hundreds of tourists – but you’re sure to get some amazing photo’s to look back on after your trip.
The Grand Canal
As the name suggests, this is the largest and most famous of the canals in Venice and many of the best places to eat line the edges of this busy waterway. It actually meanders through the city for about 2.5 miles in an s-shape – said to follow the course of an ancient river – and there are some absolutely beautiful examples of the architecture for which Venice is so famous to be found along it (ranging from the 13th century right through to the 18th).
If you want to experience the Grand Canal at its very best, what better way than to take water taxi from one end to the other?
Another iconic sight of Venice, the Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal and is in fact the oldest bridge that does so (there are now 4 with the completion of the Ponte della Costituzione Bridge in 2008). The bridge was originally opened way back in 1591 – at the time the only bridge crossing the canal – and has stood the test of time to become one of the most recognised bridges in all of Europe
Bridge of Sighs
They say good things come in small packages and the Bridge of Sighs is certainly a superb example of this philosophy. Small but perfectly well formed – at only 36ft wide – the Bridge of Sighs is perhaps one of my favourite Venice wonders and it makes for a beautiful, if eerie, site perched high above the Palace River between the Doge’s Palace and old prison opposite.
There are plenty of stories as to how this famous bridge arrived at its name – one involving prisoners who had been sentenced to death sighing as they crossed and caught their last glimpse of the outside world – but my favourite states that couples who kiss under the bridge at sunset will rewarded with eternal love; surely a good reason to sigh?
It would certainly be a crime to visit one of the world’s most romantic destinations and not take a ride on one of the gondolas for which it is so famous. It might be costly but it’s certainly worth the expenditure – especially if you want to impress your nearest and dearest – and you’ll get to experience Venice at its best.
If you do decide to visit Venice, make sure you search online to get the best deal on your holiday and don’t forget to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy before you set off. To save you time and money, why not make use of a price comparison website such as MoneySupermarket.com where you can compare a variety of travel products in no time at all.