Venice – the City of Water, the City of Masks, the City of Bridges, or the Floating City – has become synonymous with luxury vacations in Europe. The evocative capital of Italy’s Veneto region is just as popular with honeymooners as it is with families and foodies.
Any first-time trip to Venice should include a visit to the key sights of Saint Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace, and the Rialto Bridge in the Centro Storico. Once night falls, hop aboard a gondola for an unforgettable cruise along the canals. Here are additional sightseeing and cultural experiences in the Venetian Lagoon.
The islands of Murano are a short ride via sampierotta or bragozzo boat from the Centro Storico. These isles are known for their glass factories where you can witness a glass-blowing demonstration and learn about the 1,500-year history of this art. Hands-on travelers may even enroll in a workshop while glassware souvenirs are widely available across Murano.
Otherwise, the charm of Murano lies in its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque buildings. According to legend, the Basilica of Saint Mary and Saint Donatus contains the rib bones of a dragon slain by Saint Donatus. The mosaic floor is also a treat worthy of the ride over to Murano.
A smaller island, Burano is an easy half-day outing from the Centro Storico. Explore independently on foot or enlist a local guide to steer you through these colorful streets and explain the history. Lace is to Burano what glass is to Murano. Therefore, you can attend a lace-making demonstration and purchase lace products on Burano.
Arts of Venice
Other unique experiences in the Centro Storico of Venice include catching an opera. The Traveling Opera is held at the Venetian Gothic-style Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. Each act takes place in a different room within the palace, hence the name. The line-up typically includes La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, or Rigoletto. Alternatively, the Santa Maria della Visitazione “Vivaldi” Church hosts regular concerts with the illustrious I Virtuosi Italiani ensemble.
In addition, crafting your own paper mâché volto larva in Venetian mask-making workshop results in a new skill and a perfect souvenir.
Gastronomy in Venice
The cuisine of Venice is unlike anywhere else in Italy. Historically, those living in the lagoon city had access to different types of ingredients. Rice and polenta are more typical than pasta and pizza is scarce. There is a great emphasis on seafood caught from the Venetian Lagoon and traditional meat dishes.
Any visit to Venice should include a sampling of Venetian tapas. Also eaten as a first course plate, sarde in saor is one of the most popular cicchetti dishes. Other examples of cicchetti include polpette (fried meatballs), seppioline alla griglia (grilled baby squid tossed with herbs and lemon), and crostini (mini open-faced sandwiches).
Cicchetti is served in the bacari (bars) of Venice alongside ombra – a glass of regional wine. Of course, Veneto is one of Italy’s most significant wine regions. Produced from Corvina, Corvinone, and Rondinella grapes, DOCG Amarone della Valpolicella red wine is what to order alongside meat dishes. Veneto’s sparkling wine hails from Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Look out for frizzante (fizzy) and spumante (fully sparkling) varieties in Venice.
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