The City of Water, The Floating City, Serenissima. Venice, Italy is renowned as one of the most romantic cities in the world, and is the ideal city for a short getaway (or late Valentine’s day break). But in one of the great cities of the world, it can be tricky to know where to start, so red hot has you covered.
St. Mark’s Square
As I learned when I visited Venice, Italy as an eight year old terrified of birds, Piazza San Marco is a veritable sea of pigeons. As you can imagine, I remembered little else of the outing that day, but I now know there is much more to this part of Venice than the wildlife. Known in English as St Mark’s Square, it is home to three of the main attractions in Venice; St Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), Doge’s Palace and Torre dell’Orologio.
The St Mark’s Basilica is the most famous church in the city and is famed for being an example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. It was built as a symbol of the prosperity of Venice, covered in opulent mosaics, earning its nickname ‘Chiesa d’Oro’, or Church of gold, from the 11th century onwards. The Basilica is adjacent and attached to Doge’s Palace, one of the main landmarks of Venice, Italy, also famed as an example of Venetian Gothic architecture, and which was turned into a museum in 1923, holding various shows such as the history of Venice, art exhibitions, and the history of the palace itself. The clock tower in St Mark’s Square is a main feature of the area, and is known as the Torre dell’Orologio. It is elaborate, another status symbol for the city, displaying the time, current phase of the moon and the dominant Zodiac sign. While the building was covered in scaffolding for many years, it has now been unveiled for the public and tourists once again, in full working order.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Venetian mask is dressing up with the pink sparkly mask I bought on my trip when I was eight (see pigeon trauma in St Mark’s Square), but they’re actually a major part of the Festival of Venice. This is a world famous event dating back to 1162, the beginning of the Renaissance period. The imagery is notably baroque, and in the 17th century the carnival was a way to convey a luxurious Venice to the world. Now there are whole streets of shops selling an incredible variety of these masks, so many that I remember walking all day to find one that had just enough pink and a low enough price.
Getting around Venice can sometimes be tricky due to the pedestrianised nature of the city, with the main transport from place to place being water taxis or ‘vaporetto’, or water buses. However, the gondolas gliding along the serene water of Venetian canals are an iconic part of the city, and should definitely be on the agenda of anyone planning a visit, particularly if you are a couple. Try a trip floating through one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, being serenaded by a gondolier sounds like a scene from a romantic comedy. You can even book trips with a bottle of bubbly included!
If you’re not satisfied by the beauty and craftsmanship of the buildings in Piazza San Marco, Venice has plenty more to offer in terms of culture and art. The Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca d’Oro opened in 1916 when the Baron allowed the City of Venice to use this palace as a public art museum. The palace is home to paintings, sculptures and Renaissance bronzes, as well as Flemish tapestries. The Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna features paintings and tapestries from 19th century artists, up to pieces from artists such as Gustav Klimt and Kandinsky and onto work from the 1940s and 50s. As well as these better established collections, there are smaller galleries featuring work of local artists alongside modern and contemporary collections, such as the Bugno Art Gallery.
Food, drink and culture
Of course, wherever you go in Venice, Italy you’re sure to find some good food and drink, and although you have to watch out for the overpriced places, the Italians can generally be trusted with these matters. Dine at restaurants like Alle Testiere, which Sue Style from the Financial Times said is a place to ‘…indulge yourself with shellfish pleasures..’, and Locanda Cipriani, which since having been opened in the 1930s has been frequented by people such as Ernest Hemingway and the British royal family. For drinks, aperitivo are the way to go and bars around the Rialto Bridge are where Venice’s coolest residents take in aperitivo and cicheti (snacks). For breathtaking views, renowned popularity and frankly a really cool rooftop pool area, Skyline Bar is somewhere I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to experience after a day exploring the streets and canals of Venice.
When you’re in Venice, Italy you certainly need a nice pair of sunglasses. We would recommend some Persol Sunglasses, the Italian eyewear company has been crafting beautifully made sunglasses for centuries. These Classic Round Sunglasses by Persol are perfect. Check out our full range of Men’s Sunglasses and Women’s Sunglasses.
What colour mask will you choose? Will it have feathers and sparkles?