VENICE – WHY GO?
Truman Capote famously said that Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. And this chocolate-box city of art, churches and palazzi, wrapped in a filigree of canals, is one of the world’s unmissable cities.
Venice also has more than its share of fabulously romantic hotels. Skip the crowds and head for Venice out of season to see it at its best. March can be sun-filled; November moody and misty; January wonderfully crisp and cold. Come in February for the famed ten-day Carnevale.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Piazza San Marco
Framed by the fabulously ornate Basilica and the Capanile tower, Piazza San Marco is the city's centrepiece and the point where most visitors disembark from their vaporetto. The Basilica’s mosaic-encrusted interiors twinkle like a rich jewel, while the Capanile offers mile-wide views of the Venice skyline.
Just steps away from San Marco is the imposing Doge’s Palace, where Venetian aristocrats once ruled the city. Its opulent state rooms and apartments are filled with works of the great 16th century Venetian artists. Be ready to queue here, even in winter. The "secret" tour offers plenty of intrigue.
Home to the city’s greatest art collection, this gallery's 24 rooms house some of Italy’s finest paintings, including masterpieces by Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto. If you’re threatened with artistic overload simply pick a century off to start with – the collection is arranged in chronological order.
Peggy Guggenheim collection
By contrast, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection showcases an eclectic assortment of mid 20th century modern art, all housed in a canal-side palazzo with fetching gardens.
Cross the lagoon to the island of Giudecca for a taste of how ordinary Venetians live. It’s a crowd-free place to stroll, with stunning sunset views of the Baroque domes of Santa Maria della Salute church. You can also pop across to the islet of San Giorgio for an unbeatable tableau of the Venice skyline.
This famous bridge spanning the Grand Canal houses arcaded small shops selling jewellery, and offers one of the best views in Venice – great for watching the to-ing and fro-ing of gondolas.
No visit to Venice is complete without riding along the Grand Canal in a vaporetto (water bus) or plying the waters in a gondola.
Wander through the Dorsoduro neighbourhood and get lost in a maze of quiet backstreets and canals.
Murano and Burano
You can shop for Venetian glassware on the islands of Murano and Burano in the Venice lagoon, or head off to more distant Torcello for a taste of laid-back lagoon life.
Don’t ignore the charms of the Veneto on your Venetian odyssey. Aristocrats of old used to escape the heat of the summer in some of the fine Palladian villas scattered through the surrounding countryside, and Treviso to the north has its own historic charms. You can also visit vineyards along the Prosecco trail.
MAKE A DATE
Venice Carnevale. The word-famous festival makes waves with masked balls, music and parties.
Festival of Redentore. Venice lights up with some amazing fireworks in the San Marco Bay.
Venice Film Festival. Come to watch new releases and star-spot.
Sip a frothy peach bellini on the terrace of one of Venice’s grandly romantic hotels, then slide into a gondola for a ride through the canals – touristy, but still a winner.