Stylish Places to stay
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Venice City Guide and top places to stay

Mysterious, magical Venice faces the Adriatic in north-east Italy, its extraordinary beauty and glorious art and architecture drawing millions of visitors each year.  Venice is the ultimate romantic destination, where  five-star luxury hotels have marble bathrooms overlooking the lagoon and private docks instead of car parks, boutique hotels can be unashamedly baroque or hi-tech modern, and other options include discreet flats and opulent palazzos.

  Stylish places to shop

CANNAREGIO: Fortuny fabrics from Venetia Studium; elegant glass Zora da Venezia.  SAN MARCO: Designer shops Mercerie, Frezzeria area, C Larga XXII de Marzo. Antiques Mercatino dell'Antiquariato Campo S Maurizio Mar 26-28/June 4-6/Sep 17-19/Dec 17-19. Fantasy shoes Rolando Segalin C dei Fuseri. Leather Il Prato. SAN POLO: Fab lampshades Cenerentola C dei Saoeneri.  GENERAL: Shops open 10:00-19:30; many take cash only. 

  Activities for kids

CASTELLO: Museo Storico Navale naval museum. Get ices at Boutique del Gelato and have a run in the park Giardini Pubblici.  DORSODURO: Gondola workshop Squero di S Trovaso. Ca’ Macana papier-mâché mask workshop. SANTA CROCE: Natural History Museum, Aquarium. SAN MARCO: Doge’s Palace secret tour. JESOLO: Aqualandia best theme park in Europe!

  Must see and do

SANTA CROCE: Take Vaporetto #1 from Piazzale Roma up the Grand Canal and let the water-lapped palazzi, museums and churches slip past. Or go by gondola, wildly romantic, expensive, memorable!  SAN MARCO: Don’t miss Piazza San Marco’s beautiful square; Doge’s Palace; Bridge of Sighs; stunning views from the Campanile tower. SAN POLO: Go early to Rialto Markets Tue-Sat 08:00-13:00, a visual feast for photo buffs.

  Culture

Galleries: Peggy Guggenheim and Palazzo Grassi, modern art treasuries; dell’Accademia collection Venetian art; Franchetti (in Palazzo Ca’ d’Oro) see Mantegna’s S Sebastian; Ca’ Rezzonico 18th c Venetian art, Tiepolo.  Churches: I Frari Bellini, Donatello, Titian; Basilica di S Marco bronze horses, Pala d’Oro; Madonna dell’Orto Tintoretto’s tomb. S Rocco 50+ Tintorettos.

  Highlights

Mare Maggio May 14-16 maritime show ARSENALE.  Biennale May 26-Nov 21 huge int’l exhibition of art, architecture, cinema, dance, music and theatre CASTELLO.   Venezia Suona 8 July street music festival.  Jazz Festival July-Aug.  Film Festival Sep 1-11 2nd only to Cannes! LIDO.   Christmas market Dec lace, leather, toys, Campo S Stefano.
 

  About

400 bridges over 150 canals connect the 118 islands and maze of walking streets that make up Venice’s 6 central districts or sestieri: SAN MARCO, heart of Venice; DORSODURO, night life; SAN POLO, markets, bars and restaurants; SANTA CROCE, least touristy; CANNAREGIO, the Ghetto; CASTELLO, the shipyard. The lagoon has 20+ other islands, e.g. MURANO.

  Traditional

Jan 6 Regata delle Befane gondola race, Grand Canal. Feb 6-16 Carnival! 10 days of pageants, masked balls, street theatre, music.  May 15/16 Festa della Sensa wedding of Venice to the sea, SAN MARCO/LIDO.  July 18 Traditional feast GIUDECCA, fireworks; dancing Lido.  July 17 Festa del Redentore pilgrimage GIUDECCA, regatta.  Sep 5 Regata Storica 16th c gondola procession, regatta, Grand Canal.  Gondoliers’ race!

  Excursions

CANNAREGIO: original ghetto; khosher lunch at Gam Gam, yummy pastries at Panificio Volpe. BURANO: famous for lacemaking (if you're interested, check out how at Scuola dei Merletti) and brightly-painted fishermen’s houses; lunch at fish restaurant Il Gato Nero. Mainland VENETO by car: West to Padua 48min, Giotto´s fresco cycle; Vicenza 1h 3 min, beautiful Palladian architecture;  Soave´s fairytale town and cellars 1h 13 min; pretty Verona 1h 24 min, home to Romeo and Juliet; the wine valley of Valpolicella; beautiful Lake Garda 176km/2h 7min. South to Chioggia 58.5 km/1h 5min, Venice in miniature without the crowds.  In September, see the living chess game in tiny Marostica 63.4km/1h 22min.

  Sports

Apr 18 Su e zo per i ponti Olympic length marathon, world event attracting 6,000 runners.  May 23 Vogalonga 32km rowing regatta, lagoon.  Parque S Giuliano Rowing lessons standing up Venetian style!

  Health and beauty

CANNAREGIO: spa treatments with the glitterati at Bauer Palladio or the Cipriani´s Casanova Wellness Centre.  LIDO: Bikes for hire from kiosk at boat landing.  Beaches far from the crowd at Hotel Des Bains, Hotel Excelsior where you can rent cabanas by the day.  LIDO´s long empty streets are fantastic for jogging.

  Stylish places to eat

CANNAREGIO: $$$ Fiaschetteria Toscana Venetian cuisine; $$ Fontego dei Pescatori fab fish. DORSODURO: $$$ Ai Gondolieri meat/game.  Gelateria Paolin ices Campo S Stefano.  Gelateria Nico ices.  SAN POLO: $$$$ Osteria da Fiore squid risotto C del Scaleter; Banco Giro historic rest Rialto Market. SANTA CROCE: La Zucca star veggies, Il Refolo great pizza Apr-Oct, Nono Risorto family eatery Sottoportego dei Mori.

  Local wines

Visit the bacari (wine bars) for ombra (house wine) + cicchetti (baby squid), cod mousse, ham tramezzini and dozens of house specialities.  Do Mori S Polo 429, Vivaldi S Polo 1457, Vecchio Penasa C delle Rasse.  Try some of the local wines: Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Valpo Rosso.  Delicious Bellinis were invented in Venice: 1:2 parts peach juice topped up with Prosecco; or 1:3 parts grape, orange or strawberry juice topped up with Prosecco. Moreish spritzes are made with Campari, Aperol or Cynar topped up with Prosecco and soda and served with an olive.

  Stylish places to drink

DORSODURO: Lively bar scene near Rialto Bridge, Camp S Giacometo and Campo S Margherita. Venice Jazz Club M/W/F/Sat Ponte dei Pugni.  CANNAREGIO: Casanova Music Café pop music. Try your luck at the Casino - from Nov-Mar at Ca’ Vendramin, from Apr-Oct on Lido. Harry’s Bar Bellini invented here, glamour. SAN MARCO: Bacaro buzzing cocktail bar. Centrale bar/rest coolest place in town.

  Getting around

Airports:  From Marco Polo airport (Venice15 km): take $$$$ water taxi or $$ Alilaguna launch to S Marco; $$$ land taxi or $ ATVO coach/ACTV bus to Piazzale Roma, depending on your final destination.  From Treviso airport (Venice 26 km): take $ ATVO coach to Piazzale Roma.  If travelling in your own car, leave your car in the car park at Mestre train station, and take the train to Venice Santa Lucia.  If you have a rented car, head for Piazzale Roma and drop it off there.  Travelling in Venice: Get a Venice Card and save $$$$!

  Safety and local customs

Casual street peddlers: Avoid them, it’s illegal to sell or buy counterfeit goods. And … Keep your receipts: Italian law requires customers to retain proof of purchase.  Pickpockets: Venice is a safe city, but its pickpockets are expert!  Keep wallets, cameras, jewellery out of sight in public, and don’t hitch bags over chairs in restaurants.  Acqua alta: Flooding varies from 2 cms. to max mid-calf; it is not dangerous. Siren sounds 3/4 hrs. in advance. Plastic thighboots sold at street stalls.  Dress code: Venice has decorum patrols.  Don’t wear beach clothes in town.  In churches, avoid shorts, cover bare shoulders, remove hats.  Picnicking/littering: May attract reprimand or fine. Tips: 5-10%.

Stylish 5 star boutique hotels in Venice
15th century Ca Sagredo, Grand Canal
Design boutique hotel Grand Canal
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Useful Links
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Venice Card
ACTV Venice Public Transport
Venice in Peril
Musei Civici di Venezia
Basilica San Marco
La Biennale di Venezia
Vino Veneto
Row Venice
Venice Weather
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