Only in Venice...5 Must-Have Travel Experiences

Posted by Amy Clyde on 3/19/2015
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Europe, Travel, Italy, Solo Travel, Venice, Florence, Food and Wine, Rome, Travel Tips

If Italian cities were meals, for me Venice would be a dessert – impossibly frothy yet perfectly rich – a place to get happily lost in, so far removed from the meat and potatoes of my home in New England that just strolling the picturesque streets or gliding down a canal gives me something like a sugar rush. I’ll never forget the taste of my first Venetian gelato on one of my European tours or the sight of the palazzi along the Grand Canal. Really? Streets full of water? Can a city be so rooted in history and so ornate, yet feel so ephemeral? The poet Lord Byron called Venice “a fairy city of the heart,” and Ezra Pound called it “improbable.” It is both – and not to be missed.

Here are some of my top picks for things to see in Venice...

dogespalaceThe Doge’s Palace Imagine a medieval republic so confident in its power and wealth that its center of government was built with no fortifications; instead it simply rises from the sea like a miraculous gift of the gods – light, airy, exquisite, boastful even, for all to see. The republic was Venice, and the Doge’s Palace is its most enduring symbol; in building the palace the dukes chose to awe the rest of the medieval world with a display of over-the-top splendor, rather than the appearance of military might. Frosted in pink and white marble, this Gothic confection is adorned inside with masterworks by the greatest Venetian painters, among them Titian, Veronese, and Tiepolo. Other highlights include the palace prison, for centuries one of the least escapable in Europe, and the famous Bridge of Sighs; it’s said that if a couple walks under the bridge their love will last forever.

stmarksbasilicaSt. Mark’s Basilica Connected to the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, a magnificent example of Byzantine-inflected Italian architecture, is widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe. Nicknamed Chiesa d’Oro – the Church of Gold – the basilica shimmers with myriad gold mosaics, hinting at Venice’s historic fascination with Eastern lands and treasures (and plundering thereof). Inside and out you’ll see stories of Saint Mark, who brought Christianity to Venice, and the Old and New Testaments. The opulent detail never fails to make jaws drop. After your visit be sure to linger in a café in Piazza San Marco within sight of the basilica to take in its splendor from an outdoor table over an espresso or vino. The piazza is ideal for people watching.

Inside A Palace on the Grand Canal
The palazzi lining Venice’s Grand Canal are filled with stories of aristocratic intrigue, passion, art – and gracious living Venetian style. Cruising down the canal in a vaporetto, gazing at the palace façades, it’s impossible not to wish to go inside one, to peek into the lifestyle of Venetian aristocrats. Some of the palaces are still the private homes of noble families, but others are open to the public as museums. For an authentic look at how top-drawer Venetians lived in the 18th century, visit Ca’ Rezzonico, decorated with period furniture, decorative objects, and paintings that perfectly complement its Baroque style. If your taste runs to modern art, Ca’ Pesaro, the 17th-century palace that houses the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, should top your list; the juxtaposition of historic palace with modern art is striking and original.


The Artistic Islands The turbulent history of glass making in Murano, in the Venice Lagoon, goes back to the 8th century, when artisans began to develop expert skill and sought-after designs found nowhere else in Europe. Today Murano’s glass masters carry on the tradition of innovation in their studios and workshops; some of the world’s most well regarded contemporary glass artists are from Murano, where they create works found in collections and galleries all over the globe. Burano, another island in the lagoon, will charm you with its colorful houses and rich tradition of lace making, dating to the 16th century, still practiced today by lace making families that go back generations.

gonoliersThe Canals by Gondola
Corny as it may sound, it’s worth going in for the quintessential Venetian experience, drifting through the canals with your own personal gondolier as you’re serenaded by classic Italian songs. It really is a romantic and fun way to get to know Venice and a true Venetian (in striped shirt and black pants) – and fun for families too. After all, how often in life are we treated to a serenade?

Discover all the Tauck trips that take you to Venice – and experience la dolce vita for yourself!




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