Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/ AFP/Getty Images
Venice is quite irresistible. Like Paris or Rome, it demands that you return to it, and it never disappoints.
It is a city to take slowly, at strolling pace. Of course there are things you must see and do. Take the vaporetto down the length of the Grand Canal and absorb its enchanting beauty. Visit St Mark's Square and the Basilica San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale and the Rialto Bridge. Be warned; this is where the crowds are, the day-trippers and the boatloads of visitors who are tipped off the cruise liners each morning. They spread like lost snakes from St Mark's, through the expensive shopping district to the Rialto and back again, in time to board their ship for dinner.
Walk 30 metres from this well-worn path and you will find that Venice is
so much more than this. There are no crowds here, just the residents going
about their daily lives. This is the Venice of narrow alleyways and intimate
piazzas, local shops, and cafes and restaurants at every turn. You can walk
the length or breadth of Venice in an hour yet find yourself wonderfully
lost in minutes!
Take the vaporetto over to San Georgio Maggiore where, from the top of the
camponile, you will have the finest view of Venice. Visit the outer islands
such as Murano, famous for its glass, or Burano, on the edge of the lagoon,
with its history of fishing and lace making and its multi-coloured houses.
Or, in Venice itself, take in an evening concert in one of the churches.
Evenings in Venice are very quiet. The crowds have gone. Join Venetians
enjoying good food in a quiet restaurant then take a late vaporetto back to
daedelus adds ...
Venice is only to be wooed by being with her and knowing her ways. To sit with her outside Florian’s in St Mark’s Square among the marauding pigeons and sip lattes at hugely inflated prices will not impress her. Rather, wander the worn stones of her alleyways and listen to the whispers of the little side canals, as green water lisps gently at the ancient water gates of dying palazzos, their lower flanks green with algae. It is here that La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia (The Most Serene Republic of Venice) will be seduced. Stand on a little arched bridge built when Titian was alive and watch the sinuous reflections of walls sleeping in the cool shade, while up above terracotta tiles are warmed by golden sunlight in a sky of washed-out blue.