Venice is a maze of beautiful architecture, mysterious alleys and and inevitably romantic canals. One of the most alluring facts about this city is that you are bound to get lost and still stumble across a jewel, as I managed to do plenty of times! My advice to anybody travelling to Venice would be to not book a hotel right by Piazza San Marco; avoid the chaos and book boutique hotels that lie in the small calles. That way, you'll manage to escape the throng of tourists and truly relax.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)
The first beauty you will be greeted by when you step out of the water bus at the San Zaccaria stop is the Palazzo Ducale. It's Gothic facade overlooks the lagoon, with two of the marble pillars stained red, where public executions were once declared. The palace's colonnade was also one of the few respites from the sun and the shaded arches were perfect for walking when the piazza was ablaze in the afternoon heat.
Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)
This cathedral is one of the best examples of post-Byzantine Italian architecture. The interior of the domes are painted a luxurious gold and depict biblical scenes and saints. The queues often reach the lagoon especially during the afternoon so avoid the long wait by getting there as early as possible! The cathedral is closed to visitors after sunset so if you would like to visit St. Mark's, it's definitely a tour you would have to plan into your day beforehand. If you don't manage to get in, don't worry because there are plenty of other beautiful cathedrals scattered around the city that are free to visitors.
Campanile Di San Marco (St. Mark's Tower)
Right across the entrance to the Basilica is St. Mark's Tower. It has been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries but the stunning views of the piazza and lagoon from all sides remain the same. If you're looking for a beautiful panoramic spot or a nice place to enjoy the sunset, I suggest coming here in the evening. Tickets were less than 10 euros and had a significantly shorter queue than the cathedral opposite.
Of course, no Venetian holiday would be complete without a gondola ride around the canals. Although this was one of the most expensive activities (120 euros for an hour), it is the easiest way to soak in the landmarks that are hard to reach by foot. Above is the home of Giacomo Casanova, famous Italian adventurer and playboy. The Ponte Di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) was undergoing renovation at the time I was visiting, which isn't surprising, considering it is the oldest bridge in Venice!
The next post in the Venice series will be about the main reason I visited Venice in July: Art Biennale. I will also be featuring an article on Variant Space about it so look out for that too!