Top 10 – What to visit in Venice

Veneza - _15Venice… Few places are as desired as this one, I think there’s not much people who don’t dream of going to Venice. It is one of the biggest symbols of romance, and one of those that look better on recollection photos.

It is magical, romantic, unique, historical, monumental and breathtaking!

I went to Venice during a trip for several Italian cities, and I can’t lie about it, on the train ride from Florence I was nervous, so great were my expectations about it!

When we arrived to Santa Lucia’s station I came out of the train in fear, I knew I was going to like Venice, but that was not enough for me, I wanted to love it, not simply like it, I wanted to be blown away, get emotional, tell everybody that told me I was going to be disappointed they were completely insane!

Veneza - _52And so it was! As soon my feet laid in Venice I had tachycardia, tachypnea, I was really excited!!! I was disoriented with the amount of water, the bridges, the architecture of the buildings, with the combination of magic and mystery the city presents and found myself wondering how it is possible we still have something like this nowadays, something so magical and so masterful! And asking myself what hell of a city those people saw to tell me I was going to get disappointed! Not Venice, for sure! Yes, I know, I have to get used to the idea everybody is different, and tastes cannot be discussed (but can be regretted!), etc., etc., etc. Oh, please!!! It’s VENICE!

Of course, as always, being a lucky lady, even though I went in October, the weather was amazing, with the sun reflecting on the water and bringing up even more the charms of the city. Some say it smells bad sometimes, mostly when it rains and there are floods, but what do you expect? Its canals instead of streets, with hundreds and hundreds of years of history and obviously, something that has been kept through times will also have its negatives. But saying the city is not pretty or it’s not worth a visit because of the smell, or because it’s old, please!

Although there are not many historical registers about Venice’s origin, it is thought that it started in the V century, with inhabitants from other roman cities that took refuge here due to the successive invasions to which the Italian Peninsula was under.
In the X century it belonged to the Byzantine Empire, becoming independent and evolving a lot through the privileged location, which allowed it to unite the occidental and oriental commerce.

However, the Portuguese (yes, us!) discovered the sea route to India and to America, shifting the trade routes and Venice was obliged to sustain a grueling fight against the Ottomans.

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In the XVIII century, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice, and after that it became part of Austria, until 1866 with Italy’s unification.

Venice is a really different and unique city.

The city is covered by 177 canals, 400 bridges and 118 islands, and is located between the river mouth of Adige River (south) and Piave River (north). The historical center is totally pedestrian and the boats are the only transportation in the area. The Vaporetti are the public transports, and the most beautiful itinerary is the 1st one, that goes through the Grand Canal. You can use them to move around the several areas of town. For a more luxurious transportation, and also faster, you can opt for the aquatic Taxis, and for a different, more private and romantic trip you can choose the Gondola, I advise you to, because is one of the highlights when visiting Venice.

Venice’s commune is not divided in fractions, unlike what is usual in Italy. The center of town follows a tradition of division in neighborhoods called sestieri, and they are six:

Cannaregio – in which is located the train station of Venezia Santa Lucia.

Castello – the most eastern.

Dorsoduro – the southern Venice.

San Marco – the heart of the city, where is included the Piazza San Marco, the basilica and the Belfry.

San Polo – the smallest, in one of the sides of Rialto Bridge.

Santa Croce – the most western.

Walking around Venice, whether by foot along the masterful plazas or by boat through the canals is the same as visiting the inside of a museum! Everything has history in this town, even if you don’t enter any place, just walking around warms your soul.

However, there are places you can’t miss, so I prepared a TOP 10 for you, aware that there’s a lot for you to see, but those who are passionate for this town like myself, will certainly go back, so in a first visit you can opt for these places.
For having a discount when visiting them, or even do it for free and without getting bored in the lines you can buy the Venezia city pass.

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Going through the Grand Canal we can observe the magnificent places from our Top 10 we’ll visit, for example:

From Santa Lucia to Rialto

Ca´d´oro

Ordered in 1420 by Marino Contarini, this promised to be the most imposing palace in town! The façade is ornamented in the most refined way for its building time, including gold leaf, cinnabar and navy blue. Through the centuries the palace was remodeled and was even abandoned until 1846, when it was bought by the Russian Prince Troubetzkoy, who offered it to the ballerina Maria Taglioni. It was restored in a quite aggressive way, suffering several changes, losing the magnificent staircase, for example. Fortunately it was saved by baron Franchetti in 1915, who gave his building and private collection to the state.

Although the building for itself being worth a visit, here we can find artworks from Andrea Mantegna, Tulio Lombardo, Giovanni Bellini, Titian, among others.

Ca´Pesaro

This palace from the XVII century is the biggest example of the Venice Baroque with classic columns and a rich, but subtle ornamentation. The grand palace, nowadays place of the Modern Art Museum (Galleria internazionale d’arte Moderna) and the Oriental Art Museum (Museo d’arte Orientale) of Venice, it was projected in the XVII century by the architect Baldassare Longhena as wished by the rich and noble family Pesaro. It was only concluded by the hands of Gian Antonio Gaspari that completed it in 1710, respecting the original project. Passing through different families it was acquired by the Duchess Felicita Bevilaqua La Masa, who transformed it into a modern art gallery.

Veneza - _13Rialto Bridge

This is the most famous (and therefore most touristic) bridge in Venice. This area was one of the first to be inhabited, first staring to be a bank area, and later becoming a trading area. The bridges exist since the XII century, however made of different materials and of different construction, like wood bridges, for example. Rialto Bridge was built from 1588 to 1591 and was the only one that allowed crossing the Grand Canal by foot. It gives access to Rialto Mercato, with the Erberia, a market of fruits and vegetables, and the Pescheria, fish market.

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From Rialto to San Marco

Ca´Rezzonico

The construction of this building started in 1667, passing from family to family, that normally drained all their money in the construction of the Palace. It has rooms decorated with frescoes, paintings and pieces from the XVIII century that illustrate well the Venice from that time.
One of the great attractions of the palace is the masterful ball room of Giorgio Massari.

Accademia

Here we can find the biggest collection of Venice paintings in the world.
Since the Byzantine to the Baroque, passing through the Renaissance, at Accademia is reunited the complete panorama of the School of Venice.
It was created from the works of Academia di Belle Arti founded in 1750 by the paintor Giovani Battista Piazeetta, to which united, in 1807, works of art from churches and monasteries, taken by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Veneza - _32Santa Maria Della Salute

This grand Baroque church is one of the main architectural spots in town. It was constructed in 1630 by Baldassare Longhena that worked in it till his dead in 1687. The church was built to thank the salvation of the city from the plague in 1630, therefore the name Salute (health and salvation).
Here we can find works from Giusto Le Corte, Titian, Tintoretto.

Landing in some of the most emblematic areas in town, and going street by street we find the wonders Venice has to offer, like for example:

San Polo Area

Santa Maria Gloriosa di Frari

Another magnificent gothic style church. The Franciscans ordered the construction of the first temple that existed in this place between 1250 and 1338, and only in the late XV century this monumental building rose in the same area. It has real treasures in its interior, like Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin, the Madonna and Child from Bellini, the Campanile with 83 cm of height, the biggest after San Marco, among others.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

This amazing art example is many times referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Venice!
The constructuion started in 1515 with Bartolomeo Bon, and after with Scarpagnino, and it was made in honor of San Rocco, a saint who dedicated his life to help the sick. This started as a simple charity fraternity but quickly became one of the richest of Venice. In 1564 the decoration of the walls and ceiling was in charge of one of the Renaissance geniuses, Tintoretto. From his most remarkable works, some stand out like the Crucifixion, The Flight into Egipt and The Temptation of Christ.

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San Marco Area

Veneza - _26San Marco’s plaza is the “most elegant reception room of Europe”, like described by Napoleon, and it is probably one of the most visited places in the world.
Here we can find two of the most important points of the Top 10 I prepared for you.

Veneza - _27Basílica di San Marco

This is the most famous basilica of Venice and is able to combine the most beautiful architectural styles from the Orient and the Occident.

This is the third Christian temple built in this place, once before existed a sanctuary where laid the body of Saint Mark in the IX century, and after that was constructed a second building before the rise of the Basilica like we know it today. It was constructed according to a plan in Greek cross and crowned with five domes.

It was inspired in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The history tells that all the boats that came back from their trips had to bring a precious present to ornament even more the house of San Marco. The interior is of an astonishing beauty, covered by stunning mosaics, which decorate the basilica combining the byzantine inspiration and the occidental one, many drawing of Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese can also be found, among others.

The biggest ex-Libris of the Basilica is Pala D’Oro, consisting of 250 panels covered with gold leaf and a Gothic gold frame. Napoleon seized some of its precious rocks, but its sapphires, rubies and amethysts remain till today. The basilica also presents a museum, Museo Marciano, where you can find the famous bronze horses, whose origin, Roman or Hellenic is still a mystery.

Well, what more can I say, we stand before one of the most beautiful Basilicas in the world!

Veneza - _21Palazzo Ducale

The former headquarters of the political power is an authentic triumph of the Gothic architecture. This was the official residence of Venice’s rulers and was founded in the IX century. We have works by Tintoretto, like the Paradise, which decorates the wall of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (where the members of the council reunited). The visit to this building takes us to another place, conducting us through rooms and atriums richly decorated. These are arrange along 3 floors to the famous Bridge of Sighs that connects the Palace to the prisons, the name is due to the sighs of the prisoners when walking there and had a unique vision to the outside.

It is a place not to be missed, for sure.

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Yes, I have to admit, Venice is one of the cities I carry in my thoughts every second, its one of the most wonderful cities I ever visited, forget the fact it is full of tourists, because that is a good sign, sign that like you, some other people are also trying to be happy! Forget the unpleasant smells (if you feel them) and enjoy one of the most amazing places of all times.

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Where to Stay
Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Aman Canal Grande Venice
Hotel Metropole Venice

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses.

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