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Venice does certainly not need any special presentation. Its charm, its extraordinary artistic and cultural heritage and its uniqueness make it a jewel of incomparable beauty.
The entire city and the lagoon surrounding it were included in the UNESCO heritage in 1979.
San Giuliano Venice is the “aire d’accueil” nearest to the old town of Venice who can be reached by motorboat or tramway/bus.
St. Mark’s square (Piazza San Marco)
The St. Mark’s square is one of the most beautiful squares in the entire world. Due to its shape, its resembles a giant sitting room, surrounded by St. Mark’s Basilica – a blaze of gold and pinnacles -, Procuratìe Vecchie, Napoleonic wing and the Correr Museum. The famous clock tower, 100 metres high, the Doge’s Palace made of stone brought from Istria and Verona, the columns bearing St. Mark’s Lion and St. Theodore enclose the square part of the “Piazza”, which gives onto the St. Mark’s basin. The view from there is spectacular. The St. George’s island and the Palladian architecture, the Basilica of St. Mary of Health, the visible patch of the lagoon and the gondolas offer a unique show to every tourist. The square is also known for its historical cafés, Florian and Quadri, each in turn trying to win over the crowd with the sound of their orchestras. Not far from the square, on the Riva degli Schiavoni, you’ll find the famous Sospiri Bridge – one of the last places almost in open air from which the convicts were able to see Venice, probably for the last time, before being imprisoned.
It is not just the most famous bridge of Venice. It got its name from Rivo Alto, which is the highest point in the entire lagoon. According to historical documents, it was the first area in the lagoon to be inhabited by those fleeing from the barbaric invasions. For several centuries Rialto was the centre of Venice, after which the St. Mark’s square gained more importance. Rialto was and remains the home of the largest market of Venice – the city whose cultural and historical identity is based on trade. Today the Rialto area is one of the most busy parts of the city and in certain ways its beating heart. The view of the Grand Canal from the bridge is breathtaking, especially at sunset.
The Academy area is one of the most popular parts of Venice. The Venetians have informally named it after the Academy of Fine Arts, which was founded in 1750 and is still active. The characteristic wooden bridge connecting it with Campo Santo Stefano (St. Steven’s square) was supposed to be just a temporary solution, but it has never been replaced. You can enjoy a fantastic view of the Grand Canal and the cupola of St. Mary of Health from the bridge. Not far from the Academy you’ll find Campo Santa Margherita (St. Margaret’s square), where Venetian students meet all year long to go out together and drink an aperitif in good company.
Basilica of St. Mary of Health (Basilica della Salute)
The large dome of the Basilica of St. Mary of Health is elegantly outlined against the Venice sky. Even the Venetians find it fascinating every time they take a look at it. The basilica itself, with its curved and intricate shapes, is a spectacular example of baroque architecture. It was built to thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for ending a horrible plague that struck the city between 1630 and 1631, which practically decimated the number of its inhabitants. Every year on 21st November a bridge made of boats leads directly to the Basilica to celebrate the pilgrimage commemorating this event. The Basilica stairway is a great place for enjoying the view of the Grand Canal and the entire St. Mark’s basin. Day and night in this place you can often hear the gondoliers singing mixed with the gentle splashing of the sea. The city, though close, seems to belong to another dimension. The renewed Punta della Dogana, located a short distance from the Basilica, is a museum of international renown.
Lista di Spagna
Connecting the St. Lucy’s train station and Campo Santi Apostoli near to Rialto it represents one of the few straight and wide streets of Venice. Along this street you’ll be able to glimpse the Basilica of St. Lucy, the Jewish Ghetto with its curious traditions and synagogues, various churches and clock towers and the Grand Canal. Plunging into its magical mix of colours and perfumes, Lista di Spagna is the best way for you to get to know the liveliest atmosphere in entire Venice.
Fondamente Nove, San Giovanni e Paolo, Civil Hospital
Fondamente Nove, together with the neighbourhood which had arisen around them, attract mainly the Venetians. Narrow little alleys come out abruptly to the light of the large square dedicated to the saints John and Peter (Campo San Giovanni e Paolo) and dominated by the homonymous church built in the gothic Venetian style, the Colleoni monument and the fabulous facade of the Civil Hospital. A walk around this area will give you an insight in the everyday life in Venice. From Fondamente you can also visit the monumental cemetery on the island of St. Michael’s, which holds the graves of intellectuals from every age.
Campo Santa Maria Formosa and the Church of the Miracles
Campo Santa Maria Formosa is one of the largest and the most popular squares or “campi” in Venice. It is located near the Civil Hospital and it is the centre of a lively district rich with impressive buildings, such as Palazzo Querini Stampalia. The little Church of the St. Mary of the Miracles is a jewel shining among the canals and the narrow alleys of Cannaregio. Where it stands there was once a painting in the angle of a house belonging to a trader. The inhabitants of this district used to pray to this painting for miracles which, according to the legend, had always been answered. Therefore the people decided to build there a church worthy of such miracles and one of the first examples of Venetian renaissance architecture came to life. A visit to the Church of the Miracles, with its many coloured marble walls, is an absolute must for those who want to discover the secrets of Venice.
The most easterly district of Venice treasures extraordinary beauties and curiosities. Beside the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, the Civil Hospital and the Basilica of San Giovanni e Paolo, the Castello district boasts among other monuments the curious church of St. Zachary and the St. Peter’s Basilica. The first one, located near St. Mark’s square, will surprise you with the elegant little square surrounding it. The latter, on the other hand, was the bishop’s seat before St. Mark’s Basilica and has a very long and interesting history. It was built on the city outskirts on a small island rarely visited by tourists, but attracting the locals, whom you’ll often find sitting in the open, talking and playing cards. The pier on the south of the district, Riva degli Schiavoni, leads directly to the Arsenal, where the Venetians used to build their ships, and to the public park (Giardini Pubblici), which both host the famous Venice Biennale. The Garibaldi street is the main axis of the district. The Venetians love to stroll on it among numerous ice cream parlours and greengrocers.
Murano, Burano, Torcello and other islands
The islands scattered in the northern part of the Venice lagoon are timeless places in which the ancient Venetian traditions are still part of the everyday life. Murano is renowned for its fine glass and its visitors may participate in the making of those extraordinary works of art that made the Venetian glass famous in the entire world. Burano, on the other hand, is a blaze of colour: houses painted in bright colours, laundry drying in open air and the voices of children playing in little squares are the most authentic Venice. Torcello is the home of history. People from all over the world passed through it, even Attila, King of the Huns, they say, when he invaded this territory. In fact, you can see there the remains of what it is believed to had been his throne. The wide and thick clock tower dominates this wild, fascinating and silent island. The Venetian islands are a precious treasure chest guarding the ancient identity of the peoples of the lagoon; with their monasteries, stands and small cultivated fields they belong to the most interesting attractions offered by Venice.
Holidays and traditions
Venice is very famous for its traditions, the main ones being: the Carnival, the Historical Regatta, Festa della Sensa (Ascension Day), Il Redentore and the Pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Mary of Health.