Venice is a place where you can learn the meaning of the Italian phrase ‘Dolce far niente’ – the sweetness of doing nothing.
It is the place in Italy I have visited most and my favourite location to visit solo. Here is a place you can feel completely anonymous. No-one notices that you are walking around on your own, most are looking down at their mobile apps whilst trying to navigate themselves in the right direction. The rest are trying to get around tourists to find their way as quickly as possible to wherever they are going.
This provides a sort of security for solo travellers who can feel comfortable in enjoying the surroundings. As with any place, there are areas where you need to be a little more guarded, but only in terms of pickpockets who may try to help themselves to your valuables if you let them. Keep an eye on your bag and you will do ok.
St Mark’s Square (Piazza di San Marco) is vast and majestic. You will likely find this area busy with tourists and for good reason. No matter which direction you look, there is something of interest to see as you find yourself surrounded by shops, museums, palaces and outstanding views from the waterfront. Please, please take some time to visit some of the attractions here. Each one offers something special.
The Doge’s Palace has been converted into a spectacular museum with a solemn walk across the Bridge of sighs. Tread in the footsteps of those who took their last view of their beloved city as they stepped into the darkness of the prison cells, often never to return.
The Palace is full of elaborately decorated rooms and tells the story of the years of Venetian government ruled by a supreme leader or Doge.
Next to the Palace is the Basilica San Marco, a stunning example of Italian Byzantine architecture. The palace has been added to through the centuries and as you stand below the gold and shining mosaics that line the inner walls to the geometric marble floors, you can see the wealth invested into the structure. Pay a small extra amount and you can visit the original bronze horses of St Mark in the upstairs gallery, see the treasury and approach the altarpiece containing the relics of St Mark.
Tickets to the Doge’s Palace or Basilica can include entry to some of the other attractions in the square. My ticket allowed me to venture into the Museo Correr and Bibliotecha which was showing an exhibition on historic globes, well worth the time to visit.
Once the sun has cooled enough to venture outdoors, a walking along the canals is lovely. There is nowhere else in the world that transports you back in time like Venice does. Everywhere there are symbols of the city’s past and knowing the city is on borrowed time makes every moment more precious. The views from the main canals allow you to see both sides of the city and experience some unforgettable sunsets as gondolas row merrily by.
After you have had your cultural fill, take a look at some of Venice’s fine shops. So many shops, and Venice comes complete with its own designer district. Personally I love the narrow shopping streets with mask shops being my favourite. The secret is not to rush and why not search out one of the Italian sweet shops for a sugary treat.
While we’re here a quick word about food. Venice has an array of street food stores selling pizza, sandwiches, pastries, cake, meringues, nougat, truffles. Foods that are perfect for eating on the go. Trust me they are all delicious and to drink? This is the home of the world famous Bellini cocktail. You can sample the cocktail at most bars and restaurants or find ready-mixed bottles widely available. Now repeat after me….”una focaccia con pomodoro e formaggio por favore”.
The beauty of Venice is all the hidden gems you come across in the labyrinth of its winding pathways. Quite by accident I have discovered the Leonardo Da Vinci museum, the city College, Opera house, Guggenheim gallery as well as square after pretty square.
Unfortunately for me, I had no time to stop at that point. But as I’m sure you can tell, it is far from being my last trip to this extraordinary city. Venezia until next time….
Why not check out my article for more information about The Doge’s Palace
Day trip options available from Venice include:
Burano, Murano and Torcello Island Tour
Dolomite mountains Tour