Venice Travel Guide
Built on 117 small islands with a staggering 150 canals and 409 bridges, Venice forms an intricate maze that is a pleasure to lose oneself in. The cityís most famous attraction is the world renowned Piazza San Marco. To stroll through this expansive pigeon-filled square is to sample the very heart of Venice. It is bordered by the exquisitely intricate Basilica di San Marco with itís glittering Medieval mosaics and towered over by the landmark Campanile from which the most spectacular panoramic views can be viewed for a mere 10,000 lire (£3). Also to be found in the Piazza San Marco area is the Dogeís Palace, (Palazzo Ducale) with itís amazing Gothic faÁade and itís wonderfully decorative 15th century rooms housing works of art by masters such as Tintoretto and Veronese.A short walk away is the 16th century Rialto Bridge - undoubtedly one of the symbols of Venice and just as much a tourist hotspot as the Piazza San Marco. Filled with market stalls and street vendors selling souvenirs of every description, allowing the bustling street markets to arch over the legendary Grand Canal.
It isnít difficult however, to escape the thronging crowds of the major tourist spots. Venice is a walkerís paradise and itís easy to head off down narrow streets and alleys to discover hidden piazzas along the miles of canal. Head to the districts of Dorsoduro, San Polo and Castello for a more authentic and quieter Venetian ambience. These districts are chock full of lesser-known monuments and works of art just begging to be visited. The Vaporetto - Veniceís very own waterbus system makes it easy to manoeuvre around the city. Cheap and easy, it is possible visit the other islands and Murano comes highly recommended. Home of the famous Murano glass, this modestly sized island brims with shops adorned with thousands of glass items, from traditional souvenirs to jewellery and designer ware. There are even glassblowing demonstrations for visitors to watch. The busiest and most surreal time to visit Venice however, is during the colourful Carnevale, celebrated in the ten days running up to Shrove Tuesday. The streets are awash with anonymous figures in exquisite masks and other fancy dress mayhem. There is face painting, music, concerts as a good-humoured, lively feeling floods the city as Venice becomes like one gigantic theatre back-drop. Venice really is a magical place and unarguably one of Italyís most enigmatic gems.
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