Venice, Italy

20 Jan, 2009

Venice, Italy

Everyone knows what and where Venice is. It is a city in Italy that is world-renowned for its river boat population. However, those are not the only things you can enjoy during your holiday in Venice. Here are some of the remarkable and noteworthy attractions you can find in the beautiful city of Venice as well as some of the activities that you should do while you’re in Venice.

St. Mark’s Basilica

Venice, Italy - St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica—Basilica di San Marco a Venezia, in Italian—is a Byzantine cathedral. It is the most famous of all of Venice’s churches. Despite its size, the Basilica was not intended as a public cathedral. Instead, the St. Mark’s Basilica was a chapel for the rulers of the city. It is more than a millennium old; it was first consecrated in October 8, 1904.

The church was initially a temporary building and a part of the Doge’s Palace. It was first built in 828 and had been subject to several renovations and redecoration. This was because Venetian merchants also arrive back to their home city with pieces of artifacts from a faraway ancient building they chance upon on their travels. These artifacts were always contributed to the Basilica. These artifacts include:

• The Greek Horses of Saint Mark. Initially displayed in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, replicas of the horses are on display outside the Basilica while the originals remain inside to prevent damage from air pollution.

• The Four Tetrachs, representations of Emperor Diocletian’s four-body co-ruling plan in the face of the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Like the Horses of Saint Mark, the Four Tetrachs were taken from Constantinople and placed in the south-west corner of the Basilica.

What makes the Church worthy of visiting is its Byzantine architecture. While the exterior is mix of several influences and styles, the inside is purely Byzantine. In fact, the Basilica was designed with the architectural style of the Justinian’s Basilica of the Apostles in Constantinople.

Veneto Hill Towns

If you want to experience something new and relatively little known to the general public about Venice, then you might want to hop away from the city and into the hills where the Veneto towns are located. Experience the rural life of Venice and what’s it like to live in its hills.

These towns are:

• Asolo. It is considered the ‘pearl of the Veneto.’ For good reason, since it has some of the most beautiful gardens and villas in the hills of Veneto.
• Bassano del Grappa. A picturesque town boasting of ceramics and porcini mushrooms as well as grappa or firewater from which the town takes its name.
• Palladian Villas. These are villas that were designed by the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, the most famous of which is the Villa Barbaro. These villas are known for the beautiful frescoes in their interior, which were done by Veronese.
• Marostica, a medieval town known for its local game of chess: it is played using living people as pieces.

The Veneto hill towns are known for its sumptuous meals and excellent wines. No tour of the hill towns is complete without sampling these offerings. As such, the tours always end with a glass of local prosecco at one of the Veneto local vineyards.

Ghost Walking

This is one of the tours that you must do when you’re in Venice for the holiday. The ghost walking tour at night exposes you to hidden Venice and brings you into contact with information that the rest of the world probably don’t know about.

In this tour, you will find out about Venice’s many sleeping canals. You’ll also visit squares that you probably don’t even know existed. Venice is at core a labyrinth: there are many places within its jurisdiction that are tucked away from the main and more popular parts of Venice. The tour also includes the little known street – actually an alleyway – of the Assassins where many murders and assassinations have taken place throughout Venice’s history and a secret underground passageway used by the wealthy Venetians to flee from police. The tour also pays justice to largely ignored architectural examples including a winding staircase called the Bovolo staircase when once a rich Venetian man used to bring his horse into his private apartments.

Of course, since it’s ghost walking, you’ll get to hear about six ghost stories that will make the tour worthy of its name.

The Three Islands of Venice

We all know Venice is a city that is made up of individual islands surrounding the Venice lagoon. As such, there are three islands that are worth visiting and these islands are

• Murano
Murano is the island that has made Venice for glassware. Most of the tour of this island focuses on the many glassware factories. By visiting this island, you get to see skilled glass-blowers mold figures out of melted glass into glassware. A tour to the local island museum will show you the many pieces of Murano glass throughout history.

• Burano
Burano, on the other hand, is a giant in the Venetian trade of lace. Go and visit the many lace shops where you can buy some for souvenirs, as well as visit a museum that will show you the story of how lace was traditionally made before the advances in technology. Other attractions in the island include fishermen’s houses; they are famous for their bright and lively pastel colors.

• Torcello
Among the many islands in Venice, Torcello is where civilization first took root in the city of Venice. Torcello is where 7th-century cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located. The remains of a circular baptistery in the church of Santa Fosca can also be visited during a tour of Torcello.

Gondola Rides

Of course, no holiday in Venice is complete without the world famous Gondola rides through the canals of the city. Enjoy the beauty of the lagoon and the business of Venetian life in one of these rides, some of which are likely to include a serenade to add romanticism to the tour.

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