After having lived and studied in this magical city for almost 10 years, here is my list of must-see places. Venice is a unique city in the world, for the environment in which it was built, for its history and culture. It was considered for centuries the "Queen of the Adriatic Sea" due to the almost absolute dominance it exercised in the trade of this area. gradually led it to become one of the richest and most beautiful cities in Italy. Undoubtedly you have heard about the romantic atmosphere that is breathed in its streets and in its canals while walking on foot or in a gondola "the city of love", city of Casanova, hometown also of the great explorer Marco polo. Or have you heard about the famous and crowded carnival that opens every year with the flight of an angel from the bell tower of Saint Mark Square. Or maybe you have heard that there are no cars, that you walk and stop and that there are only a lucky few who have a private boat. Well, all this is true and you live in a city without equal that from the first moment will make you feel like you are in a space-time bubble. Despite being a small city, Venice is home to a large number of Museums, Churches, Gardens and Squares (called campo = field). So without further ado, to immerse yourself in the local culture, here is finally my list of places that you cannot miss:
1: Chiesa di san Pantalon (Church of San Pantaleon)
Humble-looking church from the outside, the façade was never made so it seems bare and is completely presented with exposed bricks (perhaps this is why it goes unobserved by the vast majority of visitors, which makes it even more fascinating and authentic) but its interior preserves one of the most spectacular trasures in the city, I leave them as a surprise ... just look at the ceiling!
Admission is free!
2: Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Headquarters of one of the old fraternities (scuole grandi) of community aid in times of difficulty for the city, the saint to whom the surrounding church and the fellowship is dedicated (San Rocco) is a saint protector of the plague, something very important for the Venetians since Venice, being a trading port with the East, suffered several pestilences over the centuries. In the large scuola you will see the greatest and most important display of energy and talent of one of the best Venetian painters in history, the "furious" Tintoretto, who took the decoration of the place very seriously, some say because he himself was saved of the disease so during all the life that he had he would donate a work each year destined to decorate the place. What he did will leave you speechless! The place has earned among the Venetians the title of “the Venetian Sistine Chapel” and believe me, it has nothing to envy to the Chapel made by Michelangelo. Income: 8 euros.
3: Monumental complex of Saint Mark.
The complex is made up of: Saint Mark Square, Saint Mark's Church, Saint Mark Bell Tower, Doge's Palace, the Library, Correr Museum and National Archaeological Museum.
With the MUVE ticket (24 euros) you can access the entire complex.
Saint Mark Square.
The nevralgic center of Venice, Unique Square of the city (the other open spaces are called fields) worthy representative of the wealth and splendor of Venice during its heyday.
The square faces the sea, like the entire city, once looking at the entrance and exit towards the Adriatic of the loved ones in search of fortune, of the proud Venetian fleet. The oldest and most important cafes in the city are located under the portals of the square, Café Florian for example, probably the oldest café in Europe, described in great detail in the autobiography of Casanova who was a regular customer.
St. Mark's Basilica.
The name of the square is designated by the Saint Mark church , an architectural jewel dedicated to the saint and Evangelist Mark, patron of the Venetians. According to legend, the mortal remains of Saint Mark were brought to this golden Basilica, where they are still preserved today, from Alexandria by two Venetian merchants.
The entrance to the Basilica is Free and it is a great opportunity to observe the spectacular decoration completely made with golden mosaics and a technique perfected by the Venetians.
Seat of the Government of the “Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia”, a government that the whole of Europe envied for centuries, a functional government designed to impose the commercial and military domination of Venice on the sea.
The interior was decorated by all the great artists of Venetian history, you will have the opportunity to see, for example, the largest canvas painting in the world decorating the hall of the great council, you can walk the passage that leads to the famous bridge of sighs And you can also visit the prisons to give you an idea of how hard it was to be in prison in a city like Venice.
The entrance to the ducal palace costs 12 euros, and there is the option of buying a ticket that includes all the museums of the monumental complex of San Mark for 24 euros, the ticket is called MUVE and it is very worth it if you have a couple of days to see them calmly.
4: Panoramical views: Fondaco dei Tedeschi terrace and Punta della Dogana.
There is no better way to spend a sunset in Venice than observing the lagoon from some romantic terrace or a square open to the lagoon. Only then you will discover what inspired Venetian painters like Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto and foreigners like William Turner to create atmospheric works with lights that seem from another world. Because Venice has this particularity, fiery sunsets.
I particularly recommend two places that will take your breath away and both are free places.
Fondaco dei Tedeschi: Located near the Rialto Bridge, it is a luxury shopping center (once a center dedicated to merchandise from northern Europe and its merchants "fondaco" and "tedeschi = Germans") that has An incredible terrace with free access, all you have to do is enter and go up the escalator to the top floor, and voila you will see a door that leads to the terrace, get ready because the surprise is assured
Punta della Dogana: without having to enter any building, you will find this kind of peninsula in the Dorsoduro neighborhood that culminates with the tip of the dogana (customs) with the complete sea-level view of the city. A romantic and secluded place where one can simply sit and watch life go by, of course, in the Venetian way.
5: Acqua Alta Library
Perhaps you have already heard that Venice has a quite serious problem with floods, in fact these have become part of the daily life of any Venetian, I remember for example, that once while walking towards the university between the streets flooded with my rubber boots on, I saw a couple of fishes pass between my feet, they left and entered the canal quite naturally, as if they were waiting for their moment to experience the city. Some have found jellyfish swimming in the street, crabs etc. floods are so common that every shop, store and restaurant are prepared for it, universities, offices. Absolutely nothing closes for this reason; it is not a valid justification in Venice. To better understand this phenomenon, I recommend you visit this bookstore, it is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and this should be enough to convince you, but it is also a bookstore that is especially active during floods, so if we think about it, water and books, It does not seems like a good combination.. not at all! because here both things coexist in a very special way.
6: Fondamenta della misericordia
To finish my list of essential things in Venice, I could not miss an element of relaxation and Venetian lifestyle, I mean the aperitif, the one that is made just before going to dinner, a good spritz and some cicchetti to end the day of walk through the city.
Fondamenta della misericordia is probably the best way to do it, it is full of locals, osterias, trattorias, etc. and it is also one of the most authentic and beautiful roads in the entire city.
The spritz is the most Venetian drink there is, you will see many people around the city drinking an orange or red glass depending on the composition of this Venetian cocktail. Tradition holds that it is a drink invented here, perhaps during the Austrian occupation and the base is sparkling white wine (prosecco) and sparkling water to which a part of aperol, campari, cinar, select etc. is added. there are many and each Venetian has his favorite.
I am sure that by following these tips you will discover a Venice that you did not imagine. That is not the typical one of organized trips or the one that the guides show you. Venice is a lively city that resists as much as possible the great masses of tourists who come every year. Venice deserves to be respected and admired, so enjoy it and leave your comments
If Florence is also in your travel plan, I recommend you join one or both free tours organized by Nomadstour, one at 10:00 and the other at 15:00, you can book them here.