The Romantic poet Lord Byron described Venice as “a fairytale city of the heart”. And in those few words captured what this city is all about.
Venice is as set in stone and mortar as any other city: just delicately perched across 116 islands, and bisected by evocative canals. Alongside stand High Renaissance palazzi converted into galleries or luxury hotels, exquisite seafood restaurants and ancient stone steps that lead to the water’s edge. Back from the canals, a labyrinth of alleys, courtyards and passageways hide little bacari (wine bars), family-run trattoria, and traditional artisan stores selling Murano glassware.
Due to the total absence of cars and traffic, Venice earns its “Most Serene” nickname (all transportation uses the canals). Magnificent St Mark’s Square remains the first port of call for any holiday here. It’s among the most beautiful city squares in the world and home to the stunning Basilica with its five huge Eastern-influenced domes fretted with gold. The Campanile (bell tower) is the tallest building in Venice, offering panoramic views across St Mark’s.
If you’re on a romantic holiday or honeymoon, you can’t leave without a peaceful gondola ride down the iconic Grand Canal. For art-lovers, the Galleria dell’Accademia (founded by Napoleon) houses a stellar line-up of paintings by the European grand masters. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection has Italy’s finest modern art collection, including works by Picasso, Dali and Pollock.