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19th February 2020

Italy – Getting lost in Venice

Venice, an enchanting city lying between sea and land, made up of a series of islands and canals, nestling in a lagoon. This unique position, on the edge of continental Europe and the Orient, has made Venice an influential trading port through the ages, shaping the city which can be evidenced in the architecture and culture to this day.

A line of gondolas with the city beyond
A timeless view of gondolas and Venice beyond

The fact that there are no cars means that a sense of the cities past remains intact, the only way to travel around being on foot or by boat. Although one of the most visited and touristic destinations in Italy, it is possible to find yourself lost in Venice. Explore the dark, melancholic streets which become eerily quite the further you go with only the sounds of gently lapping water, footsteps echoing in the distance and the flapping of birds wings as, startled, they suddenly take flight.

If you have ever watched the 1972 film ‘Don’t Look Now’ you may think you have wondered onto the set, as you half expect to see a diminutive, red cloaked figure, out of the corner of your eye disappearing round a corner.

A gondola cruises through Venice
A gondola cruises through Venice

As you meander through the labyrinthine streets and alleyways, you might find you have walked in a complete circle, or thought you were in a blind ally, but then you find a way through a medieval archway that opens all of a sudden into a bustling Campo, with restaurants and coffee bars where you can rest awhile, perhaps with an Aperol Spritz?

Winding your way through the canals of Venice
Winding your way through the canals of Venice

Discover interesting antique shops, old fashioned shoemakers, funky book stores, as well as souvenir shops selling Murano Glass and highly decorative carnival masks. Some masks, such as the doctor’s plague mask with it’s hooked nose, are creepy and vaguely grotesque but this only adds to the fantasy feel of Venice. Try Ca’ del Sol for authentic, hand made Venetian masks.

A doctor's plague mask
A doctor’s plague mask

To truly soak in the unique atmosphere of this watery city, you must take a gondola ride. What better way to rest your weary legs as the gondolier expertly navigates the narrow canals and zigzags across the Grand Canal, while you absorb the ancient architecture with its crumbling edifices, the play of light and shadows reflecting in the water, the gargoyles that stare blindly (or knowingly) down at you, all contrasting with modern day graffiti.

A gondola awaits its passengers
A gondola awaits its passengers

There are plenty of museums where you can catch a bit of culture and view works by great artists such as Titian and Tintoretto. There are churches on every square and of course the Basilica of St Mark and the Doge’s Palace in the Piazza San Marco. Be sure to climb to the top of the Basilica to take photos from the top and listen to the sound of the bells tolling from the Camponile.

Venice has some stunning architecture
Venice has some stunning architecture

We stayed at The Metropole, a 5*hotel overlooking the lagoon and a short stroll from the Piazza San Marco. It is decorated in keeping with its Venetian heritage with extravagant brocades, interesting antique pieces and with the lingering, intoxicating scent from lit candles and incense in the Oriental Bar, evocative of days gone by and a welcome haven after a day exploring the city.

The 5* Venice Metropole Hotel
The 5* Venice Metropole Hotel

I would recommend you visit Venice out of season, we travelled in November and enjoyed temperatures up to 20 degrees, but it can be very cold and wet. Exceptional tidal peaks between Autumn and Spring can cause Acqua Alta, when the city floods and everyone dons their wellington boots, but this is when the city is at its most atmospheric, with the mist rolling in off the sea and fewer tourists.

Give us a call to talk to us about Venice and the many hotel options.

By Telina Lawrence
19th February 2020