We arrived in Venice in the evening by train from Milan. We took a taxi from the Florence Mestre Station to the Hilton Garden Inn at Via Orlanda 1, 30173 Mestre, Italy. Mestre is in a suburb outside of the Venice canal area and consequently, it is a less expensive option. Our friend was able to book a suite for a 3 night stay with her miles. The breakfast buffet was extra at 13 euros per person. Also, we purchased public transportation passes at the hotel desk which were also valid for the water taxis. I have footnoted below information about these passes. In general the passes for each person will cost 60 euros plus tax for 7 days; 40 euros for 72 hours; 30 euros for 48 hours; and 20 euros for 24 hours.
There is a bus stop in front of the hotel. The buses # 5 and 19 will transport riders, numerous times to the bridge next to the canal area. On the return trip, the buses drop passengers off across the street but there is a bridge for pedestrians to use. Don’t forget that if you are not accompanied by others getting off at your stop, you must press the red button.
Staying at a hotel within the canal zone which makes it convenient to walk to the close by attractions may be worth the extra costs. A place that I like is: Hotel Casa Verardo Residenza d’Epoca – Sestiere Castello 4765, 30122 Venezia VE | Tel. +39.041.5286138 |E. firstname.lastname@example.org. The rates on the hotel booking websites hover around $250.00 plus taxes for September 2015.
Another solution to consider, if you are traveling with 3 or more people, is to rent an apartment within walking distance to St. Mark’s Square. For this option, I would resort to the expertise of “Apartments in Venice;”+39 041 244 0127; http://www.veniceapartment.com/Venice.Italy.
The first morning in Venice, we took time to saunter over to Il Ghetto (the Jewish Ghetto) in Venice. We explored the area, did some shopping and ate at a café while my one friend did a quick tour of the Museo Communità Ebraica, a Jewish museum,
This Ghetto is the area in which all Jews were forced to live from the 16th to the 18th century. This history was made famous by Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Now, it is a pleasant neighborhood where Venice’s small Jewish community still lives.
We managed to follow the suggested itinerary provided on a guide/ map presented to tourists by the hotels. These are the directions: “Once you arrive at the Piazzale Roma, you can catch the water bus to bring you to where all the major attractions are, St. Mark’s Square or you can walk.”
“St. Mark’s Square is defined by arcades on three sides and St. Mark’s Church on the eastern end. You can spend the whole day in this area, visiting the St. Mark’s Church, The Doge’s Palace and the Museum Corner. Or go to the top of the bell tower which features spectacular views of Venice and its lagoon.”
“The Doge’s Palace was the seat of government for years. As well as being the home of the Doge (the elected ruler of Venice), it was the venue for its law courts, its civil administration and bureaucracy—until its relocation across the Bridge of Sighs—-the city jail.”
“The Rialto Bridge is the most famous of the four bridges that cross the Grand canal. It is very easy to find because you just have to follow the yellow signs with directions to Rialto. It is just a 15 minute walk from St. Mark’s Square where you will find a lot of gift and souvenir shops.”
“From Ponte della Paglia you can see the famous “Bridge of Sighs” named this way in the 19th century by Lord Byron, who helped popularize the belief that the bridge’s name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to their execution.”
Pauline Frommer in her guidebook on Italy writes the following about Casanova. “The most famous convict ever to cross the Bridge of Sighs into Venice’s state prisons was Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, he of bodice-ripping world renown. Casanova, who earned universal recognition as an erotic hero who made love to incomparable numbers of women (122 of these adventures are recounted in his feisty, and undoubtedly exaggerated, autobiography). “
One attraction that is outside of St. Marks’ Square, is Teatro La Fenice, Campo San Fantin. The history of the Opera house in Venice is fraught with disaster. In 1637, this was Italy’s first Opera palace. In the 18th century this lavishly built arena was burnt to the ground. In 1996, this spectacular building was again gutted from fire under suspicious circumstances. After 50 million euros, Teatro Fenice has been restored to its original splendor but with multiple fire safety features and has been host to many wonderful productions.
Pauline Frommer in her guidebook suggests that if you are in this area, that you also head on over to the nearby Osteria Vino Vino, Ponte delle Veste, 2007/A, 30124; tel. +39-041-241-7688; http://www.vinovinowinebar.com. The restaurant is at the opposite end of a short bridge, just before (La Fenice opera house). The proprietor of the exclusive Antico Martini restaurant also owns this relaxed, affordable little place, which specializes in excellent familiar Italian dishes along with an impressive local wine list.
From anywhere in San Marco, you’ll see plenty of signs to help you find the Accademia Gallery which is worth seeing. The Gallerie dell’Accademia holds the world’s most important collection of Venetian art.
My favorite author of a guidebook on Italy, Pauline Frommer, writes the following: “Ironically, the world has Napoleon to thank for this splendid collection; the impressive display was moved here in 1807, when Bonaparte closed down the church and took over the oldest of the city’s six Scuole Grande (Confraternity halls), packing the building with a formidable inventory of artistic plunder from churches around the city. Among the many masterworks you’ll view are early Renaissance masters, Jacopo Bellini and his sons Giovanni and Gentile.”
In the same Dosoduro area, lovers of modern (contemporary) art, can head over to the world class Collezione Peggy Guggenheim at Calle San Cristofo. This is one of the world’s finest private art collections which is housed in the Palazzo Lenier dei Leoni. The collection includes works by Ernst, Giacometti, Henry Moore and Jean Arp.
We set aside one day to take a water taxi to the nearby island, Murano which is famous for their glass art. The only word of caution is to not be tempted to purchase from the first manufacturer that you tour. If you shop around just a little, you’ll notice a significant variance in prices for the same products. We did take time to witness an artist creating glass art. From Murano, you can take a water taxi to Burano which is well known for their lace goods.
We did take time out to eat. We never failed to set aside time to enjoy our daily gelato. There are plenty of cafes to eat a quick snack which includes delicious pizzas. Be forewarned that if you dine anywhere near San Marco Square, expect the bill to be pricey. In this case, Bruno the owner and our host at Locanda della Maria in Bellagio made a reservation for us at a family owned restaurant, Falciani Ristorante-Pizzeria located on San Marco Square 353; Tel +.39 041 5224872/ Fax+39 041 5209896; http://www.ristorantipiccin.it; Falciani @ristorantipiccin.it. We were treated like royalty with a private room but still with a view of the square. To welcome us, we were presented with Bellini drinks gratis. Everything that our host suggested to try was outstanding.
One evening, we were able to coax our reluctant friend into a gondola ride to watch the evening sunset. This does cost 80 euros for about an hour’s ride. The tour alone is worth the money.
After a three night stay under the enchanting spell of Venice, we were on the train to Florence.
The 56th International Art Exhibition will run 9th May to 22nd November 2015. The exhibition takes place at the Giardini, the Arsenale and in various locations.
Pauline Frommer, daughter of the Frommer guide books, also suggests a restaurant near St. mark’s Square, Osteria Enoteca San Marco ,Calle Frezzeria, San Marco; 30124 Venezia, Italy Phone:+39 041 528 5242. This restaurant has a high rating from Zagat.