If you had fallen in love with a city in your dreams and was still searching for its name after you woke up, it ought to be Venice. Situated at the northern end of Italy, Venice represents heritage, history, romance, architecture and art to its fullest.We had around 3 days to check out this beautiful city of Venice during our Eastern Europe tour in Sep 2015. Venice was our point of entry and exit for our family holidays during September 2015. With enough research, I had prepared this list of places and sights to see since we knew time was short.
Quick Tour of Venice : What to see ? Here is the basic list.
Day 1 : San Marco Piazza : Venice
The San Marco Piazza is the most prominent Tourist center of Venice. Located next to the San Zaccaria waterbus stop, San Marco is a humdrum of people and one of the busiest of the island city. It is approachable by foot as well as by waterways. Most routes for the AcTV waterbuses reach San Marco. Waterbus No’s 1 and 2 are the more frequently used since these two reach almost all the favored tourist destinations in Venice. And Venice is all about tourists. They throng everywhere, in every different colour and creed. The busiest destination is San Marco. Here you will be surrounded by happy faces , jostling for space, selfie sticks rising up from every angle, people with large DSLRs finding that unique angle to snap, lovers holding on to each other’s arms, older gentry looking up at the Campanile, and peddlers selling their wares.
Reach San Marco Piazza with about 4 hours in hand. The square and its pedestrian walkways throng with tourists of every country. Hawkers hawk and restaurants and bistros around the Piazza call you indoors. You can hitch up the elevator to the top of the Campanile but it is 7 Euros a head. (Se 2015). Soak up the sounds, smell, art and architecture of the Piazza. This is a lifetime experience and do not hurry.
As the evening dulls down and the last of the sun’s rays colour the horizon, the lights all around the Piazza light up and transforms the compound. Restaurants and shops light up the Piazza and classical Italian music performed live at these different high end restaurants wafts through from all different corners. People throng and gather and clap to motivate the performers and the atmosphere changes to a spell of a musical evening. For an hour, the singers and musicians enthrall the audiences, till around 8.30 the crowds thin out and by 10 pm the courtyard stands deserted with only the eateries and adjoining shops doing business. I believe this is one sight not to miss or experience and the same can be felt around sunrise when you will find the cleaning staff brushing and sweeping the square and photographers with their cameras and tripods working out their compositions The best (and a bit on the higher side on cost) would be to stay at the San Marco District though Castellano seems a good option too. There are two water boat stations in the Castellano district namely Arsenal and the Giorgio Biennale. We had booked our apartment here and from here , it is a leisurely 10 minutes’ walk to the San Marco Piazza.
Sail on The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is everywhere in Venice and as it snakes and slides across Venice and is the lifeline which runs Venice
with its inlets and tributaries most of the day , plying tourists and local from one jetty to another.
Day 2 : Santa Maria Basilica and boat rides to Murano and Burano. Venice
Reach the San Zaccaria water boat stop in front of San Marco. The stop across the water bay is at Santa Maria Basilica . In order to reach there you should take the waterbus to ‘Salute’. The church is open usually till 11 am and reopens after 1 pm. One needs to learn the timings beforehand.
Murano and Burano are islands on the Adriatic, easily reachable from Venice. To reach either of these islands, you catch waterbus No-14 from San Marco. You can also hop into lines 4.2 and 5.2 from Fondamenta Nuove. The fare is around 7 Euros a head each way. Burano lies further away from Venice and the journey is about 45 minutes into the Adriatic.
Murano is famed for its glass making factories, and at every corner you will find shops selling glassware. One point to remember, the same artifacts are also available at different corners of Venice. Before buying the items, please make sure that “Made in China” is not stamped at the back of the item.
Burano, on the other hand is famous for its lacework. You can see immaculate full length dresses made of lace on display at different showrooms and windows as you pace up and down the colourful central street which dots this island. Why I would prefer to go to Burano last during the evening is because it looks best in the golden sunset and will be a photographer’s delight.
One should target to reach there during the evening and then you can see a myriad of colours everywhere, from the reflections in the waterway of its main canal, the prettily lined houses and shops bordering it, the maze of colours that the boats create on the waterway to the clouds over the Adriatic.
Take a walk along the main canal within Burano. It is lined with gift shops, lace houses, eateries and restaurants and pubs. There are small bridges every hundred meters to cross over to the other side of the canal. Enjoy a light snacks over a Beer at one of its restaurants and check the colours change across the horizon.
If I am short of time and need to choose between the islands of Murano or Burano, I would choose Burano.
Day 3 : Art and Shopping : Venice is a city of museums and a shoppers paradise
If you have time to visit only one museum in Venice, it has to be the Academia Galleria . This is situated at the Academia boat stop, a short hop from San Marco, San Zaccaria and is also two stops from Salute.
The collections cover the towering masters of Venetian Art, paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries, and are housed in the gallery space of Venice’s Academia della Belle Arte (Academy of Fine Arts), established in 1750 in the former Scuola della Carità chapterhouse and convent attached to the (deconsecrated) Santa Maria della Carità church.
Here we can see works from late 15th and early 16th centuries, including pieces by Giovanni Bellini, Cima da Conegliano, and Carpaccio’s Crucifixion and Glorification of the Ten Thousand Martyrs of Mount Ararat. This is a delightful two hour tour with the Masters of Italian and European art.
Some of the famous paintings displayed here are :
- Coronation of the Virgin by Paolo Veneziano (1310–1362)
- The Camerlenghi Madonna by Giovanni Bellini (1430–1516)
- Procession of the Relinquary of the True Cross in Piazza San Marco by Genile Bellini (1429–1507)
- The Dream of St Ursula by Vittore Carpaccio (c1465–1526)
- The Tempest by Giorgione (1476–1510)
- Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple by Titian (c1480–1576)
- Portrait of a Melancholic Young Man by Lorenzo Lotto (c1480–1556)
- Miracle of St Mark Freeing the Slave by Jacopo Tintoretto (1519–1594)
- The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine by Paolo Veronese (1528–1588)
- Fire at San Marcuola by Francesco Guardi (1712–1793)
To top it all, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Vitruvian Man”, a canon of proportions is also housed here but does only see the light of day on some very special occasions. The ticket is charged at Euros 15 (Sep 2015)per head for 6 year olds onward. A guided tour at your preferred language costs 6 Euros a piece. There is no reason to pre-book tickets. The Galleria dell’Accademia is open seven days a week; Tuesday to Sunday, hours are 10.00 AM to 19.15 PM, whereas on Monday the gallery is open between 10.00 AM and 02.00 PM only. You have lockers in the Gallery to store any luggage. They are free but you need a 1 Euro coin to operate. Since July 1, 2014, the first Sunday of each month you don’t have to pay the ticket to visit monuments, museums, galleries, archaeological digs, parks and gardens classified as national monuments. The home page for the Gallery is here:
Shopping : A huge attraction for tourists in Venice
What is a tour if you haven’t done any shopping? In order to shop the main target should be to go down to the market at Rialto Bridge.(Rialto Mercato Stop)Reach here in the afternoon, haggle and negotiate with the traders and buy to your heart’s content. Italian leather items, glasswork, laces and dress items, artifacts and memorabilia’s, curios and magnets, masks and hats, shoes and cosmetics, you name it and they have it.
If you are coming from the Academia, you can hitch onto waterbus line no 1 or line no 2 and Rialto is about 20 minutes off. You can also walk along the maze of narrow lanes and canals from the San Marco and is still about a 20 minutes of leisurely walk. This is the cheapest market to buy in Venice and it is advisable to haggle and bargain till you achieve to reduce around 25% of price.
A Gondola Ride: Tour of the city of Venice through its waterways
What is Venice if you haven’t rode on one of its Gondolas? In case you are visiting this romantic and intriguing city with your newlywed wife or your partner, you need to hitch on a gondola. Well if that’s the plan, be ready to spare some costly Euros. The gondola rides are usually between 80 to 110 Euros , and it allows a maximum seating of six persons. So if you are travelling in a group you can surely share the cost. The gondolas have well marked stations near the popular touristy and waterbus stops and the charges are fixed. In case you are hitching into one from somewhere else, please clarify the price specifically with the gondolier. I have heard of stories where the gondoliers try to fleece the gullible tourist.. Plan to start at San Marco and finish near Rialto Bridge, all around Venice on the Grand Canal. This is an experience to cherish. You can also request your boatman to sing a love song!!!
Sail on The Grand Canal
The traghettos and the vaporettis are a easy and quick option for sightseeing around Venice. Similar to a hop on hop off buses, there is an all day ATV Card for 20 euroes. The time starts from the first check in. Use this to your fullest and travel all across Venice.
I hope you all liked my short itinerary of A Quick Tour of Venice in 3 days !! Would love to hear your comments. 🙂