Venice is made up of more than 115 islands, connected by countless bridges. You can walk between most of the islands, but to reach the island of San Giorgio Maggiore you need to take a boat.
Many churches in Venice are worth visiting for the art you’ll find inside, from the brilliant mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica to the Tintoretto paintings in Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore. But in the Church of San Sebastiano, it’s the ceiling you want to pay attention to.
In this guide, we’ve handpicked the very best of what makes Italy so special — both on and off the beaten path — so you can travel like an insider in Italy!
Most people know that Venice has long been known for making glass. Glass factories were moved to the smaller island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon in 1291 to prevent any potential fires from engulfing the whole city. Today, if you want to see glass blowing demonstrations and tour glass factories, you have to go to Murano – except, that is, if you want to see the factory of the last glass maker in Venice itself: Orsoni.
Italy is full of amazing wine, with every region producing at least some wines for local consumption if not export. If you’re in Venice, an excellent wine-centric day trip is in the Valpolicella wine zone just north of Verona, where they produce the sought-after Amarone.
Venice can be described as “haunting” just as easily as “magical.” After dark, the romance factor has a tendency to become potentially eerie — in ways both good and bad. It should surprise no one, therefore, that Venice has more than its fair share of ghost stories.
The story of Venice dates back to the time of Attila the Hun, but it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the canal city became one of only a few powerful city-states at the time. A tour highlighting the Renaissance era in Venice will give you a better understanding of how this small city rose to such power.
If you’ve heard of any opera house in Venice, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Teatro La Fenice, the famous theater that has burned down twice. There’s another opera house in Venice, however – Teatro Malibran – and it became a critical part of La Fenice’s second rebuilding process, when performances scheduled for La Fenice were held instead at Teatro Malibran. This 17th century theater, like Teatro La Fenice, is relatively unassuming from the outside and a jewel-box of a theater inside.
Probably the most popular place in Venice – the place for which day-trippers make a beeline upon disembarking from cruise ships or trains – is St. Mark’s Square. It’s not at the physical center of the islands, but it’s certainly the heart of the city. Most visitors will head for St. Mark’s Basilica, and rightly so – but did you know you can also climb up into the great church’s bell tower, too?
A city like Venice, built on the water and made up of hundreds of islands, is sure to have plenty of bridges – and it does. There are four famous bridges that cross the Grand Canal, but one of the city’s most famous bridges was once not open to the public. The short arch of the Bridge of Sighs was once, in effect, Venice’s prison bridge. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.