1. Campanile: It’s the city’s tallest building at 325 ft (99m) and is slap bang in the middle of one of the greatest tourist precincts in the world. Happily, it has a lift. From up here you can see the whole lagoon over to the Lido, the lovely jumble of the city’s rooftops, and on a clear day even the Dolomite Mountains in the distance.
2. Torre dell’Orologio: Also in San Marco, this clock tower dates from around 1500 and features the Madonna with magi and angels, who come out to bow to her on appropriate feast days. The tower reopened after restoration in 2007, but alas they did not install a lift; there are a lot of steep and narrow steps. You can only go to the top on a guided tour, booked through Museo Correr.
3. Rialto Bridge: I know, it’s not a rooftop, but the view up and down the Grand Canal from the middle of the Rialto Bridge is surely one of the greatest in the world. It’s the main road of the city and it’s mesmerizing to watch the vaporetto plunge between the water taxis, which weave amongst the barges bringing the city food, drink, furniture, bricks – anything you care to name.
4. Gabrielli Sandwirth Hotel: This is my favorite place to stay in Venice – a rambling, eccentric 14th century palazzo on the Riva Schiavoni with a fabulous roof terrace. The barman will even bring your drinks up here. I’ve spent many an hour with a cool drink and a full eye looking over the lagoon towards the magnificent Il Redentore and San Giorgio Maggiore churches.
5. Altana: These are the typical tiny terraces perched on the rooftops of Venetian houses. Here, in past centuries, the ladies of the house used to sit bleaching their hair in the sun – often with urine. These days the high platforms are more used for sightseeing. If you can find a hotel or friend with one, insist on being taken up to see the view.