Rising from the waters of Venice Lagoon is a place like no other, The Italian city of Venice.
Once the world’s greatest port, here, protected from the swells of the Adriatic, Venetian merchants created an impossible cityof incredible wealth.
Long hailed as the most breathtaking cityon earth, there is no denying that sometimes, Venice can be overwhelmed with admirers.
But if you take your time, and treat her gently, she will reward you with moments of profoundbeauty and bliss.
Most visits begin in the central districtof San Marco, where you’ll find one of the world’s greatsquares, St Marks.
Arrive with the dawn, and the piazza willbe yours to enjoy, without the crowds.
St Mark’s Square is surrounded by some ofthe city’s finest architectural jewels.
But there are none greater than St Mark’sBasilica, a treasure house of holy relics, from thebody of St Mark, to a lock of The Virgin Mary’s hair.
St Mark was known as Mark the Lionhearted, and everywhere you turn in Venice you’llsee this proud symbol.
Across from the Basilica, stands the city’sbeloved bell tower, St Mark’s Campanile.
Climb the tower to see Venice stretch outin all her marble and red-tiled splendor, …all the way to the far-off Pyrenees.
Below the tower, is one of the city’s greatlandmarks, Doge’s Palace.
For centuries this VenetianGothic masterpiece was the seat of the republic’s power andprestige.
Today, its courtyards, apartments and chambers area museum, which celebrates centuries of Venetian achievementand glory.
Just outside, stand the Columns of San Marcoand San Teodoro, the traditional gateway to the city.
Here, under the Winged of Lion of Venice, begin your journey along one of the world’sgreat aquatic thoroughfares, The Grand Canal.
For almost two and a half miles, the canal winds through Venice, …it is hermain artery, her lifeblood.
Ride the Vaporetto dell’ Arte and explorethe canal’s treasures at your leisure.
Or ride in true Venetian style, by gondola, which Mark Twain once called, the gentlest form of locomotion ever devised.
Near the canal’s southern mouth, rises the graceful dome of Santa Maria dellaSalute.
Beset by plague in the 17th century, Venice turned to the Spirit of Mother Maryfor deliverance.
The plague lifted, and grateful Venetiansraised this new church in her honor.
All along the canal, elegant palazzos, once the homes of wealthy merchants, slip by as if in a dream.
The timeless wake of river traffic laps attheir doorsteps, just as it has for centuries.
Today, many of the Palazzos, are home to museumsand galleries.
Ca Rezzonico allows visitors to experiencethe opulence of 18th century Venice.
While Palazzo Grassi’s bold restorationand artworks are the perfect reflection of a city thatcherishes its past, and embraces the new.
Venice has a way of capturing hearts.
In the 1940s, American heiress, Peggy Guggenheim, made her home on the Grand Canal.
Today herpassion for Venice lives on, through her incredible collection of modernart, which brings joy to the hundreds of art loverswho visit each day.
Venice is known as The City Of Bridges, many of which are works of art too.
The Accademia Bridge links the San Marco districtto the Accademia Gallery, and offers some of the Grand Canal’s finestviews.
The oldest of the Grand Canal’s four crossings, is The Rialto Bridge.
For over three hundred years this was theonly way to cross the canal on foot, and today still stands as the grand gatewayto the Rialto Markets.
Away from the Grand Canal there are hundredsmore bridges to explore, from the purely functional, to the breathtaking.
The most famous of all, connects Doge’s Palace to the historic prison.
From the enclosed walkway, the condemned would capture one last lookat their beloved city, and sigh, …hence the name, the Bridge ofSighs.
Venice is a city to get lost in, so put away your map and let her surpriseyou.
Follow winding alleyways that suddenly emergeinto quiet piazzas and onto the steps of ancient churches.
In the central area of San Marco, discover cultural treasures like the TeatroLa Fenice, which despite being destroyed three timesby fire, arose from the ashes each time, just likeits namesake.
The further you roam, the fewer travellersyou’ll see and the more locals you’ll meet.
These are the places, where the city surrendersits most intimate pleasures… When the city’s embrace becomes too tight, there are places to catch your breath, …like the waterfront promenades …or the sleepy canals and spacious piazzasof Castello.
Venice was long the epicenter of Europeanglassmaking.
Fearing an inferno, in the 13th century Venice relocated all herglassmakers to the island of Murano.
700 years later, the decedents of these artisans still createworks of incredible delicacy and color.
Further across the lagoon, is another island famed for its color, the tiny island of Burano.
Legend has it, that fishermen painted their houses in distinctivecolors so they could find their way home throughthe lagoon’s fogs.
While here, shop for some of the island’sexquisite lace, just as Leonardo da Vinci did when he visitedin 1481.
From the adventures of Marco Polo and Casanova, to the artistry of Vivaldi and Bellini, Venice has shone her light into thefar corners of the world for over one and a halfthousand years.
And now, the world comes to her.
Just remember, Venice smiles upon those who linger.
So stayfor a few nights, or stay for a month, and savor every sweet moment she has to offer.