St. Mark’s Square, Venice
Visiting Venice had always been a dream of mine and I was thrilled when last month, it finally turned into reality. Comfortably sitting in the middle of a lagoon on the Northeastern coast of Italy, Venice is unlike any other city in the whole world: it boasts a maze of winding canals where streets should be, secret alleyways that hide romantic escapades and awe-inspiring buildings that reflect its wealthy history as one of Europe’s once most important business centers.
The Gritti Palace, Venice
If you decide to explore the city by walking through its labyrinthine cobbled streets, you’ll almost inevitably get lost even when armed with the best of maps. But, there is no need to worry because all the streets in Venice inevitably lead to Saint Mark Square, the principal square of the city. This square has been described as the “most elegant drawing room in Europe” for its marble tiles and ornate buildings and it is the perfect place to congregate for a coffee and a chat with friends.
The piazza looks out onto the Grand Canal, the major water-traffic corridor in Venice. The Grand Canal snakes its way through the city in an S shape and is crossed by four bridges. The oldest of these bridges, which was built more than 400 years ago, is the Rialto Bridge, a picturesque piece of stone architecture surrounded by souvenir shops where tourists flock to buy a memento of their visit to this beautiful city.
Rialto Bridge, Venice
The only way to see the whole of the Grand Canal is by water, so I decided to rent a gondola, the traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian boat that looks like a narrow canoe. Gondolas have ben used as the chief means of transportation within the lagoon for centuries because they are so well suited to its conditions. These days, few locals still live in the city so only a small number of gondolas are privately owned, but these iconic boats still have a primary role to play in Venetian public transport. Now gondoliers, still dressed in their striped shirts and straw hats, mostly carry tourists like me on leisurely cruises along the canals – it really is the best way to admire the city (without getting lost!).
Palazzina G, Venice
If you’re looking for a nice hotel to stay during your sojourn in Venice, I highly recommend Palazzina G, a five-star hotel nestled in the heart of a sixteenth-century building facing out on the Grand Canal. The hotel features a champagne lounge, luxury mahogany boats, a private landing pier and a roof terrace, while the white rooms are decorated with Starck fixtures and fittings and more mirrors that I had ever seen in my entire life! It’s decadent rooms also host the hottest parties of the season, attended by the likes of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
Another hotel worth checking out is the Gritti Palace, a haven of wellness renowned for to its delicious food, relaxing spa and high-tech fitness center, which have attracted numerous celebrities to the hotel. The most famous of these celebrities must be George Clooney. It was here that in 2014, the world’s most eligible bachelor tied the knot to Amal Alamuddin. As for me, I only had a drink with friends here while overlooking the amazing view of the lagoon behind me.
In front of Cipriani Restaurant, Venice
Another must-visit place in Venice is the Cipriani restaurant, which is located just inside the Cipriani hotel. Its simple rooms, decorated with wooden ceilings and terracotta brick walls from which hang copper pots and pitchers, create a striking contrast with its opulent surroundings. The restaurant is well-known in the region for its fine selection of Italian wines, traditional fish-based dishes and homemade pasta. There is also a bakery that offers a variety of pastries, including cakes, meringues and chocolates. Everything on the menu is absolutely mouth-watering – I had to stop myself from ordering second portions!
My time in Venice was absolutely magical in every single way and I savoured every moment of it. I wish I had more than a short weekend to explore everything the city has to offer, but I guess I will just have to go back again and again – I can’t wait!
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