Understanding a city dissected by canals and knitted together by bridges.
Hotel: Gritti Palace
Built during the 15th century and overlooking the Canal Grande (the Grand Canal) and the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, staying at the gorgeous Gritti Palace is like traveling back in time. No expenses have been spared, and no artsy authentic detail has been overlooked. And if you’re hustle-and-bustled-out, you can have some downtime at the spa.
Museum: The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Piazza San Marco is packed with intrigue and deserves at least an entire afternoon (your Instagram needs a pigeon picture, after all), but the Doge’s Palace is the absolute centerpiece. A triumph of Gothic architecture, it includes lavish apartments, institutional chambers and old prisons; it takes you through to the famous Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), which allowed convicts being led to prison their last look at Venice. The view now is of a thousand selfie sticks, but still magnificent.
Gallery: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection offers a dazzling array of modern paintings and sculptures. The collection is in her namesake’s former home at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. Also, a small graveyard is the resting place of Peggy’s dogs: a surreal highlight of any tour.
Bookshop: Libreria Acqua Alta
The famous Libreria Acqua Alta has gondolas, bathtubs and any other large object that might be called upon to be filled with books … on every subject. A wall of battered encyclopedias sits outside, allowing tourists to climb for a panoramic view, and the owners’ army of cats keeps watch. You could take a gondola ride in Venice, but why not buy a book out of one?
Restaurant: Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta To Go
A 3-minute walk from Piazza San Marco, the best pasta joint in Venice, was previously known as Alfredo’s until the death of its beloved patriarch. Pick your pasta, sauce, and topping, and say “_sí_” when they ask if you want it _al dente_ (you’re getting it that way anyway, but they’ll respect you for saying so). Dal Moro’s is the pasta you came to Italy for.
Bar: Chet Bar
Venetian nightlife is a highly sophisticated affair, if charmingly indistinguishable from Venetian day life. Spritz (the classic Venetian aperitif), drinking and nibbling happen all day in every nook and cranny of the city. When you crave something different, visit Chet Bar in the center of Campo Santa Margherita for the punk decor and an unbeatable White Russian.
Live Venue: Laboratorio Occupato Morion
The center of counter-culture in Venice, Laboratorio Occupato Morion is home to live music, protests, and performance art. With its rebel reputation for drug-taking, smoking inside and unlicensed alcohol (not to mention permitting squatters), previous attempts by its neighbors in the Castello district to shut it down have never quite stuck. Events are posted almost exclusively through their [Facebook] page.
Cathedral: Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica)
A famously beautiful example of Italo-Byzantine architecture, and with great views of the city from the roof, you’ll want to queue early to visit San Marco. And dress appropriately (knees and shoulders covered) … or you’ll have to fish through the shame bucket for a smock.
Panorama: Ponte Rialto (The Rialto Bridge)
You must (and definitely will) cross two Venetian bridges: the Rialto and Accademia bridge. Stand and admire the water taxis and gondolas floating in the stretch of water beneath you, the grand buildings surrounding you, and the smell of food from the street markets wafting towards you. You’ll find that the unbeatable view from the Accademia bridge stretches out to the Adriatic Sea.