Venice: City of Dreams

The featured image is sourced from Flickr.
Venice, despite its fame across the world, remains an underestimated city. So much more than a romantic weekend getaway, Venice combines the charm of modern Italy with the magic of a past steeped in maritime conquests, crusades, and luxury trading. The city’s unique architecture and its rich traditions in art, literature, and music all combine to make Venice an exceptionally interesting city, and a perfect destination for group trips as well as individual travel.
There is no denying the appeal Venice holds for couples.  Hometown of legendary seducer and adventurer Casanova, Venice has a long-standing reputation for romance. Nowadays, it is even possible to get married on a 1920s version of Juliet’s balcony in nearby Verona.
Literature & Art
Venice has served as an inspiration to artists all over the world. Shakespeare’s Othello and The Merchant of Venice are both set in Venice; Ben Jonson, Voltaire, Anne Rice, and Thomas Mann use it as the backdrop for some of their work Venice was home to the painters Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto, and Tiepolo, whose works can be visited in churches around the city, and also in the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
The region’s rich trading history means that Venice is still a fantastic place to purchase silks and other fabrics; some of the stalls by the old port sell souvenirs such as hand-painted silk scarves and ties, watercolour paintings of ports and waterways, and impressive hand-crafted jewellery. Murano island, which can be reached by boat or vaporetto, offers glass-blowing demonstrations.
Venetian architecture is absolutely unique, combining both Gothic and Oriental influences. A good tip for getting the most out of its major attractions is to avoid visiting at peak time. Why not plan a trip to St. Mark’s Square and Basilica before breakfast? The early morning view from the Campanile, the tower of St. Mark’s Basilica and highest point of Venice, is a truly magical experience.
Antonio Vivaldi composed in Venice, and music lovers will be enchanted by La Fenice and the Teatro Malibran, both of which have at least two concert seasons per year. The Teatro Toniolo in Mestre puts on both symphony and chamber works throughout the year.
James Bond & historical action
There is much more to Venice’s history than love, romance, and art. The recent Bond movie Casino Royale took the British action hero into the City of Bridges, where he followed in the footsteps of some of the major maritime players of the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. Venice’s maritime museums, which tell the tale of the crusades, the battle of Lepanto, and the construction of highly advanced sailing fleets, are well worth a visit.
With fantastic Italian food on every corner, and ice cream shops and cocktail bars located just above the water, gourmet pleasures are pretty much a given. The best ice cream in Venice can be found on the island of Buretto (a stone’s throw away from Muretto), where visitors can devour their cold delicacies while enjoying a walk along the uniquely colourful houses on the west side of the island.
For those interested in seeing what ‘real’ Italian food is like (and what ingredients are used), a trip to Rialto market is another worthwhile daytrip. Why not try an unusual seafood delicacy instead of pasta?
So what are the options for a trip to Venice?
Group travel, whether for a couple of days as part of one of the increasingly popular European cruise packages offered by various cruise companies – or as a dedicated trip ­– is another option. Opportunities for day trips in the region provide variety, and the chance to see beyond Venice’s traditional tourist attractions. Venice caters to all interests, whether one would like a luxury stay in one of the many 5* hotels and spas, or affordable accommodation in a hostel.
Whether travelling as a couple, a family, or as a group, booking early is key. The spring and summer months especially are a popular time, so top hotel suites tend to be sparse. Basic double rooms however are always available – although it is definitely worth checking out some travel websites to compare available hotels.