Here everyday travel is made into a fairytale experience. This is the city that captured the imagination of Vivaldi and Canaletto €“ of Turner and Tintoretto.
Taking the Vaporetto Number 1 from the Piazzalle Roma to Lido is a slow progression down the Grand Canal giving visitors the opportunity to view the grand palaces from the water. So little has changed in this city over the centuries that you are transported back into the paintings of Canaletto €“ to an age of intrigue and mystery. You can view the buildings that he looked at and imagine yourself as an aristocrat of the day being rowed in your private gondola to a secret assignation.
Gliding under the Rialto Bridge which is crowded with shops and tourists hurrying to get a snapshot of the passing gondolas leaves you breathless and back in the modern world. Mixing with the locals who are trying to go about their day to day business gives a sense of urgency to this vibrant city.
The first view of St. Mark's Square with its grand piazza fronting onto the lagoon takes your breath away €“ it is the grand finale before crossing the open waters to the beaches. First to catch the eye is the shell pink Palazzo Ducale with its sinister Bridge of Sighs which gave the condemned their last view of freedom before being cast into the dungeons. The square is dominated by the Campanile or Bell Tower and St. Mark's Basilica €“ here you will also find the famous cafes of Quadri and Caffe Florian where, for a price, you are serenaded by a live orchestra whilst sipping your coffee or aperitif. Hours can just slip away people watching and chatting with friends.
Not too far from the square is the La Fenice €“ the theatre that lives up to its name €śThe Phoenix€ť as it has burned down twice in the past and has risen each time from the ashes. This is open to the public to take a guided tour which tells of the history and tragedy of this well known landmark.
Shopping is an intimate experience as small boutiques and shops line the narrow calles - there are no departmental stores and this gives the impression of a more gentle experience. Designer shops rub shoulders with tiny bars and restaurants. Tourist shops abound with the masks and plastic gondolas which are a must for the visitor to take home as a memento of their visit. This is a city that requires time to explore as the only way to get around is on foot. Royalty, film stars and the rich and famous must all take to the pavements to shop
After a trip across the lagoon one reaches the Lido and the beaches belonging to the five star hotels which cling to this narrow strip of land facing the Adriatic and backing onto the quieter waters of the lagoon. This thin strip of land protects Venice from the full force of the storms and tides. This is the world of the film €śDeath in Venice€ť where Dirk Bogarde died on the beach at sunset dreaming of the youth that he adored from afar.
Glass is the product of this city and a visit to Murano or Burano is a must. Here one can see the process of glass blowing and see the magnificent pieces that are sold throughout the world for thousands of pounds but you can also buy smaller pieces to take home.
Torcello is another of the islands that should be visited with its cathedral founded in the seventh century which captures the glory of Venice's Byzantine Empire days. This tiny island is now the home of only twenty or thirty people but was a thriving Byzantine metropolis of 20,000 inhabitants. Rivalry with neighbouring Venice and successive malaria epidemics ravaged the island and caused its terminal decline.
Venice has so much to offer - it captures the hearts and minds of visitors making them want to return time and time again.