Venice, Italy is one of the most unique and beautiful places on Earth. A city built on water, Venice speaks of a time of opulence and great wealth, even as time and the elements continue to threaten her continued survival. Should you ever get the chance to visit Venice, here are five things you absolutely must do on your trip.
Yes, it is very expensive and very touristy. But you simply can't experience all that Venice has to offer without at least once riding a gondola down the Grand Canal and underneath the Rialto Bridge. Be sure to tip your gondolier for a serenade and an extra long journey. There are few more romantic experiences to be enjoyed in your lifetime.
Take a break from the frantic sightseeing and step inside any small cafe or bar to enjoy a Venetian specialty cocktail, the "Spritz." Made with Prosecco, orange and Aperol, this refreshing and light drink will lift your spirits and invigorate you for the rest of the day. Try to find a place serving "Cichetti" to enjoy with your Spritz as well. Cichetti are small, light bites meant to be eaten in the late afternoon or early evening before dinner such as rice balls, marinated olives, fried fish and miniature sandwiches.
Smart travelers know to book tickets for the special "Secret Itineraries" tour when exploring and sightseeing around Piazza San Marco. This tour takes one deep inside the Doge's Palace, down "secret passageways" and into hidden chambers used by administrative officials looking to avoid the public and prying eyes. See actual, ancient torture chambers, and visit prison cells where legend tells the infamous Cassanova was held before he eventually escaped Venice authorities.
Many visitors to Venice never leave the main island to explore the other islands of the lagoon, each of which has its own personality. While Murano is popular for its glass, history buffs should see the nearly deserted Torcello, the first island of the Venetian lagoon which was settled. Burano, with its brightly painted homes and tiny lace shops, is also a treat. Beach lovers may wish to relax on the Lido in the summertime as well.
Getting lost in Venice's narrow alleys and winding streets is almost unavoidable. But if you do get lost, down worry - there's only so far you can go! Relax and simply enjoy exploring, and you might discover a tiny gem of a cafe or trattoria far from the tourist crowds.
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