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Things to Do in Venice


               Photo: Gondolas in Venice, Italy
“A fairy city of the heart” was how Lord Byron once described Venice. La Serenissima, “The Most Serene” is an enchanting city — a giant palace that seems to float in water. Gently lapping waters of the canals lace the city. In Venice — cars are banned. Every mode of transportation literally floats — water taxis, vaporetti (the public “bus” ferries), and even ambulance speedboats and garbage scows. Venice is also a city of great art and grand old masters such as the Bellini clan. Water and art appear to be popular tourist attractions as a stream of never-ending visitors have been flocking to Venice for more than 1,500 years. Their visits often exceed their expectations. La Serenissima is extraordinary, magical, and definitely worth every cent.

Venice is a visual treat. The list of sights and attractions worth seeing seem endless. However, the city is also notorious for changing and extending the opening hours of its museums and churches. It is strongly suggested that tourists check with the tourism office for the season’s list of museum and church hours.

The most popular attraction in Venice is the gondola ride. It is perhaps safe to say that it will be the thrill of a lifetime for kids and adults alike. The only drawback of the ride’s popularity is that it has become a little expensive. The alternative to this is the convenient and far less expensive vaporetto, or water taxi. Though almost similar, they offer two entirely different experiences. The vaporetto provides a utilitarian journey down Venice’s aquatic Main Street, the Grand Canal, while the gondola offers the chance to see Venice through the back door. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the special gondolas filled with flowers and rowed by gondolieri in livery delivering a happy bride and groom from the church.

Feeding the pigeons in Piazza San Marco is also a spectacular experience. A purchase of a simple bag of corn guarantees that you’ll be draped in pigeons in less than a second. Provided they do not have any weird aversions to birds, this could be the epitome of a child’s visit to Venice. It is also a great photo opportunity for visitors!

If you’re looking for an educational experience while still maintaining a recreational atmosphere, the island of Murano is the perfect destination. The island’s thousand-year-old art of glassblowing is a great entertainment — and for free. However, beware for the sure sales pitch that follows.

Be sure to visit the Campanille di San Marco and ride its elevator to the very top for a breathtaking view of Venice’s rooftops and church cupolas or to get a closer look at the four bronze horses on the façade of the Basilica San Marco. Children would also enjoy the ship models and old vessels that can be found at the Museo Navale & Arsenale.

As you explore Venice, make sure to bring only the essentials. Toss the map and guide in your bag and get blissfully lost in their many back calli (streets) and uncrowded campi (squares) where very few tourists wander and where you will truly encounter the living, breathing, and glorious side of the most serene city.

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