Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of Venice-area attractions. The Greater Venice
area is full of attractions for all ages. More than 100 separate islands interspersed by
some 150 canals with at least 400 bridges make Venice a navigational challenge for anyone
attempting to see as many attractions as possible in what inevitably is too short a stay.
No matter how much time is allotted, this city of romance has a way of making visitors feel
their sojourn should be longer, the better to become lost in Venice -- happily, soulfully
steeped in the watery maze of a surrealistic city like no other. For those who like to
keep their bearings, signage just about everywhere along the narrow streetscapes points
the way to major landmarks like the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark's, the train station and the
heart of the city. Central Venice divides into a half dozen neighborhoods -- Castello,
Dorsoduro, Cannaregio, Castello, Santa Croce and San Polo. Addresses often give the nearest
street, bridge, or plaza, and when a street runs along a canal it carries a “riva” or
“fondamenta” designator. Streets with shops are often tagged as “ruga” or “salizzada.”
Grandest of all waterways, the Grand Canal -- its boat moorings look like peppermint sticks --
winds from the Piazzetta San Marco to the rail station. Midway, the Grand Canal is spanned by
the Rialto Bridge, and its entire length is filled with motorboats, vaporetti and gondolas.
Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the Venice Metropolitan Area,
with links to more details when available.
- Academy Gallery
From Titian to Tintoretto, from Giorgione to Veronese, the Academy has representative works from its Venetian sons in a remarkable collection of paintings spanning the 13th to 18th centuries.
Campo della Carita, Dorsodura. (041) 522-2247
- Caffe Florian
Built in 1720, Caffe Florian's Art Nouveau décor, plush red banquettes, and elaborate murals serve as a timeless backdrop for lunch, afternoon tea and libations extending into the night. Lord Byron was a regular, as was Casanova, often stopping by in search of female company. Dickens, Proust, Stravinsky, Modigliani and others also made Caffe Florian a second home. (Caffe Florian also has gone to sea, now operating a replica annex aboard Costa's CostaAtlantica.)
Piazza San Marco 56-59. (041) 520-5641
Once truly a Golden House with ornaments trimmed in pure gold, this Venetian Gothic palace was created in 1434 by Marino Contarini for his wife. A 19th-century Russian prince later presented it to dancer Maria Taglioni, adding to her collection of palaces along the Grand Canal. Its final proprietor left Ca' d'Oro to the city, after filling it with antiquities, sculptures and paintings on exhibit as Galleria Franchetti. One detached fresco on display was created by a young Titian for what is now the main post office.
Calle Ca' d'Oro, Cannaregio 3933. (041) 522-2349
- Doge's Palace
Begun in the 12th century and continuously remodeled, this pink and white marble palace represents the most glorious period of Venice in terms of prosperity and power. The ceiling of the Senate Chamber features The Triumph of Venice by Tintoretto.
Square San Marco. (041) 522-4951
- Gran Caffe Lavena
Composer Richard Wagner composed his greatest operatic works at the Gran Caffe Lavena, known for its ornate chandelier. Excellent tables are near the windows in front and great ice cream is available at the bar. Tables outside on the piazza carry a hefty cover charge. Historically, gondoliers also have hung out here.
Piazza San Marco 133-134. (041) 522-4070
- Harry's Bar
What Sloppy Joes is to Key West, Harry's Bar is to Venice as being among the favored watering holes of Ernest Hemingway. Lore has it that carpaccio, in its raw, beefy Hemingway-esque glory, was invented here. Harry's is also known for its fresh peach juice and sparkling wine Bellinis, which the author called suitable for sissies. The Burtons, Bogart and Bacall were regulars here, and celebrities still stop by, often during film and art festivals.
Calle Vallaresso, San Marco 1323. (041) 528-5777
- The Lido
While the fashionable set still checks into area hotels such as the Hotel des Bains and The Excelsior, this beach strip area has become quite touristy. Sands are inviting, but waters are too polluted for swimming. On the Lido is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, established in 1386 with a surviving gravestone from 1389.
Visits can be arranged by calling (041) 715-359
- Naval History Museum
Cannons, ship models and pieces of vessels dating to when Venice reigned supreme on the Adriatic beckon from the Naval History Museum, housing a gilded model of the Bucintoro. This fabulous ship of the doge is said to have made Cleopatra's famed barge look like a tanker. Also displayed are two dozen Chinese junks and maritime paintings.
Campo San Biasio, Castello 2148. (041) 520-0276
- Peggy Guggenheim Museum
Housed in the former home of the late Peggy Guggenheim -- an unfinished palazzo -- museum works have been identified as among the Western world's most comprehensive modern art collections. Paintings include those by Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Ernst, Duchamp, Mondrian, Pollock and others. Guggenheim, who married artist Max Ernst, was founder of the avant-garde Art of This Century Gallery in New York.
Calle Venier dei Leoni, Dorsoduro. (041) 240-5411
- Rialto Bridge
Competition in the 1500s to build a stone bridge across the Grand Canal to replace wood predecessors drew top architects including Michelangelo. Wars against the Turks and ocean trade route exploration had depleted coffers, and Antonio da Ponte, a comparative unknown, got the job with his simple design to keep a lid on costs. The Rialto railing yields one of the city's most famous Grand Canal views.
- Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari
Completed in the 1400s after more than a century of labor, this Gothic brick church houses Giovanni Bellini's 1488 triptych Madonna and Child with Saints, among other treasured works including Titian's Madonna di Ca' Pesaro, which took nearly a decade to complete.
Campo del Frari. (041) 272-8618
- St. Mark's Square
Rather than being a strict rectangle, St. Mark's Square is wider at the basilica end. The long arcaded Procuratie Vecchie was built in the early 16th century for magistrates of San Marco, and the Procuratie Nuove was built a half century later. Napoleon, upon entering Venice with troops in 1797, called Piazza San Marco the “world's most beautiful drawing room.” He then ordered it redecorated, and his architects razed a 16th century church to make room for the Napoleonic wing. St. Mark's Square's several cafes are excellent for taking tea while enjoying live music as sunlight moves across the piazza.
Square San Marco. (041) 522-5697
- Teatro San Gallo
In the right corner of St. Mark's square farthest from the cathedral, the Teatro San Gallo presents a continuous multimedia history of Venice with live performers. The three evening shows are two hours and include a meal with unlimited beverage.
San Marco 1098. (044) 7956 189 233 (UK time)