The Ultimate Self-Guided Venice Walking Tour
Have you got a few hours only to explore Italy’s famous floating city? Then check out this ultimate walking tour to give you an idea of how you could optimize your brief visit to Venice.
Known also as one of the top walkable cities in the world, Venice is perfect for exploring on foot. The hidden gems in its narrow alleys and the fine architecture that is ornately erected in its myriad of squares can only be perceived through the eyes of someone akin to a merchant of Venice who roams around this romantic labyrinth, finding pleasure at the mere glance of every peculiarity he finds.
Such are the fine craftsmanship and artistry that are looming about in every nook you come into when you step onto the vast platform along the Canal Grande.
Right around this historic waterway are assorted displays of paintings, artfully depicted by Venetian artists in honor of the city that has supported their passion. Captivating sceneries of gondolas along the canal, of the sun setting beyond Venice’ famous square, Piazza San Marco, of pigeons flying about the Baroque church of Santa Maria del Giglio, and more, painted in oil or pastel and sold in various prices, starting at 20 Euros for a size of 12” x 16” that is easy to fit in the backpack.
Seeing the paintings would give you an idea of the landmarks you may want to visit, like Piazza San Marco or Rialto Bridge, just to name a few. Having a destination in mind will give you the direction you will need amid Venice’ overwhelming labyrinth.
If you go to Piazza San Marco, keep a lookout on the signboards and painted arrows leading to this principal square. It takes about 45 minutes from the main entrance to the canal, connected to the Venezia Santa Lucia Train Station. So, be prepared for the marvels you will encounter along the way.
In the alleys are quaint bars and cafes where you could stop for a quick drink and snacks. While these locally owned establishments are not situated along the most coveted canal, they nonetheless promise a unique Venetian experience and potentially a precious and personal connection to this world-renowned city.
Moving forward, you will find shops of artisan ceramicware produced in front of you by its artists, who are usually a family that continues the legacy of their founding generation. You will also find shops selling accessories with Murano glass, the quintessential hot-blown glass of Italy. Look for proof of origin if you want an original piece of Murano so you are sure it is authentic.
Another craft that is home to Venice is stylography, or the art of writing, drawing, or engraving with style using a fountain pen. Thus, several shops on every block sell handcrafted fountain pens, colorful inks in bottles, beautifully bound sketching notebooks, and meticulously designed stamps, a valuable souvenir and a tradition to sustain.
Highlighting another Venetian tradition is the wearing of masks. Made with papier mache and ceramic, this historic craft holds a prominent symbol of freedom and social equality yet serves for playful and cunning intentions during these contemporary times.
After encompassing the fascinating alleyways and picturesque canals for about a couple of hours, you should have already arrived at Rialto, the oldest bridge in Venice since its original conception in the 12th century and its grand reconstruction in the 16th century.
At Rialto, you will find more shops selling Murano glasses, masks, fountain pens, gelato or traditional Italian ice cream, and pizza al taglio (sliced pizza) on the go. A couple of blocks ahead is the biggest and most prolific public square in Venice, Piazza San Marco.
Known as St. Mark’s Square in English, this principal square underwent expansion in the 13th century to accommodate Venetian merchants. It houses most of Venice’s historical sites, primarily the 11th-century St. Mark’s Basilica, the medieval Doge’s Palace, the Renaissance building of Procurate Vecchie, the National Archeological Museum of Venice, the Clock Tower, and the Museo Correr.
While exploring the historic buildings in Piazza San Marco may require more time, you may just as well cap your brief visit to Venice if you have to and head toward the boat terminal nearby, where you could get on a Vaporetto or Venetian water bus to take you to the main public transport terminal and to the train station. This way, you also get to see more of Venice more relaxedly.
As you will discover for yourself, Venice is a vast archipelagic city that deserves to experience for a week at least. But given the brief time you have, you could either own up your place and call it your ultimate walking tour of Venice, or you could plan your next optimal trip, preferably in summer when this romantic city is sure to remain afloat and dry so you could enjoy a longer, exciting and fascinating holiday.
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