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Venice Travel Guide - Sights to See
Venice is a fairytale city of islands and gondolas where the canals are lined with palaces. During the 5th Century, the political climate of this area was so insecure that the population deemed it wisest to move to the swamps and build their houses on stilts in the water... and so Venice got its start. The Venice we know today is from a much later era...an era rich with the accumulated spoils of the Crusaders and the Venetian merchants. The rulers of Renaissance Venice made her the "Mistress of the Adriatic" and the many monuments erected in those days attest to their vast profits. While Florence was developing as the intellectual city of the Renaissance, Venice was developing as "fun city" and became a natural gateway for trade between the East and the West. Venice is a very "walkable" city.

Transportation: The Gondolas are very expensive. Instead use the water taxi or "Vaporetto." The #1 line makes every stop on the Grand Canal. The #2 line is faster and makes fewer stops. Lines #3 and #4 are still faster. Line #5 goes to the island of Murano.

Caution: Venice is supported entirely by tourism and the Venetians have come up with ingenious ideas on how to get more of your money. There may be little "extras" that will surprise you. Be prepared and swing with it.

The Grand Canal: This is the major canal of Venice and is lined with over 200 palaces. As you travel its length, you'll be able to see how the water has eaten away at the buildings and how much they have sunken.

Rialto Bridge: This is the largest, and handsomest bridge across the Grand Canal. It is lined with interesting shops.

Piazza San Marco: Long lines & huge crowds at all attractions. The largest and most famous piazza in Venice. You'll see lots of tourists and pigeons plus some major sights. St. Mark's Basilica dominates the piazza and is named for the Patron Saint of the city. It is referred to as the "church of gold" and is surely one of the most embellished structures in Europe. It's a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, which took over 700 years to build. On the outer terrace are the famous "Four Horses" which are thought to be Greek works from the 3rd century. During a war with Venice, Napoleon took them to Paris, but they were later returned. The horses that you will see are copies, because the originals (now inside) were being destroyed by the elements. Also on this square is the Palace of the Doges (9-4 PM daily), a 16th century reconstruction of the original 14th century palace. Here, sat the Council of Ten who governed Venice. Their form of justice was often torture and execution. The private quarters in the palace are aglow with frescoed walls and ceilings, including works by Veronese, Titian, and Tintoretto. Dungeons below the palace are connected to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs, so named because of the sad lament (sigh) of the prisoners as they paused here and took their last look at the city before being led across to torture and death. The palace is covered almost entirely in rose-colored stone. The Winged Lion of San Marco in the central piazza stands atop a granite column, which came from Constantinople. The column was a prominent spot for executions. The Campanile or Bell Tower is a reconstruction of the original, which collapsed in 1902. Travel to the top, via elevator, for a splendid view of the city and the outer islands. The Clock Tower, where the carved figures of the Moors have been striking the same bell for centuries, is another Venetian treat. Notice the signs of the Zodiac on the Clock. Museo Correr - History of Venice Museum. Some Italian art and rooms from the Napoleonic era. (9-5PM).

Scuola di San Rocco: (Vaporetto Stop #10, S.Toma). 9-5:30 Daily. This is a vast monument to the work of Tintoretto... the largest collection of his works anywhere. They are also some of the largest paintings you'll ever see.

Galleria dell'Accademia: (Vaporetto stop #12). 8:15-6:50 Closed Mon. This is the major public gallery of Venice and houses an outstanding collection of Venetian works by Titian, Venonese and Tintoretto.

Ca' d'Ora: (Stop #6). 8:15-7:15, Monday 8:15-2 PM. This is perhaps the grandest of the private galleries and the best preserved of the Venetian palaces. The entire palace was once covered with gold... hence its name. Works here by Titian, Mantegna, Tintoretto, and Van Dyck.

Guggenheim Collection: (Stop #14, Palazzo Venier del Leoni) Located at #701 Dorsoduro, this was the private home of the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. She used to open the palace to the public several days a week. Since her death, the palace is open daily, and the museum has been recently renovated and a new addition added off the courtyard. Major works by Picasso, Braque, Leger, Chagall, Dali, and Pollock. In the beautiful courtyard is MS. Guggenheim's tomb, along with the graves of many of her pet dogs. Hrs 10-6. Closed Tuesday

Ca' Pesaro: (Stop #5). Hrs 10-6 Closed Mon. An exciting array of masterworks by Chagall, Klee, Rouault, and Kandinsky housed in a 17th century palace.

Church Santa Maria Gloriosa de Frari: A 14th century church containing the Tomb of Titian and his very famous Assumption of the Virgin over the altar. Also - the Tomb of Canova.

Murano: Take Vaporetto #5 from San Marco Piazza. Murano is an island in the Adriatic where the famous Venetian glass is made. The factories admit visitors free for a glass blowing exhibition. You are expected to buy a piece of glass but make it a small piece. Glass is often cheaper in Venice proper.

Ca' Rezzonico: Hrs 10-6 Closed Tue Museum of 18th C Venice. Contains period rooms and works by Canaletto, Gaudi, and Tiepolo.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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