By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
The “city of water, bridges and romance” are all synonyms for Venice, this 5th century former Italian maritime empire. Built on a lagoon that flaunts magnificent palazzos, piazzas and Renaissance art, its treasures will take your breath away. Comprised of 117 small islands connected by 400 bridges over 150 canals, the best way to navigate the city is by foot or by boat! For an ideal overview, enjoy a Grand Canal gondola ride to see the architectural wonders from the water or explore the city by strolling the cobblestoned streets and winding your way through the various passageways and bridge crossings over the numerous canals. The most famous landmark bridge is the Ponte Di Rialto.
Make your way to Piazza San Marco, one of the most glorious squares in the world. At the time of its height of power and regalia, Napoleon called it “the drawing room of Europe” with international guests, decadent cafes and porticos flanking every corner. Visit the world-renowned Basilica di San Marco (St Mark’s Basilica), the stunning star attraction at the top of the square. Built in 832AD, the interior of this amazing spectacle is just as impressive as the exterior. Feast your eyes on the glittering mosaic domes, geometric marble floors and other sparkling artifacts. Art on a grand and intimate scale abounds at different venues. The Gallerie dell’ Academia, houses the most complete collection of Venetian art in one place and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, shows off her incredible modern art exhibited in her 18th century palazzo. Both are located in the Dorsoduro district.
Two shopping excursions for iconic items are to the Island of Murano where exquisite colorful blown glass creations are made and to the Island of Burano, the home of exquisite lace and linens. Whatever you choose to see and do while in this magical Italian city, be sure to indulge in wine, pasta, gelato and espresso. Viva Venezia!
SAIL: Venice. Before sailing away, bring the city’s flavors and flair home. Remember the beauty of this floating oasis with gorgeous Murano glass, Burano lace linens, tins of almond biscotti or bottles of grappa or balsamic vinegar from Modena.
SIP: Bellini Cocktail (Prosecco & Peach Puree) Created in the 1930’s or 40’s by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, he named this delicious sparkler after the color of a saint’s toga in a Bellini painting. Prosecco (sparkling white wine) on its own is incredibly pleasing too. Either is wonderful to sip when toasting your visit to Venice. Salute!!
SAVOR: Risotto. Made with Italian Arborio Rice, when cooked right it has a creamy texture. Venetians relish risotto di mare (seafood), di moleche (soft shell crabs) or di nero (black squid ink) featuring the city’s water bounties. Enjoy tiramisu (ladyfingers dipped in espresso layered with mascarpone and whipped cream) for dessert.