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If there was ever a city for lovers, then it must be Venice. The beauty of the misty lagoon will appeal, as well as its rich and unique history and, of course, the delectable food and wine you’ll indulge in. Venice has a particular talent for bringing out the poetry in even the most resolute cynics; you can’t help but be seduced by its intimate spaces, the slow decay of the walls and the sound of the water in the quiet evenings. Here’s our guide to one of the most romantic city on Earth.
When it comes to luxury hotels, Venice is certainly overstuffed. Two of the best are the legendary Hotel Danieli and the historic palace Ca’Sagredo. The Danieli is a 14th century palazzo which has played host to an incredible mix of poets, artists, and musicians, including Goethe, Charles Dickens, Byron, Proust, Peggy Guggenheim and Leonard Bernstein. George Sand, the French novelist, had a passionate affair here with Alfred de Musset, in room number 10. The Ca’Sagredo Hotel will have you feeling like a 16th century aristocrat. Many rooms in the palace are actual museums, filled with the family’s incredible collection of art and antiques. Or you could forgo all that splendor and go with a down-to-earth AirBnB that might be just as beautiful.
Venice was built to be seen from the water. You’ll find that palaces that are unassuming from the street have marvelous marble facades canal side. The gondola, being a smaller and thinner boat is made to be able to pass through all the little alleyways and low bridges that are most charming. To avoid the crowds, go very early in the morning, before the tourists wake up and start their day. The city will be almost silent and it’ll be a magical experience you’ll never forget.
Rialto Market is the city’s heart and vendors sell fresh seafood as well as produce. It’s the best way to see the city’s vibrant social life, especially on Saturday mornings, as everyone comes to do their grocery shopping. There are tender baby octopus, glistening scallops and all kinds of fish and clams, as well as local vegetables like violet artichokes and asparagus. Fill up a shopping bag, then stop to have a snack at the nearby bar, Al Merca’.
The bar called Al Bottegon is situated on one of the most picturesque canals in Dorsoduro. The lady behind the counter, Luisa, is a master of inventive cicchetti-making. These bite-size savory snacks go down easy with a drink in the evening. There are special tastes like lard with honey and rosemary, cheese with nettle pesto, or tuna with mayonnaise and cacao. If the weather permits, take your late afternoon snack outside along the canal, and watch the sun go down over the beautiful city.
This little restaurant is located at an incredibly picturesque bend in the canal and is lightly isolated from the hub-bub of foot traffic. The menu is inspired by Marco Polo’s journey on the Silk Road, so unusual spices may appear, but always grounded by the solid base of good Italian cooking and fresh seafood. You’ll have a cocktail on the water and then go into the candlelit restaurant. You’ll share some scallops and a plate of the Venetian speciality, spaghetti with black squid ink. Afterwards, the owner might bring you a bottle of mirto, a sweet Sicilian digestivo.
After dinner, you might make your way to this lovely bar on the Fondamenta della Misericordia. Every Monday night, there’s a live band and as it gets late, they’ll start to clear away the seats to make a dance floor right in the middle of the restaurant. There’s no better place to show off your grooviest moves than right here, to the sweet, soulful rhythms of Marvin Gaye, sung Italian-style.