There’s no place on Earth quite like Venice… 118 islands, close to 200 canals, and over 400 bridges make the labyrinthine city one of the most exciting places in the world to explore. The Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, and the Doge’s Palace are just a few of the more notable things to see during your visit to La Serenissima. But the small lagoon city can also become quite a tourist trap. So once you’ve seen the famous sites (and taken a gondola ride, of course), try to escape the crowds and see some parts of Venice many don’t. Here are some tips for places to go:
- San Zaccaria: This 9th century church named for Saint Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, is located in a quiet square just to the southeast of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Said to be the final resting place of John the Baptist himself, the church also boasts one of the oldest clock towers in Venice andhouses the remains of eight of Venice’s doges (magistrates) among other famous Venetians. In addition, the walls are covered in paintings by famous artists including Giovanni Bellini, Tintoretto, Angelo Trevisani, and Van Dyck.
- Mask shops: As you walk along the canals, you’re sure to see a plethora of shops and kiosks vending authentic Venetian carnival masks. And while you may be charmed by the intricately decorated beauties, hold off on purchasing one! There are shops buried within the city that sell unique, handmade leather masks that are much more worth your money. They may be a bit pricier, but the knowledge you now have a handmade mask unlike any other will probably be of comfort.
- Napoleonic Gardens: If you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to take a stroll or read a book, Venice can offer some wonderful gardens and green spaces. The Napoleonic Gardens, one of the city’s largest, located in the Castello neighborhood, feature moss-covered statues and busts of historic figures like Wagner and Verdi, tree-lined paths, and beautiful borders of flowers and greenery. What’s more, the gardens hold a bit of history: during Emperor Napoleon‘s reign, he decreed the gardens be created in 1812, thus giving them their current name.
- Casanova’s Birthplace and Home: Many notable historical figures have hailed from Venice, but one of the most recognizable personalities is none other than the infamous scholar, adventurer, and lover, Giacomo Casanova. Born to theater actors in 1725, Casanova found himself at a boarding schoolin Padua. Eventually he returned and his tumultuous life story carries on from there. You can find a plaque on Calle Malipiero marking his place of birth, and you can also visit the Palazzo Malipiero where he lived, studied, and socialized for a short time when he was a teenager.
- Lido: The Island of Lido is located across the lagoon from the main city of Venice. In July and August, it’s full of vacationing and sunbathing native Venetians, but otherwise, the island is practically deserted. You can walk the charming streets (which actually have cars unlike Venezia), shop, dine, and soak in the sights of this less visited section of the city. If you visit during the spring or summer, be sure to visit the sand dune beaches of Alberoni.
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