In the city of Venice, in northern Italy, they have canals instead of roads, ferries and no busses and gondolas function as taxies. Discover the charming city with creative consultant Marie Jacobi – a city that still oozes of its heyday, when it was the hub between Europe and the exotic East.
What makes Venice so special?
First of all, the city is spread on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. So of course, a tour on the canal is mandatory. Jump on board one of the small ferries on The Grand Canal or splash out and go for a charming water taxi.
The main streets are swarming with tourists, but turn into an alley and suddenly you find yourself all alone in a silent and peaceful time warp.
Where should you stay?
I really love the Dorsoduro district – it's located on the south-western side of town. Here you get a feeling of the 'real Venice' and touch of youthful living.
Places to see?
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is an absolute must-see. The palatial home of the art collector is situated on The Grand Canal and is parsley decorated with furniture from the time when Peggy (and all her dogs) resided in the mansion. Visit the museum that showcases her exquisite taste.
PALAZZO VENIER DEI LEONI // CALLE SAN CRISTOFORO // DORSODURO
Viva la Arte! If you find yourself in the city during the Venice Biennale, you should definitely make it a priority to visit. It's always interesting to see, what the individual countries choose to present at their pavilions – it's just like an amusement park but for art.
You should also visit the small nearby islands that accommodates many centuries of refining craftsmanship – among them the island Murano, known for its beautiful glass.
Drop by one of the old 'palazzos', that used to reside the prosperous merchants of the city and their families and today houses remarkable historical art treasures. For example, the Doges's Palace, Palazzo Grassi or Palazzo Fortuny. The latter exhibits contemporary art.
Places to eat?
The informal restaurant Al Bottegon or Cantinone Già Schiavi, an authentic wine bar, that not only serves local wines from the Veneto region, but also the classic Cicchettis (an Italian version of tapas, red.). And of course, Già Schiavi, situated close to the original gondola boatyard that oozes of tar and charm – the essence of Venice.
CANTINA SCHIAVI // FONDAMENTA NANI // DORSODURO
Corte Sconta are for all the foodies. With its simple and minimalistic décor, the place is still informal and cosy. Be sure to book your table in advance - Corte Sconta is very popular.
CORTE SCONTA // CALLE DEL PESTRIN // CASTELLO
In need of a break from all the other tourists? Jump on a boat and head for the eastern part of Isola di S. Elena, behind Giardini. Set in a small square under large stone pines, this is the place to enjoy a classic Italian pizza while watching the local Venetian life pass you by. Vecia Gina also provides a small hotel.
PIZZERIA VECIA GINA // SANT 'ELENA 54 // VIALE QUATTRO
NOVEMBRE // CASTELLO
Places to go out?
You are obliged to enjoy an Aperol Spritz at one of the city's many outdoor cafés when visiting Venice. A classic is also a visit to the oldest café in the world, Caffè Florian at Piazza San Marco. The prizes are through the roof, but in return you get to experience this extravagant place while enjoying your overprized purchase listening to live music coming from the balustrade.
PIAZZA SAN MARCO 57 // S. MARCO
Place for a much-needed break?
On Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi you'll find the small orangery Serra Dei Giardini, which also accommodates a little café – it's the perfect breathing space and ideal for recovering your inner peace.
VIALE GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI//CASTELLO
Shops, flea markets and other sites worth a visit?
Go to Campo San Maurizio for the loveliest flea market. Here you'll find exquisite handcrafted items, curiosities and beautiful glass necklaces. The market is only open certain days of the week, so make sure to check the website before you leave.
Venice is notorious for its impeccable glass manufacturing. The city provides both contemporary and antique pieces among others from the island Murano. But also, immaculate craftsman specialities like beautifully (and therefor very pricy) embroidered shawls – the exclusive silk version from Venetia Studium is available at S. Marco 2425.
Last tips to Venice?
Visiting the city at the right time of the month, go to Piazza San Marco at night time, watch the tide rise while it reveals a reflection of the buildings along the piazza… It's both magical and slightly intoxicating.
Share a water taxi from the airport. The best way to arrive to Venice is by water with wind in your hair.