Venice is steeped in culture and history, and iconic monuments such as Saint Mark’s Basilica are a mustsee on the Elite Traveler’s itinerary.
However, there are also many hidden treasures throughout the city. So whether you fancy immersing yourself in Venetian life, observing traditional glass blowing skills or just relaxing on Amaranti beach, there is something for everyone. Here are some of our favorite activities.
PLAZZA SAN MARCO AND BASILICA
Saint Mark’s Square is the main public square in Venice, and Napoleon dubbed it “the drawing room of Europe”. Dominated by the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Clock Tower, it is a focal point for tourists visiting the city.
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture and is situated next to the Doge’s Palace. More than 86,000 square feet of golden mosaics cover the walls and cupolas of the Basilica, depicting stories from the Bible. Tours of the Basilica are available.
MARITIME MUSEUM (MUSEO STRLCO NAVALE)
Considered one of the best maritime museums in Europe, the Museo Storico Navale is located close to the Arsenale.
Visitors will enjoy five floors of artifacts, photos, models and displays relating to Venice’s naval history. There are also displays of non-military vessels, including a fascinating gondola exhibition, which features collector Penny Guggenheim’s private gondola.
CA’ PESARO GALLERIA D’ARTE – GALLERY OF MODERN AND ORIENTAL ART
This 17th-century palace on the Grand Canal is a striking example of Venetian Baroque architecture and was bequeathed to the city in 1898 for use as a modern art museum.
The collection contains paintings by Klimt, Bonnard, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Rouault, Matisse, Moore, Morandi, De Chirico, Boccioni and many more. The upper floor is dedicated to a collection of Oriental artifacts, which were brought back from the Far East by Prince Henry of Bourbon-Parma, Count of Bardi, at the end of the 19th century.
CIRCOLO GOLF VENEZIA
Golf enthusiasts have Henry Ford to thank for the existence of the only course in Venice.
When he visited the city in 1928, he bemoaned the lack of golfing facilities to his friend Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata. Inspired by Ford, the Count promptly found a suitable spot in Alberoni, on the southern tip of Lido Island, and created a golf course. Now a championship course, the Circulo Golf Venezia hosted the Senior Open between 2005 and 2007. There are 18 holes and the club also runs a Golf Academy for children. The restaurant serves delicious authentic local cuisine, so why not call in for lunch or dinner after your game?
MURANO GLASS DEMONSTRATION AND MUSEUM
Murano Island is world-renowned for its production of stunning glassware.
The island’s museum explains glass blowing techniques and has glass collections from the 15th to 20th centuries. The full day private glass tour of the Abate Zanetti Glass School includes demonstrations of three different types of glass blowing, a guided tour of the museum and an interpreter for non-English speaking visitors. If you are inspired by the trip, the school also runs short courses in glass making.
AMARANTE BEACH ON VENICE LIDO
In 1857, the first bathing resort was opened on Lido Island, heralding the beginning of the European craze for bathing holidays.
Amarante Beach, just in front of the Hotel Excelsior, has been a meeting place for movie stars and other celebrities for more than a hundred years. Elegance and quality are of the upmost importance and the hotel provides both in equal measure.
One of only four bridges crossing the Grand Canal, the Rialto is the oldest and most distinctive. An original structure existed in 1181 and the current stone bridge was completed in the 16th century, amid criticism that its design was too adventurous to last.
The bridge has a wide central promenade and is lined by two rows of tiny shops, where you can buy locally produced traditional goods, such as Burano lace or Murano glass, as well as leather items.