Venice - the name alone conjures up romantic images of winding canals lined with elegant palazzo and picturesque bridges, and the drifting songs of the gondoliers as they serenade their passengers.
Having inspired centuries of artists, writers and musicians, it comes as no surprise that Venice is home to more masterpieces per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world, and that the whole city and its lagoon have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known as the Floating City, the graceful buildings that line the waterways are perched on a combination of low-lying islands and thousands of closely spaced ancient wooden piles, arguably the greatest feat of human engineering in history. A total of 117 islands are connected by 455 bridges crossing 177 canals.
Back-street galleries are filled with ancient masterpieces, artisanal crafts and challenging contemporary work, and the residents are a bohemian mix of artists, musicians and students.
Located in Northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea, Venice is one of Italy's most-visited destinations, drawing tourists even during the coldest days of winter. Top attractions include the Piazza San Marco, the Palazzo Ducale, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Galleria del' Accademia.
The most popular time to go is in the spring, particularly during the annual carnevale which is held in the two weeks before Ash Wednesday, but a visit to Venice at any time of year will be a never-forgotten experience.
Venice fact: By law, all gondoliers must be of Venetian birth.
Venice Bed and Breakfasts
In a city as packed full of history as Venice, there's no room for characterless modern buildings. Even travellers on the tightest of budgets can find themselves sleeping in a palazzo which was once the home of a Venetian nobleman and his family. BedandBreakfastworld.com's hand-picked selection of Venice bed and breakfasts showcases some of the truly unique accommodation experiences on offer.
Staying in the sumptuous guestrooms of Dimora Marciana is like stepping back in time, albeit with the modern luxuries of en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning and wireless internet access. Each room of the palazzo features wooden-beamed ceilings and has been individually decorated with classic Italianate furniture, while the tall windows are dressed in heavy drapes of fine fabric. The location could hardly be better, in a quiet street away from the crowds yet just fifty metres from the Piazza San Marco.
An exclusive address with its own private pier gives you some indication of the luxury that awaits you inside Residenza Zanardi. Antique mirrors and damask tapestries adorn the walls, while the hand-blown Murano glass chandeliers glisten on the marble or parquet floors. All of the rooms are spacious, light and airy, positioned to overlook either the charming inner courtyard or the Santa Caterina Canal, providing a picture-perfect Venetian view.
In an ideal location just minutes from Piazza San Marco, right on the edge of the lagoon, is B&B La Corte dei Dogi. Each of the elegant rooms at this Venice B&B is named for a Venetian doge (duke) and is decorated accordingly. Comfortable and homely without losing that sense of luxury, the decadent fabrics and furnishings are only overshadowed by the stunning views of the Palazzo Ducale, the Campanile, the Basilica San Marco and San Georgio Island.
A sixteenth-century palazzo, once the residence of the doge Pasqual Malipiero, has been opened up to twentieth-century visitors in the form of Ca' Malipiero, a luxury Venice B&B owned and operated by an aristocratic Venetian family whose long history and tradition speaks for them. Every detail of this historic building recalls a period of its illustrious past; particularly impressive are the inlaid wooden floors and the high, frescoed ceilings.
Just a minute from Piazza San Marco and La Fenice Theatre, Locanda Antica Venezia adapts traditional Venetian elegance with a simpler, more modern feel. Rooms are bright and well-appointed, offering all the amenities and services of a hotel. A lounge bar and a reading room are located on the top floor, and breakfast can be enjoyed on a sunny roof terrace, overlooking the characteristic domes and tiled rooftops of Venice's unique skyline.
For more information about travel in Italy visit italia.it.
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By Eleanor Brown