Venice – St Mark’s Square is as expensive as it is glorious
Heralded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice is famous for its canals, gondolas and inspiring architecture.
If you decide to visit in Spring as we did, be prepared to wrap up warm – but also to benefit from less crowded streets and the lack of the strong sewer smell that Venice is also famed for in the summer time.
St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is truly impressive, most notably St Mark’s Basilica. Nicknamed the ‘Church of Gold’ because of its opulence, the Basilica was commissioned in 1071 by doge Domenico Contarini and built in a Venetian-Byzantine style, a mixture of western and eastern styles.
Close by is an equally impressive but separate campanile, or bell tower; one of the city’s most notable landmarks at 98.6 meters tall.
It was originally built in the 9th century, although the current version was rebuilt in 1912 after the original collapsed in 1902.
St Mark’s Square is also home to the Gothic beauty of the 15th century Doge’s Palace.
Food in Venice is fantastic as well, but I wouldn’t recommend making the main square your lunch venue unless you are feeling particularly flush.
Although the views are amazing, the prices reflect its popularity among tourists. I’d recommend grabbing a coffee there, taking your fill of the sights and then finding somewhere to eat a couple of streets away from the Basilica – where food will cost half the price.
It is also worth escaping the pigeons which fill St Mark’s Square, causing damage to the delicate mosaics on St Mark’s Basilica and, if you let them, any morsels you may leave unguarded on your plate.
The best view of the river comes from the Rialto Bridge. Opened in 1591, for nearly three hundred years it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot.
Away from the main attractions, there is plenty of exploration to be done in the winding back streets of Venice, where you are always likely to stumble upon a fantastically designed church or an alleyway that mixes modern life with an older Venice.