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How To Eat Like A Local In Venice

How To Eat Like A Local In Venice

Venice is a very touristy city with many restaurants, yet it often gets a bad reputation for the quality of its food. In fact, Venetian food is fresh and delicious, but the key to finding good restaurants in Venice is to get away from the main tourist sites and major thoroughfares and to heed the advice of those who know Venice and its cuisine well. In Venice, things are often not what they seem. The tiniest crowded places with basic furniture and minimal decor often turn out to be the most gastronomically delightful in this mysterious city. What follows is our hand-picked list of the hidden culinary gems, where you can eat like a local in Venice, including Murano and Burano islands.

Trattoria Corte Sconta

Mixed Seafood Dish VeniceWell-known among locals and tourists alike for its exceptionally fresh seafood, Corte Sconta is a reliable choice for quintessential Venetian dining – relaxed, authentic, and always anchored in the seasonal fresh sea-to-table ingredients. Every early morning when the seafood market opens the cooks personally select the best catch and create the menu based on the freshest most flavorful seafood of the day. The seating and decor inside is no-frills, but the highlight of this restaurant is a vine-covered hidden courtyard (which gave it its name). The courtyard is a wonderful place to eat and enjoy when the weather is nice.
Address: Calle del Pestrin, 3886, 30122 Castello, Venice, Italy

Al Mascaron

Al Mascaron Restaurant VeniceSituated in Castello district not too far from Piazza San Marco, Al Mascaron is a no-frills traditional Venetian Osteria, which for over 30 years has been a favorite place of local workers and fishermen. Al Mascaron’s symbol is a scary mask hanging above its door, and the osteria is so called thanks to the scary faces that were sculpted on the doors of the neighboring church to ward off evil spirits. Venetians have been gathering here to spend time in good company, drink lovely local wines, and have hearty meals of local specialties such as sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines), polenta, baccalà mantecato (creamed cod), linguini al nero di seppia (linguini in squid ink sauce), and many other traditional Venetian dishes. The decor is simple, rustic yet cozy, with wooden tables and chairs, and walls covered with Venetian-themed drawings of local and international artists. Al Mascaron tends to be busy, especially during the tourist season, yet oftentimes you can still get a table after a short wait, especially for early lunch or late dinner.
Address: Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5225, 30122 Venice, Italy

Ai Barbacani

Ai Barbacani Restaurant VeniceAnother gem in Castello district, this restaurant has a wonderfully romantic atmosphere and quiet candlelit elegance and features a canal view. The restaurant is situated in an ancient seven-hundred-year-old building and has been a favorite place for Venetians and tourists alike for over 60 years. When you arrive, you’ll be served a glass of fine local Prosecco, and will be able to choose from a good selection of traditional Venetian dishes, which are always fresh, flavorful, and authentic. The best-kept secret of this restaurant is a table for two that stands in the large window, which fully opens to the canal. If you are lucky enough to get that table, you will be literally seating a foot above the water, with an unobstructed view of two bridges, and amazing people-watching with all of Venice passing or floating by you.
Address: Calle del Paradiso 5746 30122 Venice, Italy


CoVino Restaurant VeniceContinuing a culinary tour of Venetian sestiere Castello, CoVino is one of the top choices in Venice for fresh and flavorful Italian cuisine creatively prepared and artfully presented. The menu is a 3-course prefix. There is a choice of several dishes for each course, which are crafted from only the best ingredients sourced from small Italian farms. The wine list is exceptionally good, featuring many unique selections from small vineyards, and even some great organic wines. It’s a tiny place with only a few tables, and the dishes are prepared right next to you, with the most appetizing gourmet smells filling the air. CoVino is the embodiment of the “slow food” concept, with only two seatings each evening. This is a must-try restaurant, but reservations are essential and should be made at least a week in advance.
Address: Calle Pestrin Castello 3853 30122 Venice, Italy


Algiubagio Restaurant VeniceSituated in a lively Venetian district of Cannaregio, Algiubagio exists in the same place since the 1950’s, when it was just a simple small neighborhood trattoria. Today the space is larger, brighter, and more sophisticated, with the atmosphere of elegance highlighted by beautiful Murano Glass Chandeliers. The menu has choices for all tastes, from fish and seafood to meat and vegetarian dishes, and cooking is a mix of traditional and contemporary influences. The restaurant is located on Fondamente Nove, the northern side of Venice, facing the Lagoon and the islands of San Michele and Murano. The bonus is a large wooden terrace above the water, where you can dine in warm weather and enjoy gorgeous views and fresh wind from the Lagoon. Even on colder days, you can often still sit on the terrace warmed up with the special heating lamps and reflect on the eternal beauty of Venice.
Address: Fondamente Nuove, Cannaregio, 5039, 30125 Venezia Italy

Al Bottegon aka Cantine del Vino già Schiavi

Al Bottegon  Restaurant VeniceAl Bottegon is not a restaurant but it’s a Venetian staple that cannot be missed. It’s an “Enoteca”, which means a wine bar. Here is Dorsorduro district across the Grand Canal from the hustle and bustle of Piazza San Marco life is more slow and authentic, and the locals often stop for a glass wine and cichetti and a chat on their way home from work or during an evening stroll. Along the walls of the long narrow room are bottles of wine stocked on floor-to-ceiling shelves. Here you can find wines from every region of Italy, very cheap and extremely expensive, very well-known and really rare, from all grape varieties and for all tastes. However, Al Bottegon is not merely a wine shop. Besides the wine, it serves a wide variety of Venetian cicchetti, or tiny open-faced sandwiches with Venetian and Italian delicacies, from fish and seafood to vegetables, cheeses, smoked and air-dried meats (“salumi”), and many other inventive and delicious options. The atmosphere is convivial and cheery. Patrons young and old from all walks of life typically stand inside with a glass of wine in hand or spill out into the street next to canal Rio San Trovaso to get fresh air and canal-view – a completely authentic Venetian experience.
Address: Fondamenta Nani 992 Dorsoduro, 30123 Venice, Italy

Buso Alla Torre, Murano

Busa Alla Torre  Restaurant Murano VeniceA go-to place for those in the know on Murano island, Busa Alla Torre is a gem of a restaurant known as much for its wonderful cuisine, as for its owner, Gabriele or, affectinately, Lele. A big personality with a warm welcoming smile, Lele is omnipresent in his restaurant and likes to chat with the patrons while making sure that everybody is having a great time. Busa alla Torre is so called for its location on Campo Santo Stefano next to the famous Clock Tower or Torre del Orologio with the much-photographed huge blue Murano Glass comet at its foot. The restaurant is simple inside but its cuisine is sophisticated and refined, inspired by Lele’s love of gourmet Venetian food based on local fresh ingredients and seafood specialties from the Venetian Lagoon. A special draw is the piazza seating next to the Torre del Orologio and with a view of the canal, which the restaurant offers on warm days. Here you can have a wonderful light or hearty meal, stay for as long as you want, and watch Murano’s daily life unfold in front of you.
Address: Campo S. Stefano, 3, 30141 Murano (Venice Italy)

Acqua Stanca, Murano

Acqua Stanca  Restaurant Murano VeniceUnlike many other restaurant choices listed here, Acqua Stanca is a newer restaurant, opened in 2012 on Murano Island, where the old and the new mixes perfectly and where those in the know increasingly go for fine authentic dining at reasonable price. Frequented by the locals and resourceful tourists alike, this restaurant has beautiful boho-chic-meats-Venetian-tradition interior design artfully combining the warm appeal of wood and exposed brick, the sophistication of Murano Glass sculptures, and the toned down luster of old Murano Glass mirrors. The food is sheer delight, inventive and beautifully presented. The choices include the seafood delicacies from the Venetian Lagoon, such as the soft-shell crab, clams, and squid, perennial Italian favorites such as Mozzarella di Buffala, artichokes, tomatoes, and other vegetables, as well as a combination of traditional and modern touches in the pasta dishes.
Address: Fondamenta Manin 48, 30141 Murano (Venice Italy)

Al Gatto Nero, Burano

Al Gatto Nero Restaurant Burano VeniceIf your travels take you to Burano island, be sure to visit this tried-and-true local favorite. Al Gatto Nero, or “The Black Cat” has been under the same ownership since 1965 and has earned its fame by serving the freshest Adriatic fish and seafood and a wide variety of traditional Venetian and Italian appetizers, complemented with an extensive list of hand-picked wines from Veneto, Friuli, Alto Adige and many other Italian wine-growing regions. The highlights of the menu include capesante (scallops), cannolicchi (razor clams), granseola (soft shell crab), and gamberi (small shrimps) and vongole (clams). The fritto misto (mixed fried seafood) may be the best option to try all of these seafood delicacies, but the menu is full of grilled, fried, and sauteed options for every taste. The location of this restaurant is unbeatable, not far from the ferry stop and right on the canal lined with colorful houses. You can dine inside or out, the latter being the best choice for people-watching. You’ll see tourists walking by and the Buranese going about their business, or sitting on benches and chatting, just the way it has been here for hundreds of years.
Address: Via Giudecca, 88, 30142 Burano (Venice Italy)


5 Myths About Venice That You Should Not Believe

Myth 1: Venetian canals smell

Venetian canals do not smell
Have someone ever told you that Venetian canals are… well, less attractive than you imagined? And that you might have to hold your nose when standing near one? We’ve heard this too. But this story is nothing more than a myth

This myth is typically spread by those who have never been to Venice and do not plan to visit mainly for this reason. But if you ask those who live in Venice or spent at least a few days there they’ll tell you that canals in Venice smell like the sea.

The truth is you can breathe easy on the Venetian shores – much easier than in our congested and polluted cities. The water in Venetian canals does not stand still. By ancient design, the canals are interconnected with the Venetian Lagoon and the open sea, and constitute the city’s elaborate system of dealing with pollution that has been successfully working for a thousand years. And only once a year, when the lifecycle of the seaweed ends there might be a faint smell akin to the one you can feel on any beach at low tide. However, Venetian canals are cleaned regularly and any smell that may appear is very short-lived.

Myth 2: The best time to visit Venice is in the Summer

In the Summer there are huge tourist crowds in Venice
Lots of people dream of picnicking on the canals and doing sunset promenades in Venice, thinking that Summer is the best season to enjoy the city sans jacket and scarf.

In reality the people who sustain this myth are those who never visited Venice in the midst of the tourist season. The problem is that ancient Venice with its maze of medieval alleyways and dead ends, narrow bridges, and public transportation system consisting of only small vaporetto boats, is not equipped to manage hordes of tourists without crowds and bottlenecks everywhere. This, along with heat and high humidity, makes for very uncomfortable sightseeing and inevitable lack of atmosphere and aura that define Venice.

The shoulder seasons, such as September-October or March-April make for far better relaxed and uncrowded experience in Venice and allow you to feel the authenticity and the unique ambiance of this beautiful city.

Myth 3: The most expensive cup of coffee in the world is in Venice’s famous café Florian.

Coffee in Cafe Florian in Venice is not the most expensive in the world
The famous Venetian café Florian is the oldest continuously operating café in the world that was frequented by many historical figures from Goethe and Casanova to Lord Byron and Charles Dickens. Of course it’s an expensive place to have a cup of coffee but it’s certainly not the most expensive in the world.

Research conducted by the London branch of the American consulting firm Mercer has shown that the most expensive cup of coffee is actually sold in Moscow, Russia, where it costs on average $10.19 (including the tip). And in café Florian’s historic interiors you can have your coffee for mere 5 euro while seating on the same red velvet benches where Goldoni, Casanova, Goethe, Byron, Madame de Stael, Proust, Stravinsky, Modigliani and Brodsky once sat.

Myth 4: One day is enough time to see Venice

One day in Venice during cruise is not enough
Lots of people visit Venice as a day-trip, including millions who visit the city by cruise ships every year. Those people, often armed with a quick “top-5-places-to-see”-type guidebook, hit all the hotspots in a quick succession: San Marco Square, The Basilica of San Marco, The Doge’s Palace, maybe the ascent of the Campanile, and an obligatory gondola trip along the Grand Canal. A few very efficient ones may even be able to squeeze in a visit to another museum or a church, if they skip lunch or grab a quick panini to go from a nameless corner shop.

Sure, that can all be done in one day but what have you really seen and experienced at the end of this long and tiresome hectic day? You have checked off a few boxes on a tourist’s must-see list and ran quickly through a bunch of attractions but this is akin to speed-dating: a quick glance, a short-lived impression, and no way to understand who is really in front of you.

In Venice’s case what is in front of you is a real treasure with layers of history and often deceiving looks, which needs to be studied and appreciated slowly. Venice’s history, culture, heritage, arts, cuisine, and its many quirks do not get revealed to a stranger during a one-day speed-sightseeing session.

By spending several non-rushed days in La Serenissima, visiting selected attractions, savoring slow long canal-side walks, lingering in the family restaurants and small wine bars, you will let yourself slowly get immersed in Venice’s colorful and mysterious world. You will be able to appreciate its character, its slow pace, its fragile yet perfectly balanced co-existence with water, and its attractions, which need to be viewed in the context of this city’s unique personality. And be prepared: you might just fall in love.

Myth 5: Staying overnight in Venice is very expensive. The best option is to stay on the mainland, in Mestre.

Staying in Venice overnight is better than Mestre
Like any city at the top of the must-see-before-you-die list, Venice has millions of people visiting every year and tens of thousands of hotel rooms to satisfy this demand. And of course the hotels in Venice’s historic center are usually not cheap. But do not think this is the whole truth and do not let this thinking convince you to stay on the mainland in Mestre.

Mestre is a small industrial town across the Lagoon that lacks any character. Have you really come all the way to Venice to spend your evenings on car-lined streets of a modern town with no history, offering mediocre restaurants and lacking any charm? Who said that you can’t find reasonably-priced accommodations in the center of Venice?

Besides luxury and boutique hotels, Venice has lots of cozy B&B’s and no-frills apartments for rent, which can be rented for around 100 euros per night in low season and slightly more in high season. Many major travel booking sites now also offer B&B’s, while websites such as VRBO and Homeaway offer a multitude of apartment choices in Venice in all price categories.

Of course you always need to be careful renting apartments from private persons, especially abroad, and make sure to avoid any listings that do not have multiple reviews, do not offer a way to talk directly to the owners, or seem suspicious in any way at any stage in the booking process.

Good luck in your future travels to Venice and please help us continue to dispel these myths that paint beautiful Venice in dark colors.


Acqua Alta In Venice – Dealing With Venetian Floods

Acqua Alta (high water) is a term used in Venice for the high tide in the Adriatic Sea. The water levels reach the air maximum in the Venetian Lagoon, which in turn causes flooding in Venice. This usually happens outside of the Venetian tourist season, between September and April when the tides are strengthened by seasonal winds called Sirocco and Bora that blow along the Adriatic coast.

Venetian Lagoon is a large elongated body of water around 35 miles long and 6 miles wide, which is separated from Adriatic Sea by a sand bar cut by three passages: Lido, Malamocco, and Chioggia. During high tides the water from the sea comes into the Lagoon via these three passages, raising the Lagoon level, and afterwards it goes back out to the sea. These daily tides clean up Venetian canals allowing the water to circulate, and the city to survive without special sewer systems.

Acqua Alta at San Marco Square in Venice

There is a special scale of acqua alta levels developed just for measuring tides in Venice. At Punta della Dogana, Venice’s entrance to the Lagoon there is a hydrographic station, which regularly takes measurements. The zero point was defined in 1897 when measurements started. Add 31 to 43 inches to that and you get Venetian high tide. 44 to 55 inches above 0 is very high tide. And above 5 inches is extremely high tide.

The worst acqua alta was recorded in November of 1966, with an increase of 76 inches, and was devastating for the city and its inhabitants. While it was a relatively infrequent phenomenon in the nineteenth century, with about 10 instances a year, the frequency and severity of it increased last century to reach about 60 times a year. Some people think that is because Venice is quickly sinking, but this is not accurate. The pilings on which Venice stands sunk 10cm lower in the twentieth century due to the rise of industrial activity in the Lagoon and pumping out of the groundwater, which caused rapid compression of the layers of land on the bottom of the Lagoon, which holds the pilings. Once the government realized how this was affecting the city, groundwater pumping was stopped and now Venice sinks by less than a millimeter a year mostly due to natural geological reasons.

However, a bigger problem for the city is rising ocean levels due to climate change, and it is expected that increased speed of arctic ice melting will bring even more frequent and severe floods. Much scientific, environmental, and architectural thought went into trying to protect the city from this ongoing threat, resulting in much debate and finally in approval of a large scale very ambitious construction project dubbed MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechanical Module). The design involves 57 retractable floodgates that will be installed at the entrances from the Adriatic Sea into each of the three Lagoon inlets, which would rise once the water levels entering the Lagoon will reach dangerous levels and stop more water from coming in. Began back in 2003, the project has encountered multiple delays and budget issues, and is currently expected to be completed by June 2018.

Acqua Aklta on Venetian Street

The optimists hope that this will mark the end of infamous Venetian floods and the phenomenon of acqua alta and will ultimately prevent the destruction of Venice brought on by frequent inflows of saltwater. The pessimists worry that with the rising sea levels there is a good chance that the floodgates will stay closed for long stretches of time turning Venetian Lagoon into a marshy lake and creating dangerous pollution levels and a potential sanitation hazard in the Lagoon and the city.

Today when acqua alta hits, some lower lying areas of Venice, including its lowest point, piazza San Marco, end up under water and passage through the city becomes difficult. The city combats the issue by installing raised walkways in the most vulnerable areas, but mobility is limited limited to only a few routes. For Venetians life goes on even during most floods, and every Venetian owns a pair of special very tall rain boots, but tourists often opt for a lighter version to brave the watered streets. Produced by company called Goldon, they look like yellow plastic covers which are worn above regular shoes and are light, easy to carry, and surprisingly effective at keeping feet dry and letting you explore the city during acqua alta.

Dealing with flooding in Venice

If you happen to experience acqua alta in Venice, take it in stride. Buy the plastic boot covers or rain boots and continue to enjoy the city’s special ambiance and this unique experience that you will not soon forget.


Staying In Venice: A Brief Guide To Venetian Neighborhoods

Although a relatively small city, Venice, Italy is home to a number of vibrant neighborhoods, each of them with its own character and history. Administratively the historical center of Venice is split into six areas called “sestiere” (which means a “sixth” in Venetian dialect), a tradition that has held up since the 12th century. The present sestieri map dates back to 1711. Besides the six sestieri, Venice actually includes Giudecca, the Lido, Murano, Burano, and a few other islands in the Venetian Lagoon. While staying in Venice’s historic center is expensive, we highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get an authentic experience in Venice and values a chance to get to know the city and its people beyond the museums, the tacky souvenire vendors, and the crowds.

Map of Venice with Landmarks

It is indeed a hard choice of accommodation between the different areas of Venice, each home to its own set of traditions and cultural features. It’s possible, however, to make an educated decision based on various factors that we will help you uncover in this article.

To start off, it is worth noting that while some neighborhoods are more central than others, all have their attractions and advantages, and the entire city can be traversed from East to West in about an hour and a half on foot. The number of residents in Venice’s historical center keeps declining every year and is currently below 60,000. Today for better or worse the city is largely home to businesses and is a hub of tourism activity thanks in part to the huge cruiseships that dock in its port. There are lots of hotels, hostels, B&B’s and rental apartments in all areas of Venice, and those visiting Venice will be pleased to know that the city is largely welcoming and has no “bad” or dangerous areas.

Santa Croce: The Gateway To Venice

Santa Croce Ponte delle Scalzi Venice

Santa Croce takes its name from the church that once stood here but was unfortunately demolished by Napoleon. With the bus terminal at Piazzale Roma, the multi-story parking garages, the so called “people mover” and the ship dock at Stazione Marittima, Santa Croce has established itself as a commuting area of the city and the transportation hub for tourists. This neighborhood of Venice has the most connections to mainland Italy, and is therefore buzzing with activity all day long.

The only bridge that connects Venice to the mainland, Ponte della Libertà, was built on Mussolini’s order in 1933. It connects Santa Croce area of Venice with Mestre for car traffic, which, unlike in the rest of Venice, is partially allowed in this neighborhood, albeit only in a very small part of it – and with strict limitations. However, for those interested in exploring other neighboring towns in addition to Venice by car, while being a a 40-minute walk away from Piazza San Marco, Santa Croce is an excellent choice. Despite its transport links, Santa Croce maintains its identity as authentic Venetian neighborhood with its fair share of bars and restaurants, art galleries, and attractions such as Ca’ Pesaro, a former palazzo hosting International Gallery of Modern Art, and Fondaco dei Turchi, a magnificent palazzo dating from 1225 that was subsequently owned by Dukes of Ferrara before being given to Ottoman merchants for use as a community center and a warehouse, which currently houses the Venetian museum of Natural History.
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What Makes Venice Special? Top Interesting Facts About Italy’s Floating City.

Venice is a historical treasure, a living breathing city that changed very little over the centuries and that boasts an extensive and impressive history. Beyond that, it is a very curious place, the only one of its kind, built entirely on the water, which creates myths and legends, and brings to mind many questions. While tourists from around the world flock to the city to admire the beautiful architecture, the breathtaking canals, and the amazing art-packed churches- few visit the city with any historical insight at hand. For this reason, we’ve compiled answers to questions that you’ve probably had about Venice, or perhaps will have during your visit- in an effort to equip you with information that will help enhance your cultural trip.

The Venice of today is, above all, a brief glimpse into an opulent and elegant time where the economy of the Western world relied on shipping and merchants. The city remains as authentic as possible, and buildings are preserved with the intention of leaving the city in its original glory. As you explore the city, the answers we provide below may help you understand certain conventions, and shed light on certain characteristics of Venice.

1. How and why was Venice founded?

Venice Old Map Of The City

Venice was officially founded, according to historical records, on March 25th of year 421 AD with the opening of its first church, San Giacomo, in the area called Rialto (from Venetian “Rivoalto”, or high shore). The Northeastern corner of Italy was, at the time, suffering from a series of barbarian invasions. The Barbarian invasion was a particularly brutal time for local residents, as the invading clans besieged entire cities and terrorized the population, who had previously lived peacefully under the lawful and orderly Roman Empire.

In fear, these people fled to the practically inaccessible marshlands in the Adriatic part of the modern Veneto region, that in Roman times were populated by people called Veneti. The place became known as Venexia in local Venetian dialect, or Venetiae, in Latin, and eventually transformed into Venice in the English language. These marshlands in shallow Venetian lagoon were impossible for barbarians to navigate and thus provided a reliable shelter for the refugees albeit in a very inhospitable environment. Originally a community of fisherman whose main trade besides fishing was salt, Venice grew as new arrivals from the mainland kept coming uprooted by the new waves of barbarians sweeping Italian lands. Venice was, therefore, a haven for refugees. It was, in time, built with understanding of the necessity of the rule of law, the desire to develop commerce, and the drive to succeed typical for immigrant communities. This eventually led to the well-established legal system, the elected government headed by the Doge, and checks and balances built into the system to avoid corruption. The lack of land further helped Venice avoid the destiny of other European states with their backward feudal systems and ascent of the landed nobility. It was above all a commercial society that flourished on trade and friendly foreign relations. In other words, its political and economic systems were far more advanced than of any of other Western European states at the time, and were even studied carefully by the founding fathers in the U.S. as one of the very few examples of a working democracy, even if imperfect.
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5 Great Movies Filmed In Venice That You Should See

Venice is a wonderfully scenic city, rich with dramatic architecture and a unique culture, a favorite of famous artists and writers, and a place that is unbelievably picturesque and photogenic. For this reason, since the advent of cinema many production companies have chosen the city as a stunning backdrop for a variety of films, and audiences worldwide are able to enjoy the beauty of Venice unfolding alongside dynamic story lines from the comfort of their homes.

Ranging from Hollywood blockbusters such as The Tourist, to cinematic renditions of literary classics such as the Merchant Of Venice, there is no shortage of Venetian-themed movies for you to enjoy. For your convenience, we have compiled a thorough selection of great movies, that beautifully depict Venice and take full advantage of its diverse setting. If you have not seen them all, we highly recommend that you watch them soon.

The Tourist

Venice Boat on Grand Canal

‘The Tourist’ is a thrilling movie, a mix of romance, suspense, and thriller, starring both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The film revolves around an American tourist wonderfully portrayed by Johnny Depp, who meets gorgeous Elise played by Angelina Jolie, on a trip to Venice. Frank is heartbroken, and his misery starkly contrasts the beauty of Venice. Meanwhile, Elise deliberately crosses paths with Frank in a mysterious turn of events, that plays out across the narrow alleyways and dark corners of this unique city that is romantic and hauntingly dramatic at once.

The Tourist takes full advantage of all that Venice has to offer. Audiences will grab onto their seats during high-energy boat chases across the canals, delight in the gorgeous actors playing characters crisscrossing the streets of the small city, and enjoy the rare inside looks the interior of Venetian palaces that shine in all their former glory. The movie is set in modern times, but the elegant complexity of the storyline pays tribute to an opulent Venice of the past. This is a must see for movie fans, lovers of Venice and those who value beautiful backdrops to excellent stories.

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Highlights Of The Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum is a major tourist attraction on Venetian island of Murano, and one that uniquely represents the rich history of glassmaking present on the small Venetian island. Many tourists wish to visit the museum, and rightly so, as the large venue houses historical artifacts and beautiful displays that are unique to Murano.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions open to tourists, and those who purchase tickets are granted admission to the majority of the museum, including any special or seasonal shows. The museum was renovated recently, and the building itself is almost as beautiful as the treasures kept within it. Below, we detail some of the highlights of the Murano Glass Museum, that stand out amongst all of the stunning exhibitions.

Murano Glass Museum Permanent Exposition

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Top 5 Things To See And Do On Murano Island

While Venice is a beautiful and wonderfully diverse city, it’s also rather small. After a number of days spent wondering through the stunning corridors that crisscross the the city and admiring art, you may feel inclined to visit one of the smaller islands that surround Venice, such as Murano, Burano, or Torcello.

Of course we can’t be impartial when it comes to choosing a Venetian island to visit, and we wholeheartedly recommend Murano – the home of the most beautiful glassware in the world and the place to experience true Venetian lifestyle of the bygone era. Murano is a tiny island in the Venetian lagoon, just north of Venice proper. Renowned for its glassmaking tradition, the island boasts a population of 5,000 people, many of whom are direct descendants of famous glassmaking families.

The island is rich with culture and tradition, and was once used as a refuge for Venetian glass-makers, who were forced by governmental officials to leave the city of Venice in the 1291 and establish their furnaces on Murano. For lovers of art, history, fine craftsmanship, or simply for breathtaking views- Murano is definitely a location to consider. here we give you the scoop on the top 5 things to do on Murano island. And, what’s great, you can actually do all of this in one day and still have time left for a nice dinner either right here on Murano or in Venice, a short vaporetto ride away.

Murano Canal

1. Take a Walk Around Town

The island of Murano consists of 7 individual islands linked together by beautiful bridges. While this sounds overwhelming, the whole island actually measures a mere 1 mile, which is easily walkable in 20 minutes.

Much like the city of Venice, Murano has a ‘Canale Grande’ (Grand Canal) that runs down the centre, and separates rows of mirrored buildings. The main and arguably most impressive building on the island is the municipal building, called ‘Palazzo Da Mula’. This dates back to the 13th century, and features a characteristically gothic facade, popular in Venetian architecture. The canals, coupled with the island’s three remaining churches, in addition to the beautiful buildings- are reasons enough to take a walking tour of Murano.
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Five Attractions In Venice Without The Crowds

Five Attractions To See In Venice Without The Crowds
When it comes to organizing a trip to Venice, the itineraries are full of famous attractions that appear on every travel advice website and every must-see list you will ever come across. Among those are The Doge’s Palace, and Basilica San Marco, Accademia Gallery and Ca’ Rezzonico, The Campanile, and The Astronomical Clock. Hunting for those top attractions, you will stand in lines for hours and run into crowds of tourists who are all hungry to see the same things you came to see. This may leave you aggravated, distressed, and wondering what you may have done better to have more authentic Venetian experience. You need not worry – we will let you in on the hidden secrets, the activities that many miss, the attractions that are still relatively quiet, not overrun with tourists, and promise a wonderfully authentic experience.

1. Get To Know Venice’s Craftsmanship: Gondola Building Workshop

Gondola Workshop Venice

Get to know one of the few remaining gondola yards in Venice. Just a few steps down the canal near the Accademia Bridge, one can find Venice’s only remaining original gondola-building and maintenance yard, the Squero San Trovaso workshop. Nowadays it works mainly as a maintenance and repair point, but during the 1600’s it was Venice’s busiest production point for the ten thousand gondolas that once traveled along its canals and into the Lagoon. The squero is not open to the public but if you visit during the working hours you can see the work from the outside, and it is a fascinating experience. Each gondola is made out of eight different types of wood, exactly as it was hundreds of years ago, and includes lots of exclusively carved elements. Because gondolas are still crafted in a traditional way, it takes over a month to build one, and it usually can be in service for about 15 years, after which it must be refinished and can last another ten years. There are woodcarving workshops that create various wooden parts for gondolas and are very interesting to visit to see this ancient craft in action. The workshop of Paolo Brandolisio a few steps behind Piazza San Marco is a great one to visit. There are several guided tours for visitors, like the two-hour Oltrex tour starting from Riva degli Schiavoni, or the one day experience Venice for Children, that encompasses a whole seminar on gondola making and a tour on vaporetto through the Arsenale and the Naval Museum. After getting to know this craft better, one will never see a gondola the same way again, for they are unique custom made vessels with centuries of history and craftsmanship, and no one is identical to another.

2. Get To Know Venice’s Art: Querini Stampalia Museum

Museum Querini Stampalia Venice_Museum

Tucked away in a pretty corner of sestiere Castello is another one of Venice’s hidden jewels, the Querini Stampalia Museum. Born out of the desire to continue and share the knowledge of artistic studies, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia was created in 1869 according to the will of Count Giovanni Querini Stampalia. Having died with no heirs, Querini Stampalia, a prominent member of Venetian nobility, left all his belongings, including a gorgeous Palazzo and amazing library, to the City Of Venice, with the intent of creating a museum open to the public.  That same year the Palazzo was converted to a beautiful museum, where all of Querini-Stampalia’s original interiors, furnishings, and artworks gathered by him and generations of his predecessors, are carefully preserved.  The museum is one of the best house-museums in Europe, offering a peek into the life of Venetian nobility in the eighteenth century, from elaborate salons to elegant bedrooms, complete with frescoes, paintings, and gorgeous decor, including Murano Glass. Venice lovers and history buffs will be blown away by the museum’s unique collection of paintings that depict, in precise detail, the many Venetian celebrations, public events, holidays and historical moments as seen in the eighteenth century. The almost photographic nature of these paintings, along with excellent descriptions available in several languages, allow us to vividly imagine how Venetians lived, what they looked like, how they entertained themselves, and what they cared about centuries ago. Another feature of this museum is its unique library that contains over 350,000 books, and remains open late in the evening and even during holidays, following its founder’s will. Inside Querini-Stampalia living quarters the different artworks on display include paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Pietro Longhi, and Giandomenico Tiepolo, among others, antique Venetian furniture, sculptures, Murano glass chandeliers, mirrors, and decorative glassware, French porcelain, tapestries, and other historic pieces dating all the way back to the XIV century.

3. Explore One Of Venice’s Newer Museums

Punta della Dogana Sculpture in Venice

Punta della Dogana is the site of Venice’s historical naval customs house, or Dogana da Mar. The long Customs building we see today graced with a beautiful sculpture of Atlas holding up the globe, symbolizing the supremacy of Venice, dates from 1682. The Customs house continued to be in operation until 1980’s, becoming a link connecting Venice’s past with its present. After the building stopped being used for this purpose, it was abandoned and had been dilapidated by neglect. Finally, the city of Venice decided to put this building back into use and awarded the tender for renovating the space to François Pinault (French billionaire businessman and avid art collector). In the new hands, this building underwent a glorious restoration by architect Tadao Ando in 2008. The amazing architecture is enough for one to spend a whole morning admiring the place. It has been described as having an “industrial and minimalist soul”, thanks to its polished concrete floors, steel anchors and exposed brick walls. The museum hosts temporary art exhibitions and presents works from Pinault’s own extensive collection.

4. See The Original Venetian Ghetto

Jewish Getto Venice

If one prefers to spend the day strolling along some not-so-crowded streets while learning little-known Venetian history, the Venetian Jewish Ghetto is just the area to visit. Located in the Cannaregio district, this Venetian ghetto is actually the first Jewish ghetto in all of Europe, instituted in March of 1516. Jews were present in Venice as far back as the tenth century though they were not allowed to settle there. Later in 1290, Jewish merchants and moneylenders received permission to work in Venice conditioned upon paying a special 5% tax on their import and export transactions. Finally, forced by the needs for financing brought on by the city’s flourishing commerce, Venice’s government allowed Jewish moneylenders to settle in the city in 1385 and even gave them land to be used as a cemetery. However, attitudes towards Jews were becoming progressively worse over the following two centuries, as the growing prosperity of Jewish residents stoked fears of their influence on Venice’s Christian society. Hence after much deliberation in 1516 Venice’s ruling council decided to confine Jews to a small part of Venice called Ghetto, named after the foundries (getti) that were once located in the area. The most densely populated area of Venice in the centuries past, Ghetto was set up on an island, which provided a natural way to close it up at night and segregate its inhabitants from the rest of Venice. Ghetto features Venice’s tallest buildings where Jewish residents were forced to dwell as their numbers swelled since they were prohibited from settling beyond the confines of this small island. The Ghetto area historically had been divided into two different sections: the New Ghetto, and the Old Ghetto, the former was inhabited by the Ashkenazi Jews from Germany and Italy, while the latter was the settlement of the Sephardic Jews from the Levant. This division can turn out to be rather confusing since in the historical sense the New Ghetto is actually older than the “old” one.

Despite the horrendous devastation of Jewish life in Venice brought on by Holocaust, this part of Venice is still the center of Jewish life, although out of only 500 Jewish residents of Venice just 30 still live in the Ghetto. The area offers a peek into the rich history of Jews in Venice, the vibrant society that once sparked the interest of William Shakespeare, who described some of the local Judeo-Christian tensions in his “Merchant Of Venice”. The Ghetto is also a place to enjoy traditional cuisine in a few good kosher-certified restaurants, as well as browse Judaic shops and check out historic synagogues.

5. Find Hidden Gems Among Venetian Churches

Venice Madonna dell'Orto Church

Switching the subject to Venice’s Christian history, in the same Cannaregio district we can also find little-known but very old Madonna dell’Orto Church, a beautiful brickwork construction build in the XIV century. Constructed under the direction of Tiberio da Parma (who is buried inside the church), it was built by the now-defunct religious order of the “Humiliati” and initially dedicated to Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers. Its name would later change, dedicating the church to the Holy Virgin, thanks to a famous statue of a Madonna that was discovered in an orchard (orto) near the church. Its façade shows impressive brickwork walls, while the inside includes a nave and two isles framed with Greek marble columns. The paintings found inside are invaluable: there are a number paintings by renowned Venetian artist Tintoretto, and some works by Bellini and Titian. Tintoretto, who was born in Venice in 1518, had a long and very productive career as a painter in Venice, having executed many paintings and large-scale frescoes in Palazzo Del Doge, numerous churches, and Scuolas. Paintings “Worship of the Golden Calf” and the “Last Judgment” in Madonna Dell’Orto are the ones that brought Tintoretto initial acclaim, setting him on the path to fame and prosperity. While working on his commissions for this church, Tintoretto lived in a small Gothic house next to the church looking out to Fondamenta de Mori, which still stands today. Tintoretto died in 1594 and is buried in Madonna dell’Orto church, next to his beloved daughter Marietta who died four years before him at the age of thirty. The terracotta bust on Tintoretto’s tomb is the work of famous Murano Glass artist and sculptor, Napoleone Martinuzzi, created in 1937.

Venice is a city full of secrets that will surely marvel tourists. There is nothing as charming as walking along Venice’s back alleys and allowing oneself to get lost in the history of the city. It is not only the museums that can offer this but its palaces, its restaurants, its canals, its churches and its people. Venice is a city to be enjoyed in countless ways, we only need to learn where to look.


Christmas Celebrations And Winter Holiday Traditions in Venice, Italy

Just when you were starting to think that Venice couldn’t possibly become more magical, Christmas transforms this city into a perfect winter wonderland. While cities around the world deck their streets with lights and ornaments, Venice disappears into foggy wintry sights worthy of any painting by Canaletto. For those seeking peace and tranquility during the holidays, Venice may turn out to be the perfect venue full of concerts, hot chocolate, mysterious fog and, occasionally, snow.

The month of December brings serenity and quiet to the city, due to lack of tourist crowds strolling down the streets. This is the time of year when Venice is taken over by fog and mist, turning the island into a hauntingly beautiful scene. Although Venice does not go over the top with Christmas decorations, one can still find fantasy lights and garlands adorning its main streets and gondolas. Locals take advantage of this chilly time to gather together and enjoy a cup of cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) inside cozy bars. Contrary to the typical hot chocolate we all know, cioccolata calda in this region is rich and thick and will surely keep the cold at bay.

The weather is mostly humid and cold, with occasional snow and acqua alta Iflooding) in Saint Marc’s Square. It is advisable to be well prepared when it comes to choosing appropriate clothing; the wind and rain that sometimes take over the city do not make it easy for visitors to walk around. However, there is still a chance of getting lucky with sunny days every now and then. When this happens, Venetians will be more than ready to bundle up and go out for some Christmas shopping around the city.

One of Venice’s most charming experiences during this season is visiting the joyful Christmas markets, or mercatini di Natale, as locals call them. Springing up between Rialto and Saint Marc’s Square and starting from mid-December, the Christmas markets are a cheerful exhibition of Venice’s most exquisite arts and crafts. Some of these markets offer fine handcrafted articles like purses, wallets, stationary, jewelry, and ornaments. Others offer exquisite Venetian products that range from gorgeous Murano Glass to elegant Burano lace, to hand-embroidered fabrics, to timeless antiques. Typical food and beverages are also part of this show, sometimes accompanied by live music too. It is also common to find a wide selection of Nativity scenes and objects (presepi), most of them handmade, especially near the Rialto Bridge by the church of San Giovanni Grisostomo. And in spite of it being Christmastime, the Venice Carnival is never far from people’s minds, as we see colorful hand-made masks being sold at every market. Naturally, the whole city is also adorned with countless Murano glass decorations, and it is a great idea to visit the island of Murano for the Glass Christmas Celebration (Natale di Vetro), where visitors will be charmed by unique Christmas-themed objects made of Murano Glass.

While hot chocolate may sound alluring when hopping from one bar to the other, the Christmas markets offer a wide selection of traditional and tasty foods and drinks. Roast chestnuts, chocolates, candied fruit and mulled wine are just some of the yummy treats one can find shopping along the lanes. The famous panettone, or pandoro (Christmas cake) is found in almost every Venetian home and restaurant around Christmas.

The winter season also brings music and concerts, and so the churches and opera houses are full of crowds eager to spend the evening listening to classical music masterpieces. It is easy to find the programs by reading the posters spread throughout the city, or by visiting the year’s program online. The church of La Pietà, on Riva degli Schiavone, usually holds some of the best concerts by Vivaldi, who was once that church’s composer. Some locations like Ca’ Rezzonico, Palazzo Moncenigo or the Scuola San Rocco hold concerts performing traditional Italian Christmas songs; while at world-famous La Fenice opera theater the winter program ranges from Mozart to Verdi offering priceless enriching performances. Prices and schedules always vary from place to place, some being free, some charging nominal admission, some requiring previous booking.

While walking around the city with almost no tourist crowds to obstruct the views and waiting lines, it is also advisable to keep in mind that most tourist attractions are closed on certain days around the holidays. Museums like the Doge’s Palace, the Galleria dell’Accademia, Museo Correr and Ca’ Rezzonico close on both December 26th and January 1st. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, however, is possibly the only museum in Venice to stay open on the New Year’s Day. Schedules for the vaporetto (water bus) may also vary and should be taken into consideration for moving around the city.

Hanukkah is also celebrated in Venice, in the part of sestiere Cannaregio known as the Ghetto – the site of the first Jewish ghetto in the world, where Judaism and Jewish traditions are kept alive and one can see beautifully illuminated menorahs, unique Murano Glass judaica, and delicious kosher food prepared for this special celebration.

All these joyful celebrations and performances lead Venetians to the very much awaited Christmas Eve dinner (la vigilia). During this evening, Christmas tables all over Venice overflow with traditional Venetian Christmas eve dishes mainly focused on fish and seafood: Venetian risotto, ravioli in capon broth, eel, mixed fried fish and an assortment of seafood with vegetables and polenta. When it comes to visitors, they should book the restaurant quite early, since many of them tend to run out of seats or simply close that day. Nonetheless, many great Venetian restaurants like La Zucca, Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, Alle Testiere, and Trattoria La Furatola, are always open for this special evening. After the Christmas Eve dinner, many Venetians take a stroll down the streets and canals and head to Saint Mark’s Basilica to attend midnight Mass, starting at 11.30. The midnight Christmas mass at San Marco is a unique experience for both Venetians and foreigners. This night, the Byzantine basilica is lit with hundreds of candles and incense, the famous golden mosaics set aglow, and the entire experience echoes the celebrations of the centuries past. Families and visitors alike flock to San Marco for grand celebratory experience on this special night. But the celebrations don’t stop here; Italians keep on celebrating with the Feast of Santo Stefano, on December 26th, leading the way to the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to enjoy a free live concert and choir.

This is the kind of luxury Venice offers, the richness of its beauty and the bliss of its peaceful wintry canals, that bring it closer to those otherwordly visions we recall from ancient paintings. This is what makes Venice an even more magical place around Christmas and winter holidays.