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Venice Tour

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Venice is  unique:  entirely built on water, full of calli, the  way  the streets are called in Venice, and canals crossing sumptuous palaces and magnificent churches, colorful street markets and  the quiet, and sometimes lively lagoon. Venice was born as  an archipelago of islands, in the middle of a marshy lagoon. Over the centuries  the city became a powerful maritime republic extended from the Alps in the north  to the Mediterranean Sea in the south. Devoted to maritime trade, Venice bought and sold salt, and got the exotic spices and fabrics from the East. The Venetian trade took place with merchant boats sailing backwards  and forwards to the main ports of the Mediterranean sea to reach the Black Sea. Towards the West, the Venetian influence stretched over Treviso, Vicenza, Verona.Venice with its fish –like shape  is divided into six districts, called sestrieri: CASTLE, SAN MARCO, SAN POLO, SANTA CROCE, DORSODURO, CANNAREGGIO. The administrative division into sestrieri dates back to the late eleventh century. Each Sestriere brought together several parishes and was characterized by a certain sociological specialization. While in the San Marco, the very centre, took place the political and commercial life, with the highest concentration of nobles, in the suburbs  took place poorest and more  tiring activities.


St. Mark  Basilica: Byzantine Basilica overlooking St. Mark’s Square. With its elaborate style symbolizes the power of the Venetian Republic. The old chapel of the Doge hosted coronations, funerals and processions. Well known all over the world for its rich mosaics, oriental treasures and 500 columns dating back to  the third century. The Basilica is built as Greek cross surmounted by five domes, probably  inspired by  the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople (dating back to 1071) In 1807 the church became Cathedral.

Things to see:

1.West Façade : a remarkable succession of domes, columns, arches and spirals interspersed with marble statues and mosaics.

2. The  Atrium Mosaics: strips of gold on glass tiles telling  stories from the Old Testament.

3. The Floor Mosaics: a masterpiece of multicolored stones evoking  the sea, geometric designs and animal forms.

4. Pala d’Oro: the altarpiece was commissioned in Constantinople in 976. It consists of 250 panels with 1927 gems and cloisonné plaques.

5. The Mosaics in the Cupola dell’Ascensione: depicting scenes from the New Testament.6.The Mosaics in the Cupola della Pentecoste: illustrating the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of flame on the head of the Apostles.

7. Museum: here you will find the famous quartet of bronze horses covered with gold. Spoils of the Fourth Crusade, these equestrian statues originally adorned the Hippodrome of Constantinople.

8. Loggia of the Horses: on this beautiful balcony you can admire the  copies of the original horses you can see in the museum. Here you can see the old lead gutters and groups of columns in different styles.

9. The Tetarchi: these figures in red porphyry from Egypt of the fourth century could represent the Saracens.

10. The Treasury: consists of precious rock crystal goblets manufactured by medieval artisans, gold and silver, and relics of the Venetian conquests in the East

Palazzo Ducale: great combination of Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. It was the official residence of the 120 doges who ruled Venice. Artists such as Tintoretto, Titian and Bellini competed to beautify the building with paintings and sculptures.

Things to see:

1.The Façade: a colonnade with 36 capitals in Istrian stone holds a loggia with columns and pierced arches.

2. Room of the Great Council: covered with tapestries  evoking  the Venetian victories. You can admire a frieze depicting 76 doges.

3. The Senate Room: where the members of the Senate together with the doge  discussed  the  war.

4. Prisons: a maze of cells connected by corridors and stairs, from which in 1756 the well known Casanova escaped over the rooftops. You can admire  graffiti of prisoners. The prisons were in use until the 40s of the last century.

5. Ponte dei Sospiri, one of the most famous bridges in the world, a baroque structure of the  beginning of the seventeenth century. Connecting the palaces  to the prisons. The Tradition tells that,  crossing the bridge,  the condemned prisoners sighed giving a last look at the sky and the sea.

6. The Scala d’Oro\Golden Stair: richly decorated with stucco in 24-carat gold leaf brought the guests of honour to  the  second floor. 

7. Sala Shield: houses gigantic globes and world maps nel1762 unknown. A map shows the travels of Marco Polo in China.

8. Sala arms: charming collection of firearms, weapons and armor ceremony Eastern and Western.

9. Porta of the Charter: the main entrance of the Palazzo has a beautifully carved portal in 1438 by the Family Bon. Nicknamed the “door card” because of it’s edicts were exposed.

10. Appartamenti the Doge: communicating rooms are decorated with rich brocades, friezes triumphant, majestic fireplaces, gilded ceilings and artwork. 

SAINT MARK SQUARE: it was once the garden of a monastery. The Basilica and the Doge’s Palace overlook the east side, while the imposing buildings on the other sides were the background  of grand processions to celebrate the victorious, visiting dignitaries and festivities. The west side was remodeled by Napoleon, who wanted to build a royal palace. Today the square  the heart of the city  life, with a museum complex, elegant cafés and live music.

Things to see:

1.Saint Mark Basilica

2. The Doge’s Palace

3. The Clock Tower: Renaissance tower with two bronze Moors striking the hour with a hammer. In Epiphany Day and  Ascension Day at every hour we witness  the mechanical procession of the Magi led by an angel. According to legend, after finishing the masterpiece, the inventors’ eyes were plucked out to unable them to repeat the masterpiece

4. Bell Tower: from its 98,5 -mt -high top (accessible by lifts) you can admire the city and the lagoon. Over the centuries it was the lighthouse, watchtower and place of Torture. It was carefully reconstructed after the disastrous collapse of 1902.

5. Piazzetta: it was dock for boats witnessing  the arrival of distinguished visitors in the golden days of the Republic.

6. Saint Mark and Saint Teodoro Columns: these two granite columns with the symbols of the saints were erected in 1172 by Nicolò Barattieri. Public executions took place here.

7. Piazzetta dei Leoncini: you can admire a pair of red- Verona-stone lions. Here the  vegetable market took place.

8. Old and New Procuratie: the buildings of the 15thcentury were the residence of the prosecutors, officers of the state administration.

9. Caffè Florian. The oldest cafè in Europe  preserves the wood paneling, tables with marble tops and mirrors with gilded frames of 1720.

10. Royal Gardens: Public Gardens created in the Napoleonic era.

THE GRAND CANAL: The majestic “main street” in Venice, it is one of the 177 canals crossing the city and is 4 kilometers long. It creeps in the heart of the city on a double curve. The beautiful palaces  facing on its banks, the gondolas, water buses, water taxis and barges sailing in it make the stunning scenery.

Things to see:

1. Fondaco of the Turks: This Venetian-Byzantine building, which for two centuries was the center of the Turkish trade, is now home to the Museum of Natural History.

2. Ca’ Pesaro: this baroque palace is the last work of the architect  Longhena and today a museum of modern art.

3. Rialto Bridge: built in 1588, in Istrian stone, is 8 meters high. and has a span of 28 meters. It ‘s the most famous bridge in Venice.

4. Riva del Vin: one of the few ways available on the Grand Canal, The name comes from the fact that once was the point of discharge of the barrels. Today sunny street full of restaurants.

5. Ca’ Rezzonico: The imposing building characterized by majestic stairs. Today it is the Museum about the Venice of the eighteenth century.

6. The  Academy Bridge: built of wood in 1932, from here breathtaking views of the Grand Canal.

7. Ca’ Dario Palace: unmistakable palace, not too high, slightly inclined to the right, has the beautiful Renaissance façade of Istrian stone. Is said to be haunted, for a series of disasters that have hit the various owners.

8. Santa Maria della Salute: the Architecht Longhena’s masterpiece (1630). Inside this Baroque church, you can admire Tiziano and Tintoretto’s works. Its dome, supported by swirls of marble spiral, commemorates the end of the plague in Venice.

9. Punta della Dogana: on top of the old customs, as  a weathervane, the image of Fortune. Here the Grand Canal flows into Saint mark basin and the lagoon.

10. Harry.s Bar: bar loved by Hemingway and the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail. Opened in 1931 by  Arrigo Cipriani, it bears the name of American man who financed it.

THE ACADEMY GALLERIES: The Academy Galleries are the corresponding Uffizi. A charming collection of masterpieces. Giovanni Battista Piazzetta started the collection in 1750 and, in 1807, Napoleon enriched it with works from the suppressed churches.

Things to see:

1.Pala St. Job Altar: was painted in 1487 for the church of Saint Jobby  Giovanni Bellini. Main Subject s are San Sebastian and San Rocco next to the Virgin. Room 2.

2. The  Storm: Portrait of a woman nursing her child, in the background the storm. It was painted by Giorgione in 1506. It is located in Room 5.

3. Convito in the Levi’s House: the painting by Veronese (1573) takes up an entire wall of Room 10. At the time, it  raised controversy: commissioned as “LAST SUPPER” the ecclesiastical authorities were incensed by the inclusion of “dogs, buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other nonsense like that,” so that the Veronese had to change its  title. Room 10.

4.Pietà: although unfinished, the latest work by Tiziano (1576) is considered his masterpiece, full of light and a pervasive sense of anguish. room 10

5. Meeting  and departure of  the fiancées Orsola and Ereo: the grand narrative cycle of Carpaccio (1495) of a Breton English princess and  prince. Room 21.

6. Procession in Saint Mark Square (Room 20) part of Bellini’s cycle (1496) on the Procession of St. Mark’s day in 1444.

7. Our Lady of OrangeTree: by Cima da Conegliano (1946-48) is animated with partridges and plants. Room 2.

8. Incoronation of the Virgin splendid polyptych (1350) by the most important Venetian artist of the fourteenth century, Paolo Veneziano. It is the first work of Sala 1.9.Portrait of a gentleman: it is a self-portrait by Lorenzo Lotto (1528) who was known for his work on introspection Research. Room 7.

10. Rosalba Carriera’s Portraits: late Baroque works in soft pastel colors. Room 17.

SANTA Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: masterpiece of Venetian Gothic architecture, this church of the fifteenth century built for  the Franciscan friars took more than one hundred years to be completed. Inside there are wonderful treasures from priceless works by Tiziano and  Bellini to the doges’ tombs  and masterpieces by artists like the Canova.

Things to see:

1.The ‘Assunta: splendid performance by Tiziano (1518) of the Ascension of Mary. This canvas is the focal point of the church.

2. Jubè: wonderful panel that divides the nave from the choir, fusion of Renaissance and Gothic. Beautifully carved by Pietro Lombardo and Bartolomeo Bon (1475)

3. The choir Chairs: 124 seats engraved on wood by Marco Cozzi (1468).

4. Madonna Enthroned with Saints: Bellini’s opera (1488), it seems painted with liquefied gems, like Henry James wrote about the triptych.

5. The Bell Tower: imposing building of the fourteenth century,for its height, it is the second bell tower in Venice. 

6. Statuae of St. John the Baptist: wooden statue by Donatello created in 1450, is located in the Florentine Chapel.

7. Mausoleum of Canova: colossal monument (1822) based on the Canova’s draft for the  tomb of Tiziano. It was a tribute by the the sculptor’s students.

8. Monumento of Doge Francesco Foscari: nice tribute to the man he brought Venice to the maximum expansion.

9. Monument to Tiziano: he died of  plague in 1576 and  immediately buried in the church thanks to a special authorization, but the imposing mausoleum was built 300 years later.

10. Mausoleum of the Doge Giovanni Pesaro: monstrous figures hold up the black marble sarcophagus of  this macabre Baroque monument.

CAMPO SANTA MARGHERITA: picturesque square in the district of Dorsoduro, owes its name to the Christian martyr St. Margaret of Antiopia, perhaps invented character but very popular in Medieval Times. Patron saint of pregnancies, she is painted in a niche in the northern wall of the field with his emblem, the dragon.

Things to see:

1.Ex church of Santa Margherita: a writhing dragon, a symbol of the martyrdom of the saint, adorns the base of the tower.

2. Palazzo Foscolo-Corner: magnificent palace of the fourteenth century, above the entrance portal a beautiful Byzantine-style bezel bears the Family coat of arms.

3. Scuola Grande of the Carmine: with its wonderful  rooms decorated by Tiepolo’s masterpieces.

4. Calle del Forno (Oven): characteristic street leading to Piazzale Roma and  always crowded with busy people. Here once stood an oven.5. Varoteri’s House: a beautiful bas-relief of the Virgin who protects a group of merchants in Adoration decorates the former headquarters of the corporation of tanners, dating back to 1725.

6. Corte the Fondaco: curious small courtyard with arches of brick. In this place there was a stock of flour.

7. Church of Santa Maria del Carmine: richly decorated Church, it survived the suppression of the Carmelite Order, by Napoleon, who touched the nearby monastery.

8. La “Casa del Moro” was Christopher Moro’s home. He was  the son of a noble family sent to rule Cyprus in 1508. He was inspiration for Shakespeare in Othello.

9. Rio Novo: dug in 1932-3 as a shortcut from Piazzale Roma to the Grand Canal, the canal was closed to boats to preserve the buildings.

10 .Altane: wooden platforms on the roofs common in Venetian palaces that were used by the ladies to clear the hair, standing in the sun with a hat with a brim without coverage.

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION: placed in a wide and bright place,it is home to more than 200 works of contemporary artists representing the major avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism. This important collection, created by  the passionate art collector, Peggy Guggenheim , is housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni (XVII sec.).

Things to see:

1.The Poet: Pablo Picasso’s portrait  (1911) made with a limited palette of ocher and brown.

2. Bird in space: brass sculpture (1932-40) created by Constantin Brancusi.

3. The Bride Dressing: portrait of a bride dressed in orange and assisted by humans and animals (1940). Work by  the German surrealist Max Ernst who was Peggy Guggenheim’s husband .

4.The Empire of Light: magical light effects on dark trees and house designed by a lamp in contrast with the day light and   the fluffy clouds in the sky (1953-4), by René Magritte.

5. Walking Woman: truncated female figure (1932), inspired by the Etruscan style, designed by Alberto Giacometti.

6. The Moon Woman: canvas (1942) dominated by a skeletal figure with a strange prominent curve. It is  a work of Jackson Pollock at young age

7. Magical garden: work intentionally childish by Paul Klee(1926), with sketched shapes and spots and palaces depicting the desire of the “newborn”.

8. Furniture: masterpiece hanging in the atrium of the building which  sways gently in the breeze (1941) Made by Alexander Calder.

9. The City Angel: on the steps of the terrace, this winged horse with Bronze Horseman (1948) by the sculptor Marino Marini welcomes the boats.

10. Three Standing Figures: well set up in the garden of the Nasher Sculpture, these abstract works (1953) by Henry Moore were inspired by the Italian bell towers

A DAY IN SAINT MARK: Morning: Visit of  The Doge Palace, do not miss the Senate floor, the Hall of the Great Council, the Prisons and the Bridge of Sighs. Possibly visit the Basilica of San Marco at noon to admire the mosaics illuminated by the light. Have your lunch at Harry’s Bar, as the hero of Hemingway in “BEYOND THE RIVER.” Enjoy the carpaccio, invented here by Cipriani Afternoon: The Mercerie, the paradise for shopping,  along the road connecting RIALTO  with Saint Mark Square, the realm of high-fashion boutiques and souvenir shops in glass and handmade paper. Return to Saint Mark Square in time to enjoy Venice and the lagoon from the Bell Tower Top at sunset.

A DAY IN DORSODURO: Morning: the Accademia Galleries are  enormous, therefore, choose a part of them for your visit. Do not miss the works of Bellini and Carpaccio. Walk  to the east passing over the Church of Santa Maria della Salute to Punta della Dogana, perfect place to take  pictures of Saint Mark. Walk on to the Zattere and the Giudecca Canal. Afternoon: walk from CAMPO SANTA MARGHERITA to the Scuola Grande dei Carmini to admire the paintings by Tiepolo. Observe quiet the funny architecture of this square: it is one of the best places to admire and observe the city life.

A DAY IN CANNAREGGIO: Morning: Galleria Franchetti in the lovely Ca ‘d’Oro. Admire the balconies overlooking  the Grand Canal and the mosaics in the courtyard. JEWISH GHETTO, very evocative and interesting, here you can take a guided tour of the synagogues. Afternoon: walk along the canal to the BRIDGE OF THREE ARCHES and the CHURCH OF SAINT JOB. Madonna Dell’Orto where you can admire the works by Tintoretto . CAMPO DEI MORI, in this square you will see the three statues of the Moors (they were merchants) in Arabic style.

A DAY IN SAN POLO: Morning: Scuola Grande di San Rocco: admire the paintings by Tintoretto. RIALTO MARKET: fresh market, fish market, San Giacomo di Rialto, public Rostrum Camerlenghi Palace, Portico of the Banco Giro, Ruga degli Orefici (Goldsmiths), Views of the GRAND CANAL, New Factories. Here visitors can not miss a crossing of the Grand Canal with one of the eight gondolas ferry still in use.Afternoon: Old-red light area of Rio Terà Rampani, hence the term “carampane. “Campo San Giacomo, with its Church and  the  buildings of the Faculty of Architecture in Venice.

THE NORTHERN LAGOON: Things to see: Torcello – Burano – Murano – Mazzorbo – San. Francesco del Deserto – San. Michele Erasmo – New Lazaretto – Certosa – Punta Sabbioni.

THE LAGOON BY BOAT: Morning: buy a daily ticket “north lagoon”. Take a boat to Murano. Here you will see  the art of glass in a furnace. Enjoy the GRAND CANAL OF MURANO before taking FOUNDATIONS MANIN with its medieval arcades. Take the ferry to Burano. The brightly colored houses, laces and  fish are the features of this wonderful island. Afternoon: sail to TORCELLO where  you will find the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics in the world and Torcello Basilica. Next to the Basilica you can visit the Church of Santa Fosca.

FROM JESOLO TO VENICE: You can get the bus to Punta Sabbioni, or you can go by car where you can easily park and there, every half an hour the boat to Venice leaves. Or you can go to Venice directly by bus, missing the crossing and view of the lagoon