20 Things to do in Venice – 15/20 Acqua Alta Bookshop

As you walk in the Acqua Alta bookshop you will be greeted by Luigi and one of his cats Luigi and one of his Cats at Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice (Marco Secchi)

Walk in the labyrinth of interconnected rooms, and you will see the full-sized gondola in the middle of the shop, overflowing with books then along to bathtubs filled with books and sleeping cats you will find a doorway leading straight out onto a canal where the water level seems a precarious few centimeters away from spilling into the room. It happened to us to get there in a rainy day and the owner was moving all the books from the floor to bathtubs and shelves because of the danger of high water level!

Keep searching (for books and memorable shots) and you’ll find yourself in a tiny quiet courtyard which hosts a staircase made entirely from books. Climb up to the top for a lovely view onto the Venice canals.

You may feel literally overwhelmed by books. New and old, romance and science fiction, best sellers and b-series novels, you can find anything here if you are patient enough to search. It’s possible that you won’t be able to find any specific books given the bizarre nature of the piles, or you may don’t like the smell of humidity or second hand books, but you should include a visit to Acqua Alta into your Venice tour anyway.

Libreria Acqua Alta Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa (Campiello Del Tintor) | 5176 - Castello, 30122 Venice, Italy

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If you are looking for unusual, rare, incredibly interesting books about Venice a REAL must is 
Libreria Editrice Franco Filippi Castello, Casselleria 5284 Venezia 30122
FRANCO IS A WONDERFUL GUY AND AN AMAZING LIBRARIAN AND EDITOR!

20 Things to do in Venice - 14/20 Getting Lost in Venice

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that is as important when you’re visiting Venice than just wandering aimlessly through its streets and alleys. If you only had 3-4 hours in the city, I’d recommend that you do this before you set foot inside a single museum or attraction – it’s that critical to enjoying your visit. By wandering (especially if you point yourself in the exact opposite of the direction where the herd is going) you can find Venice’s many charming and often-empty squares and streets, which goes a long way toward helping you appreciate the city. I’d almost say you could ignore basically everything else on this list and just stroll around without a map… But although I might not go that far (again, unless you’ve only got 4 hours or less), I do consider the sentence “get lost in Venice” an order, not a suggestion.

 

 

But really, the point of Venice – for me, anyway – is to wander its maze-like alleyways and bridges, getting thoroughly lost and then finding your way back to something familiar. It’s about accidentally finding a gondola workshop where the men are working their lathes into the groove of the boats outside in the sun. It’s about seeing a market boat (rather than a brick-and-mortar store) selling Venice’s few residents their vegetables and fish. And it’s quite a challenge to do any of that in a day-trip, or by staying close to the Piazza San Marco.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 13/20 – Eat seafood you've never seen before

Images from Venice  - Fotografie di Venezia...***Agreed Fee's Apply To All Image Use***.Marco Secchi /Xianpix.tel +44 (0)207 1939846.tel +39 02 400 47313. e-mail sales@xianpix.com.www.marcosecchi.com (Marco Secchi) The lagoon city has a long and glorious culinary tradition based on fresh seafood. A writhing, glistening variety of sea creatures swims from the stalls of the Rialto and Chioggia markets into local kitchens. Going with the flow of la cucina veneta requires a certain spirit of open minded experimentation. Not everybody has eaten granseola (spider crab) before, or garusoli (sea snails) or canoce (mantis shrimps), but Venice is definitely the place to try these marine curios.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 12/20 – Tour of Venice

A Venice tour has been a sought-after experience since the golden age of travel, when people set off on Grand Tours of the European continent. Its lasting allure is a testament to just how unique and unforgettable Venice is - as you look for a Venice tour to suit you, make sure it includes these elements:In addition to providing a deeper experience of the most famous sights, allows you to relax and enjoy your surroundings without the stress of needing to arrange all the varied elements of your trip. And in a city as labyrinthine as Venice, it can help to have a little added guidance so that exploring on your own is truly a pleasant experience.VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 17: Gondolas covered with snow rest in Bacino Orseolo on December 17, 2010 in Venice, Italy. Snow has fallen across much of Europe today and is expected to continue over the weekend, causing traffic chaos and disrupting Christmas deliveries. (Marco Secchi) * Art. Venice is a work of art in its own right, but the visual delights ensconced within the city's many museums should not be missed. You'll find plenty of classical treasures, as in the collection at the palazzo Ca'Rezzonico, but the Venetian art scene is as welcoming to modernity as it is to classicism - as evidenced by the Venice Biennale festival. A Venice Tour allows you to see works that run the gamut of styles and periods in the famous Peggy Guggenheim collection.

* Architecture. The fading grandeur of Venice's canal houses makes for an intriguing atmosphere everywhere you go in the city, but there are also some standout structures that shouldn't be missed. Perhaps foremost among them is the Basilica di San Marco, which is beautiful outside and nothing short of breathtaking inside. San Marco's glittering Byzantine mosaics bring Venice's history to life in stunning visuals. Also on the docket should be the legendary Bridge of Sighs and the marble halls of the Scuola Grand di San Rocco, decorated by one of Venice's most famous residents, Tintoretto.

* Wine. Italy and wine production are inextricably linked - and for good reason. On your Venice tour, you have a unique opportunity to taste the lighter side (in color, not taste) of Italy's wines. Tauck's Culturious experience takes you to visit makers of pinot grigio, Prosecco and grappa in the Veneto region, giving you insight into the cultivation, production and enjoyment of these white-grape-based beverages.

* Food. The food culture of Italy is incredibly varied and often fiercely regional. A well-planned Venice tour takes you to exceptional trattorias and cafes where the splendors of Venetian cuisine - particularly its seafood - are yours for the tasting. And don't miss the opportunity to stroll through the city's fresh food markets to see the quality and diversity of ingredients used in local dishes.

One of the Tour I recommend is here

20 Great Things to do in Venice 11/20 – Buy a Gondola!

Ok not a real Gondola but the best thing after that. Alberto Penzo in his wonderful shop  at S Polo 2681 sells amazing Venetians boats reproductions, not the tacky plastic ones you see walking around, we are talking about real gondolas! The Venetian lagoon has a well-established ship-building tradition. Couple that with an intense passion for boat making and you have a stunning collection of gondola model boat kits constantly in production and on sale.

Gilberto Penzo, born in Chioggia in 1954 from a family of craftsmen and shipbuilders, lives in Venice where for many years he has been conducting a vast research, gathering and organizing information about traditional Venetian boats. Explanations and direct examples of the last remaining gondola builders (squerariòi), surveys of ancient templates and patterns, and - in ideal cases - the direct measurement of intact boats, are the sources which allow the author to reconstruct their forms and the construction methods used. These have given rise to a series of books, construction plans, models for museums and private collections, restorations ans reconstructions of boats.With a group of friends who share the same interest, he founded the association Arzanà in 1992 which specializes in the study and conservation of historical Venetian boats.

If you are not coming to Venice soon you can get them here

20 Things to do in Venice 10/20 - Venice Handmade shoes

The women and not only them of Venice have always paid particular attention to shoes. Today Venice’s artisan shoemakers strike a balance between style and comfort, handcrafting a wide range of boots and shoes using traditional techniques revisited with creative flair. There are three currently plying their trade from workshops within a few minutes of Rialto Bridge. And all of them are women.

Venice  Daniela Ghezzo  Handmade Shoes in Venice.Daniela, who owns this workshop, decided to follow in the footsteps of the master shoemaker Rolando Segalin. Her skilled hands and imagination work together to produce a highly diverse range of handmade shoes. From classic brogues to contemporary footwear you are sure to find something to satisfy even the most eccentric tastes...***Agreed Fee's Apply To All Image Use***.Marco Secchi /Xianpix.tel +44 (0)207 1939846.tel +39 02 400 47313. e-mail sales@xianpix.com.www.marcosecchi.com (Marco Secchi)

When Daniela Ghezzo San Marco 4365, calle dei Fuseri, was studying painting at the Fine Arts Academy in Venice, she found herself constantly drawing footwear, and instinctively knew that this was her real calling. When she was 18, Ms. Ghezzo began spending her days in the Segalin atelier By the time Signor Segalin retired, Ms. Ghezzo, then 24, felt confident enough to take over. With an assistant who does the stitching, she now produces around 10 pairs of shoes a month, at prices ranging from 700€, or about $960, for women and 800€ for men. Her customers wait around six weeks for delivery.

Giovanna Zanella, Campo San Lio, 5641  30122 Venice on the other hand, has an eye-catching range of footwear on display at her colorful workshop in the Castello district. While Ms. Ghezzo favors the classic look, Ms. Zanella goes for flamboyance and delights in the outré touch. The daughter of a master glass-blower, she first opened her store 15 years ago, making hats, bags and other accessories, but shoes have been her sole focus for the past 10 years.

The third shoemaker also learned from Mr. Segalin during two extended visits to Venice before she set up her own atelier in the San Polo district in 2003. Her background, however, is otherwise entirely different. Gabriele Gmeiner   campiello del sol san polo 951 30125 Venice was born in Austria and took a diploma in footwear technology and design in London, which she followed with workshops in Vienna and Paris. Later came experience with John Lobb in London and Hermès in Paris.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 9/20 – Tour the Lagoon

If you're spending more than a few days in Venice, take time to visit the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. Explore the famous islands of  - Murano, Burano and Torcello - on a half-day or full day excursion. You'll see  glass-blowing display on Murano, shop for lace on Burano, be lost in the wonderful colours of Burano and visit Venice's first church on the tranquil island of Torcello. This tour is a great introduction to the magical islands of the Venetian lagoon Burano Venice  Colours and lights of Burano...HOW TO LICENCE THIS PICTURE: please contact us via e-mail at sales@xianpix.com or call our offices in Milan at (+39) 02 400 47313 or London   +44 (0)207 1939846 for prices and terms of copyright. First Use Only ,Editorial Use Only, All repros payable, No Archiving.© MARCO SECCHI (Marco Secchi)

You'll reach the islands on water buses operated by ACTV, the Venice public-transportation company best place will be from Fte Nove. Allow a full day for the entire excursion, or half a day if you skip one of them.

ACTV's lagoon water buses can be crowded during peak season, on weekends, or if local groups of senior citizens or schoolchildren are travelling between the islands. If crowds bother you, or if you're unwilling to stand on a moving boat when seats aren't available, consider one of these alternatives:

  • Take an escorted tour of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. This half-day tour is more expensive than a tour by public transportation, but it's worth considering if your schedule is tighter than your budget. The trip is offered by Viator, our sightseeing-tour partner.
  • Hire a water taxi by the half-day or day, which could easily cost several hundred euros. If you want the services of a private guide, try a customized lagoon itinerary from WalksInsideVenice or the Venice Tourist Guides Association and let the guide arrange transportation.

Tips:

  • Organized tours don't give you much time on the islands, so we'd recommend traveling independently unless you're in a hurry or have limited mobility.
  • Instead of buying individual tickets for the boat trips between the islands, buy a 12-hour to 7-day  tourist card at any Hellovenezia or ACTV ticket booth. (See our Vaporetto Fares article.) Or order the tourist office's Venice Connected pass before you leave home, if you can figure out the byzantine pricing scheme.
  •  If you have access to the Internet during your trip, you can check boat schedules at the official ACTV Web site.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 8/20 – Buy a Carnival Mask

Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. For a list of what to do during Carnival check my previous post The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.

Venetian masks are characterized by their ornate design, featuring bright colours such as gold or silver and the use of complex decorations in the baroque style. Many designs of Venetian masks stem from Commedia dell'arte. They can be full-face masks (e.g. the bauta) or eye masks (e.g. the Columbina). Other types of masks are Medico della Peste, (The Plague Doctor), Moretta and Volto

Venice Masks are hand made at Ca del Sol in preparation of Carnival 2011...***Agreed Fee's Apply To All Image Use***.Marco Secchi /Xianpix.tel +44 (0)207 1939846.tel +39 02 400 47313. e-mail sales@xianpix.com.www.marcosecchi.com (Marco Secchi)

One of my favorite shops for Masks is Ca del Sol in Fondamenta Osmarin near Ponte dei Greci..

Another very nice shop is "La bottega dei Mascareri", of brothers Sergio and Massimo Boldrin, located at the foot of the Rialto bridge in Venice since 1984, offers authentic masks worked in a centuries-old craft.

if you have any recommended shop please do add it in the comments or send us an email and we will add it.....

 

 

20 Great Things to do in Venice 7/20 – Music

Experience (well-played) Vivaldi in Venice

For many, experiencing Vivaldi in Venice is an absolute must. But more discerning music-lovers might feel somewhat Baroqued out by the predictable programmes performed by local groups, whose technical ability rarely goes beyond the so-so to fairly good range. Exceptions are the Venice Baroque Orchestra, a global success, and the orchestra of La Fenice, one of the best in the country. As well as its opera and ballet seasons, Teatro La Fenice (Venice) La Fenice has at least two concert seasons a year. The Teatro Malibran shares the Fenice’s programmes and also has its own chamber music season, with performances by the Società Veneziana dei Concerti.

Mestre’s Teatro Toniolo also has a symphony and chamber music season. Most other musical events take place in Venice’s churches or scuole. St Mark’s basilica holds a smattering of ceremonial concerts throughout the year, with the patriarch deciding who is to attend. But lovers of sacred music should catch one of two regular Sunday appointments: the sung Mass at St Mark’s (10.30am) and the Gregorian chant on the island of San Giorgio (11am).

20 Great Things to do in Venice 6/20 - Art

Tour the Venetian masters of art

Venice is a unique and precious repository of art. From the late Middle Ages until the mid 18th century, artists of the highest caliber left thier mark all over the city and works by Venice's grand masters Titian (c1488-1576), Tintoretto (c1518-94), Canaletto (1697-1768) and Tiepolo (1727-1804) can still be viewed in situ today. See Titian’s glorious 'Assumption' above the high altar at I Frari, Tintoretto's epic masterpiece 'Crucifixion' at Scuola Grande di San Rocco, and Tiepolo's monumental frescos at the Pietà and Ca’ Rezzonico.

For a one-stop-shop of Venice’s foremost artistic treasures, head for the Gallerie dell’Accademia.

VENICE, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23:  Two women admire two different paintings by Lorenzo Lotto at the press preview of Tribute to Lorenzo Lotto - The Hermitage Paintings at Accademia Gallery on November 23, 2011 in Venice, Italy. The exhibition which includes two very rare & never seen before paintings opens from the 24th November 2011 to 26th February 2012 in Italy. (Marco Secchi/Getty Images)

20 Great Things to do in Venice 5/20 - Fireworks

Watch the New Year's Eve Fireworks from S Giorgio This tip is still warm...I just discovered it yesterday. Instead of watching the New Year's Eve fireworks in St Mark's Square where yesterday evening there were more than 70,000 people why not watch them from S Giorgio with beautifully lit St Mark's and Palazzo Ducale? VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 31:   Fireworks display are seen in St. Mark's Square from S Giorgio during New Year's Eve street party on December 31, 2011 in Venice, Italy.  Official figures say that around seventy thousand people gathered in St. Mark Square for this year's street celebrations. (Marco Secchi)

 

20 Great Things to do in Venice 4/20 - View over Venice

Get a bird's-eye view of Venice

At almost 99m (325ft), the Campanile is the city’s tallest building, originally built between 888 and 912 (in July 1902 it collapsed, imploding in a neat pyramid of rubble. It was rebuilt exactly 'as it was, where it was', as the town council of the day promised). Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III rode a horse to the top of the original in 1451; these days visitors take the lift. The view is superb, taking in the Lido, the whole lagoon and (on a clear day) the Dolomites in the distance.

But my favourite view is from the Campanile of San Giorgio.....you can get there taking the Vaporetto n2 and is just one stop. The entrance is from the beautiful Church, and usually you should be able to admire as well Tintoretto  the Last Supper, 1592-94, one of the last works the artist painted. If is not there....write to Mr Vittorio Sgarbi one of the worst curator of the Italian Pavillion at Biennale...that decided to get it on loan to "sex up" his own very poor choice of "art" for 2011 Biennale Arte (Marco Secchi)

P&O Cruise Ship "Oriana" enters Canale della Giudecca

20 Great Things to do in Venice 3/20 - Ice Cream

Cool down with a delicious gelato

Most Venetians agree that some of the city’s best gelato is served in Boutique del Gelato, a tiny outlet on busy salizzada San Lio. Be prepared to be patient though, because there’s always a huge crowd waiting to be served. See it as quality assurance – it’s worth the wait.

VENICE, ITALY - JUNE 30:  A young customer buys an ice cream from Carlo Pistacchi's Gelateria Alaska in Santa Croce on June 30, 2011 in Venice, Italy. Carlo has been making ice-cream using fresh ingredients for more than 25 years and is renowned for experimenting with new flavours, offering his customers classic favourites such as rum and raisin or chocolate as well as some of his more unconventional creations such as asparagus or rocket salad and orange.  (Marco Secchi)

At Alaska Gelateria-Sorbetteria Carlo Pistacchi is passionate about making ice-cream and experimenting with new flavours using only the freshest natural ingredients. Stick to tried and true choices such as hazelnut or yoghurt, or branch out to sample seasonally changing exotic flavours, such as artichoke, fennel, asparagus or ginger.

Will add my best Ice Cream parlours in Venice soon

20 Great Things to do in Venice 2/20 - St Mark's

See three major sights in one square

VENICE, ITALY - DECEMBER 17:  A general view of St Mark Square covered with snow on December 17, 2010 in Venice, Italy. Snow has fallen across much of Europe today and is expected to continue over the weekend, causing traffic chaos and disrupting Christmas deliveries. (Marco Secchi)

Standing in the middle of the magnificent piazza San Marco is an experience in itself: Napoleon referred to it as the ‘drawing room of Europe’, apt today as, at times, it appears that much of Europe’s population is crammed into this great square. But it's St Mark’s basilica (Basilica di San Marco), often seen as the living testimony of Venice’s links with Byzantium; Doge’s Palace, once Venice's political and judicial hub; and Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built between 1496 and 1506, that are, not just the square's, but some of the city's main attractions.

20 Great Things to do in Venice 1/20 - Gondola

Get around in a gondola

So obvious. No trip to Venice would be complete without a punt down one of the city's picturesque canals in a traditional gondola. The Istituzione per la Conservazione della Gondola e Tutela del Gondoliere (Gondola Board; 041 528 5075, www.gondolavenezia.it) website has recommended itineraries. Prices below are for the hire of the gondola, for six passengers or less.

8am-7pm €80 for 40mins; €40 for each additional 20mins. 7pm-8am €100 for 40mins; €50 for each additional 20mins.

 (Marco Secchi)