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Vols vers Venice
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The Italians would call it ‘un certo non so che’. The French would describe it as ‘un je ne sais quoi’. Whatever their native tongue, just about every visitor to Venice will agree that this enchanting city has ‘a certain something’.
Perhaps it’s in the gently meandering canals that thread their way under ornate stone bridges and spill into a rippling jade lagoon. Or in the elegant gondolas drifting idly through the waters, guided by boater-wearing gondoliers occasionally bursting into seductive operatic notes. Perhaps it’s in the honeycomb of intimate calli opening onto grand, sun-dappled piazzas. Or the opulent palazzi and Byzantine basilicas topped with glinting gilded domes. It might be in the vibrant Murano glass wares shimmering through the windows of shops nestled among the calli. Or in the succulent seafood served at a tucked-away trattoria, accompanied with a fizzing glass of Bellini. Beautiful and bewitching – Venice is all this and more.
Packed with glorious attractions, Venice’s historic epicentre is worth braving the peak season crowds for. Start with a coffee at a refined café on grand St Mark’s Square. Then take in the magnificent Byzantine architecture of St Mark’s Basilica and the gothic splendour of the Doge’s Palace. Visit the renowned La Fenice opera house and browse San Marco’s designer boutiques. On romantic breaks, book a gondola ride and share a kiss under the beautiful marble Bridge of Sighs at sunset.
Take a stroll along the picturesque waterfront of Castello, enjoying wonderful views of St Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace. Explore the city’s naval past at the Museo Storico Navale and admire masterpieces by Carpaccio at the San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. Discover a wide selection of shops, bars, restaurants and even a casino in Cannaregio. Or soak up the bohemian vibe of Dorsoduro, with its pretty canals, elegant palazzos and prestigious art museum, Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Wander around atmospheric San Polo and have your photograph taken by the iconic Rialto Bridge. Pick up souvenirs from one of the stalls dotted around this area, or browse the colourful array of fruit and vegetables for sale at the renowned Rialto markets. Or why not escape the hustle and bustle in charming Santa Croce? Discover its tucked-away corners and lovely meandering canals. Rest your weary feet at leafy San Giacomo dell’Orio square, where there is a fascinating 9th-century church.
Hop on the waterbus from Venice to Giudecca Island, where breathtaking panoramic views of the city are waiting to be enjoyed. While on the island be sure to visit the splendid 16th-century church of Il Redentore, with its majestic Roman pantheon-inspired façade. Designed by the same architect Andrea Palladio, and equally magnificent, is the church on the neighbouring island of San Giorgio Maggiore. For a taste of the seaside on Venice holidays, stretch out on the shores of the Lido.
Connected to Venice by rail and road bridges, the Mestre or mainland town is a modern hub that lacks the city’s historic beauty. For budget-friendly shopping however, it is the place to go. Head for the Centro Le Barche mall and the retail strip leading to the Piazza Ferretto. Watch the bustle from a café on this attractive square. Then visit the landmark 18th-century church, Duomo di San Lorenzo. Mestre’s entertainment options include a selection of cinemas and nightclubs.