I am very lucky to be able to call Venice my second home. Here is my local guide to the floating city, wearing my colorful Jodhpur dress to match the city!
Firstly forget Google Maps, the city is a labyrinth filled with dead ends and hidden pathways. You will have to be patient and accept that you'll get lost at least once! Don't be afraid to follow your nose and never forget to look up! Some of the most amazing frescos and mosaiques are hidden above your heads.
Approximately 20 million tourists visit Venice each year which makes tourism one of the most important industries of the city. Here's how to avoid the tourist traps...
Here are some of my favourite places:
Let's start with a cappuccino at the Rizzardini bar. My grandmother's and mother's favourite by far. They'll even say that it is the best in Italy! Rizzardini is extremely small and has no seating but it does offer delicious sweet and savoury pastries.
For a lunch with a view, on your way to the Rialto Bridge, choose one of the cicchetterie that face the canal. My favourite is the Naranzaria under the arcs of the Sotoportego de l'Erberia. Be careful, these restaurants are the first to drown in the laguna when the tide is high!
Otherwise, if you want to get creative in the kitchen, get up early and go to the Mercato Santa Sofia to select your fresh local ingredients! Be sure to taste Venice's specialty - "fondi di carciofi", the base of the artichoke, to be served with parsley and a lot of butter.
La Cantina Dospade is by far my favourite restaurant to dine at in Venice . Hidden under an arcade near the famous Rialto Bridge, here you will taste the best cicchetti served with local wines. I recommend making a reservation!
If you are looking for a place that also serves vegetarian options, Osteria La Zucca serves delicious recipes made with fresh natural ingredients. You can can get there by the canal!
You will have to look carefully to not miss Al Vecio Marangon, as it sits in the backstreets of Dorso Duro.
For the fish lovers a reservation at Le Antiche Carampane is a must!
Enough food, let's move onto the most important souvenir you could possibly bring back home: a colourful pair of velvet Friulane. You can wear them as extremely chic slippers at home or show them off with one of your colourful SZ pieces! The two best stores for picking up a pair or two are Calzature Parutto, and Piedaterre.
You will of course visit Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Guggenheim, Murano... but if you have time here are some museums, churches and Palazzi that will not disappoint you:
Le Scuole di San Rocco - one of the most prominent and oldest institutions of Venice that hold a large collection of Tintoretti's paintings.
La Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista.
San Sebastiano Church - walk into the painter Veronese's sanctuary. Not only this church holds a large collection of his majestic paintings but it is also where he was buried.
The newly restored Giardinetti Reali - take a stroll behind the Piazza San Marco in this little garden of heaven.
The Naval History Museum and the Natural History museum - a collection of impressive ship models and beautiful displays of Fauna and Flora. Quite atypical museums that are worth the detour.
Punta della Dogana - I would not recommend their exhibitions but the architecture is insane because of its location, it separates the Grand Canal and the Canale della Giudecca
Squero Tramontin - A family-run gondola construction business and also a very beautiful scenery.
Tre Oci -Beautiful palazzo that is now a photography museum. I have seen amazing exhibitions here including a retrospective on Helmut Newton!
After all this delicious food and exploring you deserve to make your way to the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a historic palazzo that is now a luxurious shopping mall. Make your way to the top of the palazzo with your Venetian Spritz and enjoy the breathtaking view at sunset. Chin chin! A presto !