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Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, or Venezia, is like a dream in its beauty, romance, illusion and architecture suspended above the intricate tapestry of canals. Established as a trading centre it grew to be one of the most powerful, opulent and dazzling cities in the world.

Made up of a hundred and seventeen islands it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still as enchanting and exquisite as it was at the height of its power. It remains the capital of the Veneto region.

Today its popularity is causing this majestic city to tackle its slow sink into the sea and retain its original regal beauty. However the conservation of Venice has been continuous through the ages and with the recent ban on very large cruise ships entering the port, it looks to survive for centuries to come.

 

venice-01

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

 

Stay

Palazzetto Pisani is hidden gem of a hotel past the drifting melodies of a neighbouring Conservatorio Musica, overlooking the Grand Canal; this is beautifully preserved slice of Venetian History. The palazzetto (small palace) is actually two homes joined the wealthy Pisani Family acquired a façade on the canal and joined their own house to it. It is now a beautifully restored boutique hotel, although sometimes still inhabited by the family, retaining its grandeur and history whilst maintaining the intimacy of a private property.

Seeped in history and romance the descendants still maintain the history of the property and its unique place in Venetian history. Stay in the Doge’s Suite and adjoining main living room on the ‘noble floor’ at the top of the palace. Sit on the balcony sipping wine and watching the busy bustle of boats navigating the Grand Canal, a sweeping view from L’Accademia to Punta Della Dogana. As Dusk settles over this surreally beautiful city it is the perfect place to witness such wonder.

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

Inside the main living area ancestors silently observe from walls whilst you can escape into this magical world for a few hours.

The suite is a magnificent cacophony of silks and a gold gilded bed inlaid wit mirrors, tapestry and delicately hand painted walls. Sleep in splendour where many aristocrats, scandals and stars have within this extravagantly elegant enclave. Dazzling and tasteful this is a suite that can only come from a fascinating and fairy tale dynasty in one of the most opulent cities in the world.

Winding down the polished corridors is a bright dining room dominated by a shining chandelier. Enjoy brunch overlooking the Guggenheim of Italian coffee and pastries. For the ultimate romance book the small room and let them create a special menu drawn from the lagoon such as shrimp ravioli, fish and of course chocolate and Prosecco. Depart by gondola or boat from the pier at the bottom of the polished wood and vaulted stairs. Slip into the night or the busy daytime into the bustling Grand Canal and then through the quiet waterways that run throughout this intriguing masterpiece of a city.

Slip back in time and return to sleep in a piece of Venetian history at Palazzo Pisani.

www.palazzettopisani.com

 

Sightseeing

Venice is a living breathing working piece of art. Everywhere you turn is an amazing piece of architecture, a story, a work of a genius or just a beautiful scene as if in a permanent movie set.

There are must visit places in Venezia, such as St. Marks Square to gaze upon the stunning Basilica, the Doges Palace, Guggenheim and the infamous Bridge Of Sighs, the last crossing of prisoners on the way to meet their end.

The Basilica of San Marco is the most famous cathedral in Venice that lies at the end of the Piazza San Marco, the centre of Venice, (St.Marks Square) and is perfect example of Italian – Byzantine architecture that so influenced this city during the height of its trade with the East. It is attached to the Doge’s Palace and used to be the personal chapel of the Doge but has then became the central cathedral for the city in 1803. Built in the 11th Century it has been nicknamed the Chiesa d’Oro (Gold Church) due to its domes that glisten gold in the sunlight.

Gold definitely is the defining colour of the interior covered with mosaics that stretch over about eight thousand square meters, with the majority using traditional gold tesserae. Some restoration work has been commissioned from glass rather than the original that has somewhat dimmed the brightness of some areas but has not diminished the dazzling esoteric beauty of this incredible cathedral.

A stroll around the square will give you a view of the magnitude and magnificence of this incredible enclave set on a beautiful estuary of islands. Drop in for a Bellini at Harry’s Bar where everyone from Hemingway to Callas has graced this famous little haunt.

For art the city itself is an artwork blossoming from the Renaissance itself but the Penny Guggenheim Museum houses one of the most important collections of 20th Century artwork in the world. It is housed in Peggy Guggenheim’s former palazzo on the Grand Canal and holds fantastic exhibitions as well as a stunning sculpture garden.

 

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Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

 

Savour

Venice naturally is home to some incredible seafood and where better to start the day than at the Pescheria (fish market) and Erberia (vegetable markets) known as the Rialto Markets as it is just over the Rialto Bridge. Not only do get to discover another side of Venice that lives over this side of the bridge of smaller labyrinths of alleyways, ladies hanging their laundry and a feel of everyday life in this city that can often feel like one big museum.

Early morning at the market is a place to observe Venetian life, look at the plethora of beautiful fresh seafood arriving off the boats and vegetables being barged in from the canals. Late morning beckons the tables being laid out in front a small line of trattoria that lie between the bridge and market where you can literally see the fish being brought over and cooked on the spot. Osteria Bancogiro is a charming no frills establishment next to the market and is best place to eat fresh and local in Venice.

http://www.osteriabancogiro.it

 

Shopping

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

Venice is a shopping paradise from designer labels, leather gloves, antiques, jewellery and Venetian glass. Amble through alleyways and get lost in handmade map shops, sweet shops bubbling over with confections and treasure troves of vintage clothing and furniture.

Heading over to Murano Island by boat though takes you into the heart of the age old tradition of glass blowing that has crafted the chandeliers, glasses, vases and jewellery of Venetian nobility for centuries, since starting on the island in 1281. So highly regarded were they that they were allowed to marry into nobility, as they were the only ones in the known world at the time that knew how to make mirrors and multi-coloured glass. The catch to this high esteem were they were also not allowed to leave the republic for risk of having their hands chopped off!

Although now there is not as much risk, the skilled artisans are under threat from competition from the mass produced factories in China. However no machine can replace the intricate craftsmanship of these skilled glassblowers. For something truly Venetian, this is a wonderful form of artistry to support and collect.

 

Stroll

The best way to explore Venice is by foot and vaporetto. The only real way to see Venice is to get lost in its winding alleyways and myriad of canals. There is also much more to Venice than the busy and bustling centre of town. Head over to the Giardini Pubblici a few stops by vaporetto or a long stroll that is a large green space to relax or get some exercise. The next stop along on a neighbouring island is the Lido. A little past its prime as an elegant resort in the 1800’s to 1940’s, it is now still a sleepy seaside place that is a good place to escape for a few hours from the velocity of Venice tourism. There are so many enchanted alleyways and hidden discoveries from secret workshops and gardens to the best gelato you will never find again. Venice is a beautiful book that never tells the same story twice.

 

venice-06

Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies, Palazzo Pisani & Venice Tourism

 

Sinking

Venice does have a problem with submergence; it has sunk eleven inches in the last century. It is not rare to see divers whilst navigating the waterways installing new wooden beams under buildings. During winter when Aqua Alta, or high tide, hits in combination with the rain it is not uncommon to be knee deep in water. Naturally this is a huge threat to the architecture and priceless artworks or frescoes and furnishings that are found throughout the palazzos and churches of Venice.

Cultural landscapes such as Venice need levels of conservation and preservation as much as any fragile ecosystem and in many ways are more challenging. A recent ban on large cruise ships has helped curb erosion in the estuary and the problems of sheer numbers of people putting pressure on the restricted infrastructure. However the main problem is rising sea levels and the fact that many of the wooden beams that prop up this city are rotting and damaged with time.

Many groups are involved in helping Venice tackle this problem and one of the first foundations was Venice in Peril who fund an array of scientific, restoration and support schemes throughout the city actively preserving this magical kingdom for the future.

www.veniceinperil.org

 

 
 
© 2014 The Eco Gypsy - Ethical Exploration.
   


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