Venice For A Day
Caffe Florian at Piazza San Marco 56-59 is considered to be the oldest cafe in Italy, possibly one of the oldest in Europe. It also happens to be known for its coffee and pastries. Let this be an indulgence. It will likely be a bit expensive, but perhaps the nostalgia of being at the oldest cafe will make it worth it for you. I’ve also read that the coffee and pastries is actually pretty good.
St. Mark's Square
The drawing room of Europe!
St. Mark's Basilica
After taking a selfie pic at St. Mark’s Square or “the drawing room of Europe” as its well-known as, walk into St. Mark’s Basilica, the massive Byzantine style church. In an area filled with Baroque churches, this grand church takes seat right at the square in all its ornamental glory, some of which have been piecemealed together over the centuries by Venetian merchants who had sailed to the Orient and back. Note that modest dress is required (cover those knees and shoulders) and photography is not allowed, nor are large bags and purses.
St. Mark's Campanile
For a bird’s eye view of Venice, the popular way is to hop on an elevator to the top of the St. Mark’s Campanile, right next to St. Mark’s Basilica. From there, you’ll get to see the top of the onion shaped domes of St. Mark’s Basilica. I’ve been told not to go up here on the hour lest you want your ears ringing from the tower bells! However, I suggest holding off until later in the afternoon for a much better panoramic view of Venice from San Giorgio Maggiore.
Once you’ve taken the splendor of St. Mark’s Basilica, walk next door to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), the former residence of the Doge of Venice and the political and judicial hub of Venice. Here, you’ll get to see a magnificent building that acts as a place for governance and a place to hold prisoners.
Bridge of Sighs
aking a tour through the palace, you’ll see the prison cell that Casanova himself escaped from, and eventually walk through what is called the Bridge of Sighs, the iconic white-stoned enclosed connecting bridge from the palace to the prison, referred to the sighs of prisoners as they take their final glimpse of Venice while being led to their cell. As you walk in their footsteps, peek through the window slits on the bridge and see prisoner’s last glimpse!
Cantina do Spade
Cantina do Spade at Calle Do Spade, 860 San Polo. Considered to be one of the island’s original restaurants, it is so old that Casanova used to wine and dine his dates here. Per Traveler, it’s the perfect place to stop in for a spritz and a light snack, such as baccalà mantecato (creamed salt cod) or mozzarella in carrozza (crusted fried mozzarella cheese). Or try a traditional Venetian dish, such as risotto de pesce (seafood risotto), the cuttlefish in black ink sauce with polenta, and the pumpkin ravioli with walnut and cheese sauce.
Stroll across the famous Rialto Bridge towards the Rialto Market at Campo della Pescheria, 30125 San Polo when the the locals buy their produce in the open market where the local farmers showcase their local produce and the fisherman unload their trays of freshly caught fish and seafood. Note that vendors may close up shop by 1pm, the produce market is closed on Sundays and the fish market is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Another place worth stopping over is Alla Ciurma at San Polo 406, an ancient storeroom converted into a tiny bar resembling the inside of a boat, hence the name, The Crew. Working in a miniscule kitchen, owner Marco Paola makes creamy baccalà mantecato (creamy codfish mousse) tuna polpette, or “meatballs”, and courgette flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.
San Giorgio Maggiore
If you already went up St. Mark’s Campanile, then you’ve taken some fantastic aerial views of central Venice. But you probably didn’t capture what I would call the skyline of Venice in all its glory. Here’s where you get another chance at getting those Instagram likes. Take the water bus Linea 2 to the island across from St. Mark’s Square. A great alternative if you did skip St. Mark’s Campanile is the panoramic views of the entire Venice island and skyline, if you can call it that, from the adjoining bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore. Once you see this view, you’re going to wonder why so many people populate St. Mark’s Campanile instead of here. I read that on a clear day, you can see as far as the Alps. But not to be remiss about the church itself, definitely talk a look inside to see Tintoretto’s “Last Supper”.
Venice's Jewish Ghetto
Cannaregio is home to the Il Ghetto, Venice’s Jewish neighborhood. This area was made famous by Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, which featured a Venetian merchant Jew and his family! It is now a historical neighborhood where a small, slowly diminishing Jewish community still resides. An interesting tidbit to take note of here is that Venetian laws forbade the building of separate synagogues, so the synagogues are build on the top floors of the buildings instead. Check out the Holocaust memorials on both sides of the Casa di Riposa building.
While you’re there, peek in Venice’s first kosher restaurant, Gam Gam on Fondamenta di Cannaregio 1122.
Cantina do Moriat at Calle dei Do Mori, 429 San Polo
Cantina do Moriat at Calle dei Do Mori, 429 San Polo On your way to Cannaregio, you may want to take a pit stop at Venice’s original bacaro, Cantina do Mori at Calle dei Do Mori, 429 San Polo. Dating back to the 15th century, and it's been a favorite of Rialto Market workers for years. The dimly-lit bar provides a cozy backdrop where you can sip and nibble on a huge selection of cicchetti. For discerning drinkers, Cantina do Mori also has a well-stocked wine cellar. Arrive early to grab a seat along the bar opposite of the counter.
Osteria Bancogiro at Campo San Giacometto 122
Osteria Bancogiro at Campo San Giacometto 122 Afterwards, head to unsuspecting Osteria Bancogiro at Campo San Giacometto 122, a pretty popular place near the Rialto that is great for mingling and enjoying an aperitivo of dishes served in both modern and traditional cuisine. If you can grab a seat outdoors, you’ll get a great view of the Canal.
If you’re in the mood for seafood, a restaurant popular with the locals, Ostaria Boccadoro at Cannaregio 5405a, Campiello Widmann or Dei Biri offers super-fresh fish served with vegetables the host grows himself on the island of Sant’Erasmo, in the north lagoon (don’t bother looking at the menu, just ask what he recommends). Outdoor seating in the summer, ask to eat outside.