Things to Do in Venice - page 3
Approximately 20,000 people call this 11-kilometer stretch of sand stationed off the coast of northern Italy home. But despite the sandbar’s small size, it attracts some pretty major travelers.
The island’s northern tip—the actual Lido—is home to the Film Festival, a couple of stylish hotels, the Venice Casino and a host of delicious restaurants and nightlife spots. Travelers can also find two large public beaches perfect for relaxing under the sun alongside the Adriatic. An impressive golf course welcomes visitors looking to get out on the green towards the island’s south and the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, a wide street at the island’s center, proves a popular destination for shopping, entertainment and uninterrupted ocean views.
An ancient waterway connecting the Italian cities of Padua and Venice, the channel of the Brenta Riviera dates back to the 16th century and was built to flow directly into the lagoon of Venice. The green space lining the canal inspired many wealthy Venetians to build villas along its waterfront, and some still remain open for exploration today. These country homes often served as second residences for Venice’s noble families — far enough away to enjoy a countryside atmosphere but close enough to return quickly to Venice. Not just any second home, many of the Brenta Riviera villas are more like monuments or palaces complete with exquisite works of art and large frescoes. The amount of villas, gardens, and residences lining the canals built up to a point where it was nearly considered an extension of Venice’s Grand Canal. Many of the villas can be visited still today, including the Villa Foscari and the Villa Pisani — which has gardens, an art collection, and a famous maze.
The island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon is famous for its glass-making, but nearby Burano has its own crafty claim to fame - lace-making. The ancient tradition of hand-made lace is not nearly as common as it once was, but you can still see some women in Burano making lace the old-fashioned way, and you can get your lace education at the island’s Museo del Merletto - the Lace Museum.
The Lace Museum on Burano contains more than 200 examples of Venetian lace-making dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The collection is organized in chronological order over two floors, including a section on the Burano Lace School, which existed on the island for nearly 100 years. There are also special exhibits that are on display periodically, so check at the museum ticket desk to find out what extra collections are there when you visit.
Venice may look like it hasn't changed in hundreds of years, but wander behind St. Mark's Square and you'll find evidence to the contrary – the Hard Rock Cafe Venice.
This is the smallest Hard Rock Cafe in Europe, and it's located inside an historic Venetian building. One side of the restaurant overlooks a canal and what is typically a large gathering of gondolas – it's near one of the main pick-up points for visitors who want a gondola ride. It's the place to go in Venice if you're craving classic American food and the only place to get those signature Hard Rock Cafe souvenirs. There's also a “Rock Shop” at the Rialto Bridge, if you just want to go shopping without eating at the restaurant.
A fascinating nod to Venice’s rich classical musical heritage, the small but impressive Music Museum (Museo della Musica) is one of the city’s little-visited gems. Housed in the beautifully restored church of Chiesa di San Maurizio, the museum is devoted to the art of violin making and the preservation of rare and unique musical instruments, dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Visitors can learn more about Venice’s most famous composer, Antonio Vivaldi, through information boards, and gain an insight into the city’s violin-making legacy, but most compelling are the instruments themselves. The collection includes a wide variety of string instruments, including violins, cellos and harps, with highlights including a 19th-century lyre and an exquisite mandolin inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The Scuola of San Giovanni Evangelista is a confraternity of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista. This was an association of lay people dedicated to Christian beliefs and linked with the church. It was originally established in the church of San Aponal in 1261, making it the oldest of the six Great Schools of the former Republic of Venice, but it 1307 it was moved. The Scuola became famous in 1369 when the confraternity's Guardian Grande received the Relic of the Cross as a present. Many artists depicted this relic in paintings at the time.
During the 19th century, the Austrian government threatened to take the Scuola's beautiful marble floor. The Venetians organized to raise enough money to buy the building, saving it from being picked apart. They donated it to the world of art, and today it is an art museum where visitors can view its Hall of Columns, Monumental Staircase, the atrium, a variety of marble, and the works of art that decorate the walls.
On the island of Torcello in the Venetian lagoon sits one of the most important churches in Venice - the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Torcello itself is the site of one of the earliest settlements on the Venetian islands, so it has enormous historical importance. The cathedral itself is one of the oldest structures in Venice.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta dates from the 7th century, although most of what you see today was built in the 9th, 11th, 12th, and 14th centuries. The 11th and 12th century renovations in the Byzantine style include some stunning mosaic pieces on the interior walls in what’s called the Byzantine-Ravennate school. If you’ve visited St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and liked the colorful mosaics there, then you’ll love seeing the mosaics in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta - in the same style, but older.
More Things to Do in Venice
From the outside, the brick Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (the Frari Church) looks rather plain. But step inside and you are surrounded by some of the greatest beauty of the Italian Renaissance. Built for the Fransicans in the 14th and 15th centuries, the design itself is simple - although having the choir stalls in the middle of the church is an unusual feature - but the art that the monks commissioned more than makes up for it.
The most significant painting is Titian's Assumption of 1518 over the altar. It changed painting forever. There are also side chapels full of art, and in the main church, the tombs of significant wealthy Venetians battle for supremacy. Titian himself is buried here in an impressive tomb and the sculptor Antonio Canova has a pyramid-shaped monument!
Along with many, many other uses, Venice's famous Doge's Palace once had a few corridors serving as prisons. The original palace prison earned the nickname “Piombi,” Italian for "lead," because it was in the attics underneath a lead-covered roof.
A lead roof was undoubtedly put in place at least partly with the intention of making the prison impenetrable, and this is what it became known for. The Piombi also had a reputation of being notoriously uncomfortable; it was extremely hot in summer and very cold in winter, making it an even more undesirable place to be incarcerated. Perhaps the most famous resident of the Piombi was Giacomo Casanova, who successfully escaped from the supposedly inescapable prison in 1755.
Things to do near Venice
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