Take a gondola ride back in time to the fairy-tale city of Venice, where marble palaces are built on a lagoon in a storybook setting, and stay at a boutique hotel to discover the abundance of pleasures the city has to offer. From the wake-up call of gondoliers to the fuschia-pink sunsets that have inspired authors, poets and dramatists since medieval times, the City of Canals has a long artistic, architectural, and literary tradition. The unbridled romance of Venice, seeping from every corner of its hidden piazzas and narrow alleyways, will leave a lifelong impression long after your vacation is over. A boutique hotel is the best way to explore the magnificent capital of Italy’s Veneto region.
Boutique Hotels in Venice: A Feast for the senses
San Marco: Sight-seeing & Shopaholics paradise
If you’ve always dreamed of walking out of your hotel and right onto the Rialto Bridge, then a boutique hotel in San Marco is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Awash with architectural gems and artistic masterpieces, San Marco is the tourist heart of Venice and home to iconic sights like St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, and the Bridge of Sighs. St Mark’s Basilica is a must-see, not only because it boasts 8,000 square meters of mosaic and is studded – impressively – with 1,300 pearls, 300 emeralds, 300 sapphires, 400 garnets, 100 amethysts, rubies and topazes. Given that its history stretches all the way back to the 9th Century AD, there are countless legends behind the basilica that is on every traveler to Venice’s itinerary. San Marco is also the sestiere in which to shop for designer labels, leather goods and unique souvenirs. The series of streets that make up Le Mercerie, especially, has become synonymous with world-class shopping where you can buy current fashion trends as well as timeless luxury staples from Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Swarovski and Chanel.
San Polo & Santa Croce: Markets, laid-back flair & Mecca for foodies
Though San Polo is in the heart of Venice, with its laidback atmosphere it is also, unexpectedly, the ideal district for those in search of some peace and quiet. The Piazzale Roma and train station are within reach for those who want to escape the city altogether, and stunning beachside destinations in other parts of Italy like Bibione and Portoferraio await. Rialto is the most interesting area in San Polo, and its namesake, the Rialto Market is a gourmand’s paradise that has been whetting appetites for centuries. It’s not only the colorful pyramids of fresh produce that will have your mouth watering, though – thankfully, there is still an authentic local atmosphere to be savored. The majestic gothic Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is the final resting place of Titan, and houses two of his paintings as well as other works of art. Designed by Antioni da Ponte in 1592, the Rialto Bridge connects San Marco to San Polo, and is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. Most of the main sights on the other side of the bridge in Santa Croce are located on the Grand Canal, such as Ca’ Pesaro, the Baroque palace that houses Venice’s Museum of Modern Art, Palazzo Mocenigo, a palace that displays historic costume, and Fontego dei Turchi, which is home to the Natural History Museum. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds strolling through the numerous boutiques, craftwork studios and shops crammed in the narrow alleyways of the neighborhood before finishing the evening off with an aperitif overlooking the Grand Canal.
Dorsoduro: Bustling nightlife & Art lover’s delight
This is the neighbourhood to stay in if you want to experience Venice like a local and savor authentic Venetia dolce vita. Framed by Canale Grande, the Canale della Giudecca and the lagoon, Dorsoduro is home to countless museums including the Gallerie dell’Accademia, historic churches, and numerous art galleries, notably the Peggy Guggenheim Collection that boasts a whole room dedicated to Jackson Pollock. Punta della Dogana exhibits international contemporary artworks, sometimes controversial, in a former customs house. The north-western tip of Dorsoduro also boasts the liveliest nightlife in the alleyways around the large student square. The Gallerie dell’Accademia houses an enormous collection of masterpieces by Venetian artists in over 20 rooms and is a must-see for any art lover. Best of all, compared to the Accademia in Florence, you rarely have to queue or face hordes of tourists to see this treasure trove of Venetian Renaissance art. You don’t always have to go to an art gallery to see amazing Venetian artwork, though. Many of the churches in Dorsoduro are rich with religious artworks by famous Italian painters and sculptors, like the Church of San Sebastiano that houses artwork by Titan, Tintoretto and Sansovina but is most notable for the cycle of paintings by Veronese that he began in 1555. Stop by at one of the abundant bacari (bars) in the neighborhood for a ciccheti (small snack) while you wander through the churches, galleries and museums for hours in this dazzling area of Venice.
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