Venice and Day Trips Top Attractions

Piazza San Marco

Perhaps nowhere else in the world gathers together so many of man’s noblest artistic creations. The centerpiece of the piazza is the Basilica di San Marco, the most beautiful Byzantine church in the West, with not only its shimmering Byzantine Romanesque facade, but also its jewel-like mosaic-encrusted interior. Right next door is the Venetian Gothic Palazzo Ducale, which was so beloved by the Venetians that when it burnt in the 16th century, they rejected projects by the greatest architects of the Renaissance and had their palace rebuilt come era, dove era—exactly how and where it had been. Across from the Palazzo Ducale is Sansovino’s elegant Biblioteca Marciana, which master architect Palladio deemed “beyond envy.”

Grand Canal

No one ever forgets a first trip down the Grand Canal. The sight of its magnificent palaces, with the light reflected from the canal’s waters shimmering across their facades, is one of any world traveler’s great experiences.

Gallerie dell'Accademia

The greatest museum in northern Italy is a treasure trove of Venetian masters: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Tiepollo, Bellini, Giorgione, and Carpaccio are all represented by some of their finest work. After a visit here, you'll understand why art historians are so enamored of the way Venice's great painters used color.

Ca’ Rezzonico

Designed by Baldassare Longhena in the 17th century, this gigantic palace, the last home of English poet Robert Browning (1812–89), has hosted some of the grandest parties in the city's history, from its 18th-century heyday to balls recreated for Heath Ledger's 2005 Casanova film, and is today home to the especially delightful Museo del Settecento (Museum of Venice in the 1700s).

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

Completed in 1442, this immense Gothic church of russet-color brick—known locally as I Frari—is famous worldwide for its array of spectacular Venetian art: Giovanni Bellini's 1488 triptych Madonna and Child with Saints, a fine sculpture of Saint John the Baptist by Donatello, Titian's Assumption, and many others.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

Although this elegant example of Venetian Renaissance architecture, built between 1517 and 1560 and including the work of at least four architects, is bold and dramatic outside, its contents are even more stunning—a series of more than 60 paintings by Tintoretto.

Torcello

With its ancient mosaics, green spaces, and picnic opportunities, this atmospheric, almost deserted island is one of the most magical place in Venice.

The Villas and Palazzi of Palladio

The great 16th-century architect Palladio created harmoniously beautiful buildings that were influential in spreading the neoclassical style to Northern Europe, England, and, later, America. He did most of his work in and around his native city of Vicenza.

Giotto’s Frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Dante’s contemporary Giotto decorated this chapel with an eloquent and beautiful fresco cycle. Its convincing human dimension helped to change the course of Western art.

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