ROL Cruise recommends...
1. Marvel at the Basilica di San Marco
Dating back to the eleventh century, the spectacular Basilica di San Marco is a wonderful example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Step inside and you can't help but gasp in wonder at the magnificent marble floors and the glittering mosaics that cover the walls and ceilings of this 'Chiesa d’Oro’ (Church of Gold). The square the basilica dominates also features plenty of sights worth seeing, including Doge’s Palace (see tip 4), the iconic Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower) and the Museo Correr (Correr Museum).
2. Celebrate the city’s rich musical heritage
When in Venice, be sure to visit the beautiful Teatro La Fenice. This historically important theatre hosted world premieres of numerous operas throughout the nineteenth century – Rossini’s Tancredi, Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda and Verdi’s La traviata, to name but a few. The great Baroque composer Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice – with its 98-member orchestra, 66-person opera chorus, amazing acoustics and stunning interior, Teatro La Fenice is the best place to catch a performance of his work.
3. Ride in a gondola down The Grand Canal
No visit to Venice would be complete without an enchanting trip along The Grand Canal in a gondola, the flat-bottomed rowing boat that’s become an instantly recognisable symbol of the city. Stretching to 3.8km long, there’s plenty to see along the banks of the Grand Canal – around 170 buildings in fact, including the Palazzi Pesaro, Ca’ d’Oro and the Ca’ Rezzonico.
4. Admire the Doge’s Palace
Once home to the Doge of Venice (the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice), Doge’s Palace is a stunning and ornate example of Gothic architecture featuring grand staircases, gilded ceilings and frescoed walls throughout. Today, the Palace operates as one of the city’s most popular museums. Be sure to cross the famous Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge connects the interrogation rooms in the Palace to the Prigioni Nuove (New Prison). The name ‘Bridge of Sighs’ comes from the idea that convicts would sigh in awe at the beauty of the city as they saw it from the Bridge one last time before imprisonment.
5. Enjoy Venetian cuisine
If you love seafood, Venice is the ideal destination for you. Seafood is the city’s speciality and there are plenty of local dishes worth trying. A tasty traditional Venetian starter is sarde in saor, fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions. To follow, try bigoli, a thick and coarse spaghetti usually seasoned with a fish or game sauce.
For dessert, feast on a real Italian tiramisu – the coffee-flavoured cake is said to have originated from the Veneto region.