There is a prevalent saying in this unique city on the coast of Italy, that states "See Venice and die." While I would rather not die, I understand the sentiment after just one trip floating up the Grand Canal. A perfect place for romance, art, culture, and great food, Venice is also a destination for lovers of design. Check out our Design Destination Guide for the picturesque city of Venice.
• Take a trip up the Grand Canal in either a Gondola (pictured above) driven by a traditionally-dressed gondolier, or in the much less expensive (with the same beautiful view) Vaporetto #1 or water bus. Have your camera ready!
• Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica): This sprawling basilica was built in the ninth century in order to house the stolen body of St. Mark the evangelist, and is an unbelievable architectural sight.
• Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square): Dance your way through this square, located directly outside of the Basilica di San Marco. Bustling with Venetian locals and tourists, the square offers many opportunities for a true Italian snack. Grab a seat and listen to street musicians, watch the pigeons (but don't feed them, it's illegal) and admire the Basilica's grandeur over espresso.
• Peggy Guggenheim Collection: Arguably one of the most important 20th century collections of artwork in Italy, the Peggy Guggenheim collection is a sight to behold. View Guggenheim's private collection in her former residence, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, located on the Grand Canal. Marvel at works by Picasso, Dali, Pollock and Rothko.
• Gallerie dell'Accademia: This legendary collection of Venetian art is located just a quick walk away from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The museum comprises three old churches, and primarily focuses on artwork created between the 14th and 18th centuries. Advice: join one of the guided tours or get an audio guide. There are English-translation cards of the art synopses, but they are easily lost or carried off by a distracted patron.
• Pauly & C. Glass Factory: Known for its glasswork, Murano has many glasswork factories where one can witness the masters at work. The larger factories (such as the Pauly & C.) offer tours and unique remnants straight from the source.
Shop: • Mercerie: A trio of interconnected streets between the Piazza San Marco and Ponte di Rialto is the shopping "district" of Mercerie. If you've got a pretty penny to spend, you can make your way over to the high-end, designer shops of Cartier, Gucci and Versace. • Cartè, (Calle di Cristi 1731 San Polo): If you're a paper nut, definitely make sure not to miss this gem of Venice. With handbound portfolios in traditional Italian and marbled papers, this shop is a crafter's dream. • Laura Crovato (Calle della Bottegha, San Marco 2995): A second-hand shop for the designer brand lover, Laura Crovato offers high-end labels at low prices.
• Pizzeria Accademia (Rio Terra Foscarini 878): A perfect way to start off your Venetian vacation is the Pizzeria Accademia (pictured above), inexpensive and delicious. Relax by the Grand Canal, eat an authentic Italian pizza and drink 1/2 liter of house wine.
• Centrale Restaurant Lounge: For a more intimate evening, give the Centrale Restaurant Lounge a try. Frequented by celebrities and jet-setters alike, Centrale boasts a chic menu and seductive ambiance.
• Trattoria Alla Rivetta (Ponte San Provolo, Castello 4625): A favorite of locals, this warm and inviting corner restaurant offers perfectly prepared Italian dishes and a happy atmosphere.
• Pensione Accademia: Located directly across from the Accademia museum, the Pensione Accademia is elegant, sophisticated and air-conditioned (a big plus during those hot summer months). With only twenty-seven rooms, this Botticelli-esque hotel is intimate and convenient.
• Ca'Pisani Hotel: A charming boutique hotel, the Ca'Pisani has maintained the original 14th century architecture of the palace it is located in, and its original 1930s and 40s art deco furniture.
• Palazzina G Hotel: A quick stroll from Piazza San Marco is the exquisite, Wonderland-esque Palazzina G Hotel. Offering rooms, experiences and suite apartments, the hotel also features a giant chess set, champagne lounge and library.
Please help us out and add to the guide in the comments - what are your recommendations for Venice?
(Images: all images by Andie Wurster. 1. Piazza San Marco 2. Gondola on the Grand Canal 3. Maurizio Nannucci's "Changing Place, Changing Time, Changing Thoughts, Changing Future" at the Peggy Guggenheim Collections 4. Pizzeria Accademia 5. Hotels off of the Grand Canal)