Venice is a city near and dear to our hearts. We've pulled together our favorite spots (some classics, some a bit more hidden away), but one thing not listed below is our favorite activity: getting lost. Venice is built for wandering around, stumbling upon little cafes, and corners of everyday-life away from the touristy center. Just make sure to bring some comfortable shoes (and yes, we have some footwear recommendations!).
Where To Eat
L'OSTERIA DI SANTA MARINA (Campo Santa Marina, 5911, Castello): Snug in a corner of the charming - and quiet - Campo Santa Marina, this place is an escape from the beaten path! With a menu that has something for everyone, and food that will delight the foodie and non-foodie alike, this is where we like to go for a special evening to while away the evening (and wish we could find its equal in New York, because we'd like to become "regulars").
ANTICHE CARAMPANE (Sestiere San Polo, 1911, 30125): Antiche Carampane might as well be synonymous with "fish." This is traditional at its best (you'll think you're lost before you stumble across it). Make sure to try the fritto misto that are served up in paper cones and in lieu of breadsticks - according to one review it is "so good it's cult." For those of you who prefer the turf in "surf-and-turf" you may want to look elsewhere!
OSTERIA AL PORTEGO (Calle Della Malvasia Castello 6014, 30122): Treat yourself to an array cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee) for a pre-dinner snack or dive in to some of the best pasta for lunch (or dinner). It's a cozy (read tight) squeeze and you'll have to line up and learn to plead/cajole/guilt-trip the bartender to getting you a table. Keep an eye out for the traditional "pasta al nero di seppia" (squid-ink pasta) - it is a favorite!
LA ZUCCA (Santa Croce, 1762): We've tried, but have yet to get into this hot spot - reservations are a must as every guidebook and personal recommendation cannot sing this place's praises highly enough.
CIP'S CLUB (Giudecca, 10, 30133):Now, this is a real treat, but go ahead, "treat yo self," and order a spritz at Cip's Club and soak in the view (above), because there isn't a better seat in the house! If you're feeling like you haven't walked enough yet, wander down to the other end of the Giudecca and soak in the view.
CAFFÈ DEL DOGE (Venezia Rialto, Calle dei Cinque, San Polo, 609): You'll smell the intoxicating aroma of Caffè del Doge's coffee before you'll see the jaunty red corno ducale (dodge's hat) on the sign. Order at the bar or kick your feet up at the little tables outside - either way, you're in for some great people watching..
What To See & Do
CAFFÈ FLORIAN (Piazza San Marco, 57, 30124): Travel back in time to a golden age when you step through the doors of this Venetian institution (it opened in 1720; Casanova was here). Sit daintily while you sip daintily on your coffee (Amanda likes the "caffè con panna" - coffee and whipped cream!). Don't be surprised by the surcharge for the musical entertainment - the musicians are constantly competing with the cafe across the square.
SCUOLA GRANDE DI SAN ROCCO (Campo San Rocco, 3052, 30125 San Polo): Get ready for an epic "crick in your neck," grab an audio guide, and look up at what has been dubbed Tintoretto's "Sistine Chapel." The audio guide is well worth the time, providing not only an amazing amount of information about the art but also a wonderful historical overview of the city.
PALAZZO DUCALE (San Marco, 1, 30124): If you’re ready to be overwhelmed by history and art, look no further. The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is a “must see” while in Venice. Make sure to extend your tour to include the prisons and the famous Bridge of Sighs! You can almost taste the power that once resided here.
GALLERIE DELL'ACCADEMIA (Campo della Carità, 1050, 30123): Feed your soul spending hours wandering among Bellini, Canaletto, Titian, Veronese. Make sure to wear comfy shoes as you’ll find yourself standing (with your jaw on the ground) in front of masterpiece after masterpiece in this museum trying to take it all in.
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION (Dorsoduro, 701-704, 30123): Go for the modern art, stay for the palazzo. One of the most visited attractions in Venice, the Guggenheim collection is a jewel of a museum, situated right on the grand canal. While soaking in the art, make sure to keep an eye out for pictures of how the palazzo looked when Peggy Guggenheim lived there. Just don’t get too jealous.
ARSENALE (Castello, 30122): Get ready to stretch your legs as you head out to explore the Arsenale. The Naval Historical Museum is a great stop to appreciate the naval powerhouse that Venice was in its heyday (in fact, at its height, the Venetian shipbuilders could turn out an entire war ship in just one day!)