Venice - In a class of its own
A romantic break or cultural tour of Venice is on most people’s ‘must do’ list. In fact the famed watery city has been drawing fascinated visitors for centuries, and never fails to live up to expectations. The architecture, art, history and sense of stepping back in time delights millions of visitors every year. Venice is busy virtually all the way through the year, with mid-March to mid-November classified as ‘high season’. For some, the winter months can be luxuriously quiet, but be prepared for low temperatures and mists. The nearest airport is Marco Polo, 7 km north of Venice, while Treviso Airport is 20 km further inland.
Gondolas, canals and beautiful buildings
While in Venice enjoy ambling along the historic canals, crossing over pretty footbridges, and perhaps enjoying the ultimate romantic trip on a gondola. World-famous landmarks of this slowing sinking city include the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, the old commercial centre known as the Rialto and the awe-inspiring St Mark’s Square.
On ‘Piazza San Marco’ is the Basilica di San Marco, one of Europe’s most remarkable cathedrals, filled with marbles, mosaics and Eastern art gathered over the years by wealthy merchants. Venice is built on more than a hundred tiny islets within a lagoon protected by the long island of Venice Lido. The settlement grew up under the control of the Byzantine hierarchy of Ravenna in the sixth century, and in 726 broke away from that empire with the appointment of its own provincial government or ‘doge’. By the 11th century Venice controlled important trade networks across the Adriatic, and a proud republic known as la Serenissima was established.
A haven for art fans
Visitors with time to spend can enjoy the countless galleries, museums, and churches Venice has to offer. Don’t miss the Accademia, which houses the finest of the many art collections. Here you will find works by Piero della Francesca, Veronese, Tintoretto, Titian, and Canaletto. A great way to travel around is by waterbuses (Vaporetto) which run along the main canal routes.
Weather and when to visit
Venice is situated in the north-east of Italy on the Adriatic coast. With so much to see and do this is a popular destination throughout the year despite the fact that it can be cold in winter and some may find summer uncomfortably hot and humid. Winter is the quietest season, although Christmas and the New Year are popular and crowds flock in for the Carnevale in February. Many guides recommend visiting from May to early June or September to mid-October but really Venice is a magical destination at any time.
Hot sunny summers, pleasant springs and autumns
Late spring temperatures of over 20°C make it a pleasant time to visit the city with none of the humidity and intense heat of the high summer. The average highs in July and August are 27°C but it can reach into the 30’s, which with the summer crowds can make sight-seeing a little tiring. On the plus side, summer visitors can expect 8-10 hours of sunshine daily. November is the wettest month but rain falls here throughout the year. In summer this may be afternoon thunderstorms while in winter it’s often more persistent rain or even snow blowing in from the Alps.
Blue sky or mist, it adds to the magic
Venice is a truly spectacular destination and the weather often adds to the spectacle. A clear blue sky in spring or autumn is wonderful but then a swirling winter mist can be incredibly romantic. Even the frequent fogs add a cloak of mystery. A crisp, cold winter’s day with a layer of snow is something special indeed, and the heat of summer makes a gelato all the more enjoyable. One thing it’s harder to prepare for, except by packing wellingtons, is the acqua alta, or high tide, which can cause flooding and is most likely during November and December. This can cause problems but usually only lasts a few hours. Bring the right clothes and Venice, with so much to see inside and out, will not disappoint.