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Enchanting Venice

A destination that’s on many people’s wish lists, Venice is one of the most fascinating and romantic cities in the world. And with direct flights from Liverpool and Manchester, it couldn’t be easier to get there.

On arrival at Venice airport, the best way to start your trip is with a speedboat taxi to whisk you to your hotel in style – many hotels have their own side entrances just for this purpose. Although if you want a cheaper option, the Vaporetto (a water bus) departs from the airport to various stops around Venice but will take a lot longer!

Many of Venice’s 118 islands are connected by bridges which makes getting around on foot surprisingly simple and, although it is very easy and enjoyable to get lost in the winding streets, just look up and on many street corners you will see signs pointing you back to St Mark’s Square – so you are never lost for long!

Venice has an almost endless choice of things to see and do – world class art galleries and exhibitions, palaces, basilicas and museums.

One of the most famous is the Doge’s Palace and you need to allow a good couple of hours to browse this beautiful palace with its dark history: admire the fine paintings, see Casanova’s cell and cross the Bridge of Sighs – a melancholy passage where prisoners were forced to walk from their cells to the court and back.

Loved by visitors and locals alike, the Venice Carnival is a sight to see and the next one takes place from 27th January to 13th February. The middle weekends are the busiest with a blend of entertainment, culture and tradition: the locals take their masks and costumes very seriously and, with tickets to the balls often costing in excess of 500 euros, this is an excellent time for people watching!

Venice is full of iconic bars and restaurants and one of my favourites is the historic Caffe Florian located in St Mark’s Square itself. Opened in 1720, it has views to die for and is the oldest continuously serving café in Venice. Its frescoed interior is opulent and elegant and, as you might expect, coffee here isn’t cheap at around 10 euros for an espresso (plus a cover charge!) – but it’s worth it for the unique atmosphere and experience. And in the summer months you can even listen to an orchestra while you sip!

For a different experience, try the fabulous Oriental Bar located at the front of the beautiful Metropole hotel. Once an orphanage, this is where Vivaldi gave classes and composed some of his most famous pieces. The bar offers more than 30 variations of the famous Venetian Spritz and over a dozen different Martinis – all served with immaculate style and a touch of theatre. The hotel itself is worth a visit: still family owned, this stunning hotel houses the family’s eclectic collections of antiques and objets d’art .

Despite its reputation, Venice does not have to be expensive: walk away from the main Squares and you will find plenty of small traditional restaurants offering local fish and meat dishes at reasonable prices.

I dined at the Osteria alla Biford on Campo Santa Margherita – this is very popular with locals and serves local meat, fish and cheese delicacies.

Many restaurants also offer set menus which are very affordable and, if you fancy an authentic daytime snack, look out for the arancini sold at many shops –  you will often see long queues of locals for the best ones!

Time Difference: + 1 hour

Currency: Euro

Flying Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Top Tips:

·       For a more romantic Gondola ride, stay away from the Grand Canal – which can be very busy.

·       Get lost! It’s the best way of discovering the real Venice.

·       Invest in a Travel card for the public water bus (Vaporetto) 1, 2, 3 day tickets for unlimited travel including the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.

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