From Venice's Marco Polo airport, approach the city by crossing the lagoon on the Alilaguna (www.alilaguna.it) to San Marco, which takes roughly an hour depending on which line you choose. It costs around €30 for the express and €13 for the other routes. From there it’s a quick change to Route 1 of the ACTV (www.actv.it) vaporetto in the direction of Piazzale Roma. Get off at Salute, stroll in front of the church, and Ca Maria Adele will be on your left. Alternatively, Trieste, Verona and Treviso airports are all possibilities. The first two have bus links to their main train stations, and are then a one-hour or three-hour train journey respectively; Treviso has a direct bus (www.atvo.it) link to Piazzale Roma in Venice, from where a 30-minute journey on Route 1 of the vaporetto will take you to Salute.
Venice’s main station is Venezia Santa Lucia; see Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com) for information on Italian trains. To reach the hotel, take the vaporetto down the Grand Canal from Santa Lucia to Salute (roughly 30 minutes on Route 1).
Venice is not made for cars and does not allow them into the city, so if you have driven from another part of Italy or the airport, you will need to leave your vehicle either on the mainland, which is easier, cheaper and avoids the sometimes colossal traffic jams, or at the edge of the city centre. If you park on the mainland in Mestre, you can choose between the rail station (and then proceed by train) or the San Giuliano parking lot (and proceed by boat).
Worth getting out of bed for
Viewpoint Enjoy a 360-degree look across the city from the Campanile di San Marco.
Arts and culture Venice is packed full of churches, museums and galleries. We love the Museum of Modern Art (San Stae waterbus stop). The neighbourhood, Dorsoduro, is arty in the extreme: as well as the Peggy Guggenheim collection (+39 041 240 5411), it’s home to the exhibition spaces of the avant-garde Fondazione Emilio e Annabianco Vedova (+39 041 522 6626) – a ‘floating gallery’, where paintings aren’t hung on the walls, but suspended from the ceiling.
Something for nothing Get a taste of what it feels like to be on a gondola for next to nothing: look for the yellow ‘Traghetto’ signs and follow them to the water. It’s a shuttle gondola service that costs 40c. If you want one to yourself, the average price is €100 an hour.
Shopping You’ll find all the designer labels around San Marco, and especially on Calle Larga 22 Marzo. Boutiques and gift shops line the streets between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto. Don’t buy masks in the tourist area: close to the hotels is Ca’Macana on Calle delle Botteghe, which made the masks for Eyes Wide Shut. For something different, buy a forcole, the wooden oar rest on a gondola; Saverio Pastor’s workshop is on Fondamenta Soranzo in
Dorsoduro (522 5699). For Murano glass, try to get to the island of Murano itself.
And… Visit the town of Asolo, among the cypress-covered Dolomite hills, or the island of Torcello, the site of the original main square. The fish market in Rialto runs Tuesdays to Saturdays. Venice has a beach: you can hire cabanas for the day, but they’re not cheap.
Linea d’Ombra (+39 041 241 1881) on Ponte de l’Umiltà is a great restaurant on the canal, and the perfect plot to head to in summer, thanks to the lovely terrace with views across to the Giudecca, and the chef’s modern take on classic Venetian dishes. Ai Gondolieri (+39 041 528 6396), close to the Guggenheim, is popular with local and visiting carnivores for its meaty Veneto dishes of game and pork, and is famed for its gnocchi and polenta. There’s a decent wine list, too. Waterside on the Zattere, La Piscina is the eatery attached to the historic pensione La Calcina, and makes for breezy terrace dining from a delectably down-to-earth menu (+39 041 520 6466). Cantinone Storico on Fondamenta Bragadin (+39 041 523 9577) is good for seafood, and has an impressive wine cellar. Definitely try to get a seat by the canal in summer or by the window in winter. Ask the waiter to tell you about the specials – and then trust his recommendations.
Across the Grand Canal: For a cosy, wine-bottles-on-the-wall kind of osteria, try Cantina Canaletto (+39 041 521 2661) in Castello. Trattoria alle Testiere on Calle del Mondo Novo (+39 041 522 7220) specialises in fish. At Bancogiro on Campo San Giacometto (+39 041 523 2061), ask for a window seat. Trattoria do Forni on Calle Specchieri (+39 041 523 2148) is very classical; book dinner in the Orient Express room. Ristorante da Fiore on Calle del Scaleter (+39 041721 308) is one of the best restaurants; book a month in advance. Poste Vecie, on Rialto Pescheria (+39 041 721 822), is Venice’s oldest restaurant, reached by a private bridge. Il Refolo is a great pizzeria near the Museum of Modern Art (+39 041524 0016), though not open all year round. Anice Stellato on Fondamenta della Sensa, Cannaregio (+39 041 720 744) does fabulous fish with subtle spicing. Locanda Montin on Fondamenta di Borgo (+39 041 522 7151) serves great antipasti on a vine-covered terrace.
A coffee in Piazza San Marco won’t come cheap, but there’s a reason why the tourists flock there – it’s spectacular; and if you’re lucky you’ll have an orchestral soundtrack. Head to Campo Santa Margherita, where students, bohemian types and families gather to eat. Al Marca on San Polo is good for a pre-dinner drink if you’re north of Ponte Rialto. Peggy Guggenheim Collection Café in the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni is a sophisticated spot for a coffee in the wonderful garden of the museum of modern art. It is elegant and peaceful: no wonder the art lover chose this to be her final resting place.
Sip a bellini on the floating pontoon of Cip’s Club, watching the sun set over the water. (Hotel Cipriani operates a free boat service to and from its private landing stage.) Try Centrale on Piazza San Marco, for good tunes and great cocktails. Taverna da Baffo in Campo Sant’Agostin stays open until 02h.