Piazza San Marco, Venice

36-hours Venice

The beauty of Venice can be the perfect setting for an artist, writer, or philosopher, but really, it has a mesmerizing effect on anybody who visits.  As a Mecca for tourism Venice becomes the stage for how this city, built over centuries and reigning over a powerful empire during the Renaissance retains a charm that seduces everyone.  

Stepping off the train and catching the first glimpses of this city on water the first among many disorienting sights begin to take you on an unusual and memorable journey.

The vaporetto, or water bus is the local's means of transportation. Possibility the perfect way to exclusively take-in the seductive power of the city, later when you've dropped off your luggage, your option will be to walk. 

11:00 If the intensity of all the visitors to Venice gets to you and the preference is a private and unconventional hideaway, try the Ostello Venissa, http://venissa.it/ located on the island of Mazzorbo sister island to Burrano and Murano. It's a ways from the city and a world away from the crowds and while this out-of-the-way place isn't for everybody, it is for those who want to chose when to deal with the crowds. If a centrally-located boutique hotel is more your thing, Hotel Novecento, http://www.novecento.biz/en/ provides great refuge in a bohemian chic that pleases the urban traveler.     

13:00  Trattoria Alla Madonna on Calle Della Madonna is where both locals and visitors dine. Recommended for both lunchtime and dinner, this traditional trattoria with finely dressed and polite wait staff serve the freshest catch. Very close to the Ponte Rialto.

15:30 Walk to San Marco’s Square, the iconic symbol of the city and epicenter of every tourist's visit to Venice. Where the Orient meets the West is a sign of the genius and openness of the city's leaders.  Venice was a city with its eye on trade and exploration. During the Renaissance it thrived as an international and financial hub. Where it appropriated its richness has everything to do with where its merchant class traveled and what they brought back from their journeys. Everyone of us brings back a souvenir from where we were last. 

16:30 Take a vaporetto, or private boat taxi across the Grand Canale to the Punta della Dogana (Dorsoduro tel: 39-041-523-1680; www.palazzograssi.it). The city’s former customs house transformed into a modern art museum containing the sizable art collection of the (LVMH) luxury goods magnate and philanthropist, François Pinault. The interior of the museum following the extensive renovation is stunning. The view from the sidewalk as you look back at San Marco, but also Giudecca across the water is wonderful. Look for Charles Ray’s sculpture “Boy With Frog,” his first outdoor installation.

18:00 Check out the lounge of the Centurian Palace Hotel just a few steps from the Punta della Dogana and relax with a worthwhile seat and a cup of tea. This modern, hip 70’s-style lounge in a former Renaissance palace offers the opportunity to be close to the water and sit back while life chugs on.

19:00 From either the Punta della Dogana, or the Centurian continue to Zattere and the Ice-cream of Nico. You cannot leave Venice without tasting “Gianduiotto” with cream on top. It’s also worthwhile having an aperifit along the Canale delle Giudecca.

20:30 The Arsenale is off-the-beaten path and is located behind Piazza San Marco. Fewer visitors go here, though it's hard to know why. The restaurant Corte Sconta (http://cucinadiviola.blogspot.it/2011/04/corte-sconta-venezia.html) Known for having a more authentic local menu is also considered one of the better local restaurants. 

Venice float

Day 2

10:30 A cappuccino even if you’ve already had a coffee an hour before is an opportunity to do a little tourist and local people watching. Italians break for a coffee once in the morning to break-up the dullness of the day.

11:30 The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is a must for contemporary art lovers. The setting of Ms. Guggenheim’s collection in Dorsoduro is a retreat from the crowds, though the museum does receive its share of visitors. It’s garden and terrace on the water are ideal places for some added privacy.

13:00 The Luna Sentada restaurant in Campo San Severo behind the Hotel Danieli is off the beaten path, though not really.  Ermanno, the owner sees to it you are taken care of and introduced to fusion flavors.

17:00 In addition to the annual International biennale held in Venice from late spring to late fall small art galleries, such as the contemporary Bugno Art Gallery next to the Fenice Theater offers art enthusiasts an alternative to everything else. On a recent visit there, the curator gave us a wonderful introduction to artists we didn't know about, such as Paolo Venturi.

22:00 As Venice is also a university town, students play a big role in giving certain corners a lively atmosphere for anyone looking for the distraction. Find a handful of hangouts in and around the Campo Santa Margherita. The Caffè Rosso (http://www.cafferosso.it/backgroundx.htm) is a classic for night owls. Noisy and small it’s a great place to locals.

Day 3

10:00 A wonderful charm of a museum is the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, known for its garden designed by world famous architect Carlo Scarpa in the 1950’s. http://www.querinistampalia.it/museo/

Another museum not to be missed is the Accademia, a 17-century Ca Rezzonico palace containing some of the most prized collections of Renaissance Art.