It is extraordinary that for a city which derives most of its income from tourism, that Venice has been able to retain its magic so successfully. From the moment you step into the sleek, highly polished wooden speed boat at Venice airport, one is transported into an intensely romantic world of eye-watering beauty and cultural infusion. Yes, it is expensive but there is simply nowhere else in the world that comes close. The key however, is not only knowing where to stay, but which room to stay in. Location aside, views in Venice are a critical component and not a decision to get wrong if you value your relationship!
Waking early in the morning is a bore in so many places. In Venice however, it is an unimaginable pleasure. To walk through the Mercato Rialto at dawn, amongst the hustle of the porters wheeling their fruit and vegetables through the narrow side streets is simply magical. There is always a bar open somewhere for a morning macchiato, or if you are feeling Venetian, a small glass of vino rosso. With the senses awarded an early feast, one can head back for a relaxed breakfast before planning the day ahead.
The secret to discovering the city is part planning and part serendipity. Try to cram in too much in too short a time and you risk losing that essential element of simply being able to wander the maze of alleys that criss-cross the myriad of canals. There is a thrill to allowing oneself to get hopelessly lost knowing that it takes little effort to eventually get back on track. The ideal length of time to spend is three days, part of which it is worth having a private guide, probably an art expert who has lived in Venice all their life and who knows every hidden crypt and local craftsman. The Red Savannah criteria for guides is very simple: they must be intelligent, hugely knowledgeable and above all, terrific company.
Eating and drinking in Venice needs a mixture of planning and flexibility. The rule of thumb is eat fish and either to go top end or bottom end – generally (although there are exceptions), the middle of the road restaurants in Venice are disappointing. Occasionally it is fun to indulge in the obvious; a spritz on the balcony of the Gritti Palace and dinner in Harry’s Bar are fairly de rigeur to do once, but beyond the obvious, the right restaurants need to be booked well ahead. Try Venissa on Mazzorbo Island for lunch or the delightful alfresco Lineadombra for a romantic dinner. Bear in mind that lunch doesn’t always need a mortgage and sometimes it is fun to have one of those colourful and utterly delicious Venetian wraps in a simple café.
The choice of hotel needs careful consideration. Apart from the ‘view’ consideration alluded to above, location is also of fundamental importance. The iconic Cipriani aside, it generally doesn’t pay to book the obvious names. Although there are some lovely properties in the S. Marco area, it is worth considering the Dorsoduro and Cannaregio districts – more local and generally much better value for money. Whatever you decide, you need to be mentally prepared to part with a considerable sum for a relatively small room in return. But then the magic of Venice is unlike anywhere else and they key, is to get the right advice and plan well ahead.
If you are interested in visiting Italy contact Red Savannah's travel specialists on +44 (0) 1242 787800.