Surround yourself in Venetian splendour as you soak up the heady atmosphere of the city’s social and cultural hub.
Think of Venice and the first place that comes to mind will almost certainly be St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). People have been flocking here to eat, drink, talk, worship and trade since the 10th century, and it remains a magnet for locals and visitors alike.
The richly decorated St Mark’s Basilica dominates one side of the square, facing the grand Gothic dome of the Doge’s Palace and the iconic Campanile (bell tower) rising high above the crowds. Climb to the top for wonderful views of ancient Venice spread out before you like an intricately detailed map, or stand in the square below to hear the bronze figures strike the hour on the historic Torre dell’Orologio bells.
Over in the south east corner of the square you will find two columns marking the traditional entrance to the city, topped with statues of St Mark and St Theodore looking out over the Venice Lagoon. The lapping of the water is punctuated by the sound of pigeons attempting to tap unwary tourists for food, but don’t be fooled by their plaintive cooing – these days it’s forbidden to feed them here.
The piazza is a lively open space all year round, although watch out for high tides during the winter months when it sometimes floods. At other times of the year, this is the place to find the café culture alive and well, although prices may be significantly higher in this tourist mecca than in less high-profile parts of the city. Nevertheless, nothing beats relaxing over a cappuccino in the shadow of some of the finest architectural landmarks in the world, or watching the sun set over the Grand Canal with a cool beer in your hand. To the locals, it’s simply El Piazza, and it’s not every day you get to live like a Venetian.