THE GREAT HEART OF VENICE

Where Venice - - News - BY STE­FA­NIA VIDA

A prac­ti­cal gui­de to St. Mark’s Squa­re, de­scri­bed by ma­ny as “the mo­st beau­ti­ful sa­lon in the world”.

St. Mark’s Squa­re is a true jewel of ar­chi­tec­tu­re that astounds vi­si­tors year-round wi­th its ma­gi­cal co­lours, ex­ci­ting even­ts (the tra­di­tio­nal Fea­st of St. Mark is ce­le­bra­ted on 25 April) and nu­me­rous shops and re­stau­ran­ts that are ju­st wai­ting to be di­sco­ve­red!

De­scri­bed by ma­ny as “the mo­st beau­ti­ful sa­lon in the world”, St. Mark’s Squa­re has been the great heart of Venice through the ages, thanks to its hi­sto­ric ca­fés and its at­mo­sphe­re en­li­ve­ned by the mu­sic of its small or­che­stras. So much to see and do! But if you’re pres­sed for ti­me, don’t wor­ry, we ha­ve pre­pa­red a prac­ti­cal gui­de to help you ma­ke the mo­st of your vi­sit, and you can al­so use this gui­de for your next trip to the la­goon. Read on!

SIGHTSEEING FROM ABO­VE

Be­fo­re we be­gin, let’s ma­ke one thing clear. Don’t be alar­med if so­meo­ne uses the term ‘pro­cu­ra­tie’ when gi­ving you di­rec­tions. The Pro­cu­ra­tie are sim­ply the buil­dings sur­roun­ding the th­ree si­des of St. Mark’s Squa­re and they are di­vi­ded in­to the Pro­cu­ra­tie Vec­chie to the nor­th, the Na­po­leo­nic Wing to the we­st and the Pro­cu­ra­tie Nuo­ve to the sou­th. You’ve ju­st ar­ri­ved and can’t wait to see the la­goon? Ex­cel­lent! Head to St. Mark’s Squa­re whe­re you can ascend to the top of the Bell To­wer (using the con­ve­nient ele­va­tor whi­ch is open from 9am to 9pm).

St. Mark's bell to­wer or Cam­pa­ni­le soars 100 me­tres over the squa­re, of­fe­ring a com­man­ding view over the la­goon, a view that you are un­li­ke­ly to find any­whe­re el­se. The bell to­wer was for­mer­ly a lighthou­se used to gui­de sai­lors. It is he­re that Venice’s an­nual Car­ni­val event kicks off wi­th the ‘flight of the an­gel’ when a young girl wea­ring tra­di­tio­nal co­stu­me ‘flies’ from the top of St. Mark’s bell to­wer to a sta­ge on the op­po­si­te si­de of the squa­re, mar­king the be­gin­ning of the ex­tra­va­gan­za wi­th a se­ries of per­for­man­ces and even­ts.

Ano­ther loo­kout point, lo­ca­ted ju­st a few me­tres away, is on the ter­ra­ces of the Ba­si­li­ca of San Mar­co. Ta­king pho­to­gra­phs of the mo­saics in­si­de the Ba­si­li­ca is for­bid­den, but you can ha­ve fun ta­king ‘sel­fies in front wi­th the ex­qui­si­te­ly car­ved bron­ze hor­ses and co­lumns of San Mar­co IN THE SHADE OF THE BELL TO­WER

In the 14th cen­tu­ry, the area sur­roun­ding

St. Mark’s bell to­wer was fil­led wi­th stalls sel­ling han­di­craf­ts and wi­ne. In or­der to avoid the heat, the­se ven­dors would fre­quen­tly mo­ve their ta­bles in­to the shade of the bell to­wer, mea­ning that it was cu­sto­ma­ry to say “An­dè­mo bè­ver al’om­bra” (“let’s go and drink in the shade”).

Over ti­me, in lo­cal dia­lect, this ph­ra­se be­ca­me “An­dè­mo bè­ver un’om­bra”(Let’s go and drink a

shade), whe­re the mea­ning of the term ‘om­bra’ (shade) in­di­ca­ted a glass of wi­ne. This in­vi­ta­tion is still com­mon­ly used to­day by ma­ny Ve­ne­tians when in­vi­ting a friend to share a drink.

and San To­da­ro in the back­ground. If you’re a good pho­to­gra­pher, you’re li­ke­ly to get so­me ama­zing sho­ts! The ter­ra­ces of San Mar­co will al­so ena­ble you to get a clo­se-up of the de­tails of the beau­ti­ful faça­de of the near­by Pa­laz­zo Du­ca­le. In fact, even tho­se of you who are not well-ver­sed in the in­tri­ca­cies of ar­chi­tec­tu­re will be awe­struck by its ela­bo­ra­te de­tails and de­co­ra­tions… we can as­su­re you that it’s real­ly wor­th stan­ding in li­ne to ad­mi­re its over­whel­ming beau­ty!

Par­ti­cu­lar­ly no­tewor­thy is the Sca­la dei Gi­gan­ti at the an­cient Do­ge’s pa­la­ce, na­med for the two enor­mous sta­tues po­si­tio­ned on ei­ther si­de of it. Don’t miss the Sca­la d'Oro, la­vi­shly de­co­ra­ted wi­th fre­scoes and gol­den stuc­coes. Be­fo­re de­scen­ding from its ter­ra­ces, turn around and head in the op­po­si­te di­rec­tion of Pa­laz­zo Du­ca­le un­til you co­me to the Clock To­wer. Two lar­ge bron­ze fi­gu­res kno­wn as ‘Moors’ stand on its roof. The­se fi­gu­res are dri­ven by a me­cha­ni­sm al­lo­wing them to pi­vot and stri­ke the lar­ge bron­ze bell si­tua­ted bet­ween them wi­th a ham­mer to mark the hour. The Bi­blio­te­ca Na­zio­na­le Mar­cia­na (Piaz­zet­ta S. Mar­co 7) com­ple­tes the trea­su­res of St. Mark’s Squa­re. This is one of the lar­ge­st li­bra­ries in Ita­ly, and the mo­st im­por­tant in Venice. It ori­gi­na­ted when the Ita­lian scho­lar and poet Fran­ce­sco Pe­trar­ca be­quea­thed his books to the Re­pu­blic in 1362. Ano­ther ab­so­lu­te ‘mu­st’ is a vi­sit to the Mu­seo Cor­rer (whi­ch or­ga­ni­zes a num­ber of tours de­di­ca­ted to the Art and History of Venice), and the Mu­seo Ar­cheo­lo­gi­co Na­zio­na­le (whi­ch shares its en­tran­ce wi­th the Cor­rer Mu­seum, Na­po­leo­nic Wing). Plea­se no­te: if you ha­ve ti­me to vi­sit all the museums in St. Mark’s Squa­re, you can pur­cha­se a sin­gle tic­ket that is va­lid for the Do­ge’s Pa­la­ce and the com­bi­ned iti­ne­ra­ry of the Mu­seo Cor­rer, the Mu­seo Ar­cheo­lo­gi­co Na­zio­na­le and the Mo­nu­men­tal Rooms of the Mar­cia­na Na­tio­nal Li­bra­ry. Tic­ke­ts co­st €19 and can be pur­cha­sed on­li­ne at cor­rer.vi­sit­mu­ve.it.

Fi­nal­ly, whil­st in the area, don’t miss a vi­sit to one of Venice smal­le­st yet ut­ter­ly de­lec­ta­ble trea­su­res, the Ne­go­zio Oli­vet­ti. This gem of ar­chi­tec­tu­re is lo­ca­ted ju­st a short di­stan­ce from the en­tran­ce to the Cor­rer Mu­seum.

Ita­lian en­tre­pre­neur Adria­no Oli­vet­ti, who­se dream was to crea­te a mo­dern sho­w­room to sho­w­ca­se the fa­mous Ivrea-ba­sed com­pa­ny’s ty­pew­ri­ters and cal­cu­la­tors, com­mis­sio­ned ar­chi­tect Car­lo Scar­pa to de­si­gn the buil­ding in 1957. To­day, the mu­seum/sto­re, whi­ch is pro­tec­ted by FAI (the Ita­lian Na­tio­nal Tru­st), has been re­struc­tu­red and re­sto­red to its ori­gi­nal splen­dour sho­w­ca­sing its pre­cious col­lec­tion of vin­ta­ge ty­pew­ri­ters and cal­cu­la­tors (www. ne­go­zio­li­vet­ti.it).

SHOP­PING IN STY­LE

If ti­me is not a fac­tor, you can ta­ke a lei­su­re­ly stroll amid­st the ci­ty’s nu­me­rous ‘cal­li’, in search of Venice’s mo­st pic­tu­re­sque ar­ti­sa­nal ‘bot­te­ghe’. Ho­we­ver, if you’re pres­sed for ti­me and don’t want to miss out on the be­st that the ci­ty has to of­fer, then the­se are our choi­ces of go-to ad­dres­ses: Cal­le Val­la­res­so, Cal­le XXII Mar­zo, Cal­le Frez­ze­ria and, na­tu­ral­ly, the ar­ca­des of St. Mark’s Squa­re. The­se pla­ces are ho­me to the top lu­xu­ry brands of Ita­lian and in­ter­na­tio­nal fa­shion, in­clu­ding Cha­nel, Pra­da, Her­mès, Sal­va­to­re Fer­ra­ga­mo, Guc­ci, Mi­chael Kors, Ver­sa­ce, Gior­gio Ar­ma­ni… and al­so the world’s mo­st co­ve­ted jewel­ry and wat­ch brands, in­clu­ding Da­mia­ni, Roc­ca 1794, Tif­fa­ny & Co., Sal­va­do­ri, Po­mel­la­to and IWC Schaf­f­hau­sen (to men­tion a few). Whi­le in the area, you can vi­sit se­ve­ral tra­di­tio­nal Ve­ne­tian bou­ti­ques su­ch as the An­to­nia Saut­ter Ate­lier, a ma­gi­cal pla­ce fil­led wi­th all ty­pes of ex­qui­si­te ma­sks and co­stu­mes, whi­ch are in great de­mand, espe­cial­ly at Car­ni­val ti­me (www. an­to­nia­saut­ter.it), and the Bu­gno Art Gal­le­ry in Cam­po San Fan­tin (www.bu­gnoart­gal­le­ry). Al­so wor­thy of no­te are the su­bli­me glass art of Ve­ni­ni (ve­ni­ni.com), ly­ing next to the Ba­si­li­ca of San Mar­co, and the ex­qui­si­te per­fu­me­ry of

The Mer­chant of Venice. Al­thou­gh the lat­ter has se­ve­ral bou­ti­ques, the one nea­re­st St. Mark’s Squa­re is lo­ca­ted in Cam­po San Fan­tin, ju­st steps from the La Fenice ope­ra hou­se (www.the­mer­chan­to­f­ve­ni­ce.com). If you’re not too ti­red af­ter all your shop­ping, head to the Mer­ce­rie, a trio of ti­ny, in­ter­con­nec­ting stree­ts bet­ween St. Mark’s Squa­re and the Rial­to brid­ge. The­se nar­row pas­sa­geways we­re on­ce the cen­tre of day-to-day tra­de in Venice, and they still teem wi­th ven­dors sel­ling their wares - jewel­ry, ma­sks, co­stu­mes and sou­ve­nirs. A real shop­ping mec­ca whe­re you can find al­mo­st any­thing your heart de­si­res!

DINING AROUND THE SQUA­RE

Th­ree of Venice’s mo­st hi­sto­ric and fa­mous ca­fés, in­clu­ding Flo­rian, Qua­dri and La­ve­na, hold pla­ce of pri­de in St. Mark’s Squa­re. Over the cen­tu­ries, wri­ters, poe­ts, mu­si­cians and fa­mous peo­ple from all over the world ha­ve pa­tro­ni­zed the­se ca­fés and, even to­day, they are mu­st-vi­sit sto­po­vers for tho­se wi­shing to ta­ke a trip back in ti­me. Du­ring the war­mer mon­ths, you can sa­vour the ex­pe­rien­ce, whi­le re­la­xing on their tra­di­tio­nal out­door chairs

(the chairs of ea­ch ca­fé are a dif­fe­rent co­lour) sip­ping a tra­di­tio­nal ‘Spri­tz’. The at­mo­sphe­re is fur­ther en­han­ced by the soo­thing mu­sic ema­na­ting from the small or­che­stras that are al­ways pre­sent.

For con­nois­seurs wi­shing to ex­pe­rien­ce all the au­then­ti­ci­ty of Venice’s fa­mous cui­si­ne, we sug­ge­st se­ve­ral ve­nues whe­re you can sam­ple ge­nui­ne flavours. Our pick in­clu­des the An­ti­co ALL IN ONE

Left to right: the an­cient mo­saics of the Ba­si­li­ca of San Mar­co, the de­tails of the Clock To­wer (be­low), an ama­zing feat of en­gi­nee­ring, the ti­me­less history of the Ne­go­zio Oli­vet­ti. Bot­tom, the splen­did Pro­cu­ra­tie wi­th its shops, museums and ty­pi­cal re­stau­ran­ts: a mul­ti­tu­de of emo­tions en­cap­su­la­ted in ju­st one squa­re!

A MIX­TU­RE OF MA­GI­CAL ATMOSPHERES AND TRA­DI­TION You can­not lea­ve Venice wi­thout in­dul­ging in at lea­st one of its ty­pi­cal tra­di­tions. Ab­so­lu­te ‘musts’ in­clu­de sit­ting at the out­door ta­bles of its hi­sto­ric ca­fés in St. Mark’s Squa­re whi­le li­ste­ning to the soo­thing mu­sic played by its or­che­stras, ta­king a ro­man­tic gon­do­la ri­de on its ca­nals or en­joy­ing a con­cert at Tea­tro La Fenice, one of the ci­ty’s mo­st ico­nic land­marks (top right). Mar­ti­ni, si­tua­ted next to Tea­tro La Fenice (www. an­ti­co­mar­ti­ni.it). Ju­st a lit­tle fur­ther on, ano­ther ex­cel­lent and pic­tu­re­sque lo­ca­tion is Vino Vino, a ta­vern and wi­ne bar sin­ce 1720 (Pon­te del­le Ve­ste, 2007/a). A mo­re con­tem­po­ra­ry set­ting, ser­ving tra­di­tio­nal Ve­ne­tian fa­re, can be found at the Oste­ria San Mar­co (oste­ria­san­mar­co.it) whi­le, ju­st a short di­stan­ce away, near Cal­le dei Fab­bri, you can sam­ple the flavours of by­go­ne days at the un­de­nia­bly ro­man­tic Bi­strot de Ve­ni­se (www.bi­strot­de­ve­ni­se.com). If, ho­we­ver, you’re in search of a mo­re in­ter­na­tio­nal, ‘ed­gy’ ve­nue, then the Hard Rock Ca­fé (Ba­ci­no Or­seo­lo 1192 - www.har­drock.com/ca­fes/venice) is your go-to ad­dress. Fi­nal­ly, Ve­ne­tian land­mark Har­ry’s Bar, de­ser­ves a spe­cial men­tion (www. har­ry­sbar­ve­ne­zia.com). The fa­vou­ri­te haunt of the jet set sin­ce it fir­st ope­ned, Har­ry’s

Bar con­ti­nues to be ‘the’ de­sti­na­tion for VIP wat­ching, and it goes wi­thout say­ing that the be­st cock­tail to or­der is a Bel­li­ni, a cock­tail ma­de from a mix­tu­re of pro­sec­co and whi­te pea­ches.

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT & MO­RE

Lo­ca­ted ju­st steps from St. Mark’s Squa­re, it is im­pe­ra­ti­ve to vi­sit the fa­mous Tea­tro La Fenice whi­ch, li­ke the bird af­ter whi­ch it is na­med, ro­se twi­ce from the ashes. The thea­ter is ge­ne­ral­ly open dai­ly for tours from 9.30am to 6pm, al­thou­gh va­ria­tions in the sche­du­le may oc­cur due to ar­ti­stic or tech­ni­cal rea­sons. Nu­me­rous pro­duc­tions are sta­ged th­rou­ghout the year. Up­co­ming even­ts in­clu­de a con­cert by Jef­frey Ta­te (7 and 9 April), Lu­cia di Lam­mer­moor by Gae­ta­no Do­ni­zet­ti (from 21 April to 2 May) and Leo­ni­das Ka­va­kos (24 April, www.fest­fe­ni­ce.com). For tho­se who pre­fer so­me­thing tren­dier, we re­com­mend a spe­cial tour kno­wn as the ‘Ba­ca­ro Tour’.

This ‘Ve­ne­tian pub cra­wl’ ta­kes you on an ex­pe­di­tion of se­ve­ral lo­ca­tions whe­re you can sam­ple a se­lec­tion of ta­sty Ve­ne­tian ‘cic­chet­ti’ ma­de from fi­sh, meat or ve­ge­ta­bles, ac­com­pa­nied by a glass of wi­ne or a Spri­tz. Other­wi­se, an ex­cel­lent ad­dress is Cam­po Ss. Fi­lip­po e Gia­co­mo, whe­re you can choo­se from among an ar­ray of ve­nues that will not di­sap­point! For the mo­re ro­man­tic, an ab­so­lu­te mu­st is a gon­do­la ri­de along the near­by ca­nals.

But tho­se in search of so­me­thing a lit­tle mo­re da­ring should opt for a he­li­cop­ter tour of the la­goon: He­liar Venice of­fers dif­fe­rent tours ca­te­ring to dif­fe­rent ta­stes (www.he­liair­ve­ni­ce.it). Ta­ke your pick!

© svi­da_W­he­reI­ta­lia

TEA­TRO LA FENICE. PHO­TO: © MI­CHE­LE CROSERA

Newspapers in Italian

Newspapers from Italy

© PressReader. All rights reserved.