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Venice is a city with an immense heritage of art and culture. It is impossible to mention all the attractions and monuments. This brief guide is hardly exhaustive, but we will try to list the main points of interest to help you create your itinerary.
If you decide to go to Venice by steamboat, along the route that will take you directly to Piazza San Marco, you will be able to admire the long stretch of stunning architecture overlooking Grand Canal. Once you get to Piazza San Marco, a stage-piece where the whole of Europe meets, you find elegant, historic cafès and street performers. Here you can visit St. Mark's Basilica, an example of Veneto-Byzantine architecture – with the essential climb to the top of the Campanile (bell tower) to enjoy a breathtaking view – and the Palazzo Ducale, the historical Palace of the Doges, housing numerous works of art.
Before moving on with your tour, we recommend waiting for the toll of the Clock tower. On a terrace at the top of the Tower are two bronze statues (the Moors), who ring the large bell on the hour.
From the clock Tower, continue along the Mercerie, the three main shopping streets, to get to the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge in Venice. It dates back to 1181, but initially it was a pontoon bridge, then, as the Rialto market grew in importance, it was replaced by a wooden bridge, before today’s stone bridge was built in the 16th century.
Past the Rialto Bridge, there are two other bridges worthy of note: Ponte delle Guglie, located in the Cannaregio district, the only one adorned with spires (guglie) located at the base of the handrails, and the Bridge of Sighs, visible only from a gondola or from the Canonica Bridge and Ponte della Paglia. This small, Baroque bridge was built in 1600 at the order of Doge Marino Grimani to connect the Palazzo Ducale with the prisons, to act as a passageway for prisoners. Legend has it, in fact, that the bridge derives its name from the prisoners' sighs before they were locked up.
The bridges, however, are not the only architectural structures of interest. A visit to the historic palazzos should, in fact, be an absolute must during your trip to Venice. These include Ca’ D’Oro, in the Cannaregio district, seat of a museum; Palazzo Grassi overlooking the Grand Canal and the venue for many prestigious exhibitions, and Palazzo Franchetti, the seat of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti. For those who are interested, you can still stay in some of these residences, like the Schiavoni Palace.