While in Venice, make sure you have time to see the following:
Basilica San Marco: This is the amazing Byzantine Basilica dominating the Piazza San Marco. Make sure to climb to the Loggia to view the Piazza below. The dome is beautiful with wonderful gold mosaics.
Doge’s Palace or Palazzo Ducale: Official residence of the 120 doges who ruled Venice from 697 to 1797. It has wonderful art and architecture.
Bridge of Sighs: The bridge was built as a passageway between the Palazzo Ducale and the prison.
Piazza San Marco: This is the heart of Venice with the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Torre dell’ Orologio or renaissance clock tower. Stop in Caffe Florian for coffee and dessert. It is Europe’s first coffee house and still has its 1720 wood paneling, marble-topped tables and gilt-framed mirrors. In the summer, I remember several orchestras playing in the evening at the outside cafes.
Grand Canal: Lined with old palaces, the canal is used by gondolas, ferries, water taxis, and public vaporettos or waterbuses. The colorful gondolas are still my favorite! I find you can take the public vaporetto instead of paying for a guided tour. The view of the famous Rialto Bridge is the best from the Grand Canal. Enjoy the palaces lining the waterway which were built over a span of five centuries and showcase the city’s history.
The Gallerie dell’Academia: The most famous museum in Venice with paintings by Titian, Veronese, Bellini, Carpaccio and other Venetian artists.
Walk the streets over the canals and just admire the great architecture. It is fun to get lost in the back streets and alleys. Make sure to visit the Rialto Market as you cross over the Rialto Bridge.
Murano: I took a boat to Murano to visit the glass factories and glass stores. The glass of Carlo Moretti was outstanding. I love the two great pieces I bought in the Murano store. This is a fun side trip for a day.
Burano: Burano is known for its colored homes and building. It is high on my list for my next trip!
Peggy Guggenheim Collection: A wonderful museum of contemporary art of more than 200 artists. I also enjoyed the Nasher Sculpture Garden in the courtyard particularly after having met Ray Nasher at his Sculpture Museum, in Dallas, a few years ago. They have a nice book store and cafe.
Palazzo Grassi: Check to see if they have a current art exhibition. It was a great venue and I saw a wonderful Picasso show there. This is owned by Francois Pinault. He also owns the newly opened Punta della Dogana that was transformed by the famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando to house his personal collection. Some of what I saw at Pallazo Grassi may now be there.
La Fenice: After reading the book The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt about the fire that destroyed this world famous opera house, I did a self-guided walking tour of the world famous opera house that was redone and re-inaugurated in 2003. It was quite beautiful and I would love to see a performance there.
Dorsoduro: This is a great neighborhood which includes the Academia Galleries, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the famous church, the Santa Maria della Salute. The walk along Zattere and the broad waterfront is nice.