We are regularly asked for ideas to do on Valentine’s Day and if you’re out to impress here is a really special idea:
How about the romantic city of Venice?
Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world – it’s also one of the most touristy, so how do you avoid feeling ripped off? Here’s our guide to the Venice experiences that are worth splashing out on – and the ones that aren’t
Take a water taxi from the airport, but don’t bother with a gondola
Within minutes of landing at Marco Polo airport we were zipping across the lagoon on a water taxi, with the wind in our hair; 10 minutes later we were on the Grand Canal and slipping beneath the Rialto Bridge before pulling up right at our doorstep.
Don’t eat out all the time – shop at the Rialto market
Staying in a self-catering place gives you the perfect excuse to shop like a local. Just a minute away from Rialto Bridge is the brilliant food market of the same name, in front of the small church of San Giacomo di Rialto (the city’s first church, founded in 421AD). All of Venice comes here to buy its fruit, veg, meat and, most famously, seafood.
La Fenice is not the only opera
Venice’s famous opera house, but I doubt it could be more romantic than Musica a, the operatic equivalent of a secret supper club, which takes place in a fading historic palazzo down a blind alley just off the Grand Canal.
Sights schmights! Head for quieter neighbourhoods
Venice has more than its fair share of world-class churches, squares and museums, and though St Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace et al are obviously worth a gander, for me the labyrinth of medieval alleyways and canals is what makes the city so special.
Avoid the tourist traps and eat like a local at a bacaro
To get a taste of real Venice, and take a break from sightseeing, pop into a bacaro, one of the small bars where locals go for a glass of wine, a quick snack and a chat. In a city bulging with crappy tourist restaurants, bacari, where you can get a small tasty snack for a euro and a decent glass of Veneto wine for two or three, are life savers.
Courtesy of and many thanks to Gavin McOwan at the Guardian
To read the article in full, see The Guardian
Also worth a look at the official Government Site for Venice
Tours that include Venice are rare in February, but we have found this excellent 8 day Italy tour, that includes Venice and also Florence and Rome
The afternoon is entirely at leisure – enjoy Rome at your own pace or check with your Tour Director about additional sightseeing options
Hotel – Romanico Palace SF
Meals Welcome Reception / Buffet Breakfast
Day 3 to Day 4 – Venice and the Magic of La Serenissima
Depart the ‘Eternal City’ and follow the course of the River Tiber north. Drive through the idyllic Tuscan countryside before descending to the fertile Po Valley and the glorious city of Venice beyond, with its quaint bridges, ornate palaces and gondolas
Your prestigious hotel overlooks the city’s most romantic stretch of water. Even for the experienced traveller, there can be no better joy than waking-up in Venice
Appreciate her splendour as you cruise by Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore to St. Mark’s Square. Your Tour Director will explain the glorious history of ‘La Serenissima’, once one of the greatest trading centres of the world – its wealth and power is echoed by the riches of St. Mark’s Basilica
See the Doges’ Palace and its adjoining Bridge of Sighs, then visit one of the glass showrooms for a demonstration of traditional craftsmanship, unchanged for centuries
There is time to explore or browse through the shops on the Rialto Bridge in the afternoon. Don’t miss the chance to try the delicious seafood, freshly caught in the lagoon.
Hotel – Carlton on the Grand Canal SF
Meals Buffet Breakfast / Dinner
Day 5 to Day 6 – Florence, Birthplace of the Renaisance
Bid farewell to the unique islands of Venice this morning and re-join your coach. Follow the river Reno high into the Apennines to the Renaissance city of Florence
On arrival meet with your local guide for a walking tour of the historic centre. Visit the Academy Museum to see Michelangelo’s original ‘Statue of David’. Admire the marble clad Cathedral and Baptistery, where Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’ have been recreated in all their glory
Next stop is Signoria Square filled with Renaissance masterpieces. Finally, learn all the secrets of traditional Florentine leather-work with a demonstration
Tonight, there is a wonderful selection of local restaurants to choose from on your Florentine Dine-Around evening. The following day is entirely yours to do as you please
Everything is easily reached on foot. Traverse the medieval streets to the Ponte Vecchio, haggle for leather goods at the market around San Lorenzo or relax amid the terraces of the Boboli Gardens
Be sure not to miss the magnificent museums and galleries – how often do you get the chance to see some of mostfamous works of art in the world
Perhaps consider an optional excursion into the undulating hills of Tuscany and medieval San Gimignano before sampling some fine Florentine cuisine and Chianti wine?
Hotel – NH Anglo American SF
Meals: Buffet Breakfast / Dine Around
Day 7 – The Powerhouse of the Popes
As you drive through the peaceful landscapes of Tuscany, there is an informative tutorial about the Chianti wines that make this region so famous. Continue along the smooth autostrada back to Rome
Your Intermezzo reaches its crescendo at the Vatican Museums. Wonder at the collection of ancient and Renaissance art gathered by Popes over the ages, then enter the Sistine Chapel, where the Popes are elected
This is where your audio headset comes into its own, providing clear, expert commentary from your local guide. Gaze up now and truly appreciate the significance of Michelangelo’s famous painted ceiling. You last night on tour is a night to remember
Over a sumptuous dinner of Roman cuisine, fill your glasses with local wine, and sing along with the live music, arias and best-loved Italian songs
Hotel – Sheraton Roma SF
Meals Buffet Breakfast / Celebration Dinner
Day 8 – Dpart Rome
Bid farewell to the glories of Italy. Departure transfers arrive at Rome’s Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport at 07:00 & 09:30
Meals Buffet Breakfast
We found this and thanks to them at www.bestvaluetours.co.uk