Sailing into Venice is like being awake in the mist of some fantastic dream, as the sights and sounds of one of the most fabled and elegant cities in the world unfold like so many theatre curtains.
The analogy is more than a little apt. For Venice is nothing less than living, breathing theatre. As your ship sails past the vast open space of St. Mark's Square, crowds of people watch from the cafes that throng its edges. The strains of a concerto orchestra swell in the breeze and float over the grey, silent water. Flocks of pigeons fattened by a feast of tourist leftovers wheel in the sky and soar past the elegant, tapering spire of the campanile and the soaring basilica of the cathedral.
That splendid seaward approach is a fantastic appetiser to this unique sea city. Implacable Palladian palaces line the waterfront, silent witnesses to centuries of turbulent history. Literally thousands of bridges span the sprawling mass of winding canals that connect the chaotic city streets like strands of a spider's web. Ancient houses and villas stand with layers of paint bleached almost ghost white by centuries of scorching Venetian sun while, out on the canals and waterways, hordes of rapacious gondoliers float by, their crews decked out in the distinctive blue and white striped jerseys and straw boaters. In Venice, the canals literally are the arteries that carry all form of life in and out of the city.
Sights and sensations abound. Try an authentic peach Bellini at Harry's bar, where the cocktail was originally invented.
Sunset is especially magical. Find an outdoor café near the famous Rialto Bridge, where businessmen in suits talk on their mobiles as flotillas of vaparetto boats bumble up and downstream carrying tourists, furniture, and even the odd yapping dog. Savour your teatime cappuccino as the sun sags into the silent waters of the lagoon, and the strings of a local violin trio flood the area with atmospheric music. It seems almost a perfect cue for flocks of pigeons to take to the sky in droves, forming a brief black smear against the last dying rays of daylight.
Treasures such as the Accademia find more contemporary counterparts in the glass factories out on Murano, where world famous, delicate and multi coloured masterpieces throw fresh illumination on another aspect of this amazing city. Red and white striped poles protruding from the water, and the constant coming and going of water taxis, all combine to make a voyage to Venice a uniquely breathtaking experience.
Winter voyages find the amazing Venetian experience shorn of hordes of summer visitors, and often coated with a dusting of light snow that gives the city a truly bewitching aura. Though these winter sailings are rarer, they offer an opportunity to get more ‘up close and personal' with this sagging, spectacular wedding cake of a city.
But make it even better; why not use the opportunity to arrive- or leave- this exalted city aboard the legendary Orient Express? Combine train, city and spectacular cruising to make an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.
If you would like more information on cruises to Venice, please call one of our Cruise Experts on 0800 008 6677.