Venice – a city for older offspring

publication date: Nov 28, 2012
author/source: Lucy Daltroff

Grand Canal, Venice

The thrill of arriving at a holiday destination accessible only by boat, really has got the wow factor, that really must impress even the most sophisticated of children.  How amazing to get out of a plane and in less than an hour be cruising down the Grand Canal, lined as it is with such historic and beautifully flamboyant architecture.

There are so many things to see, that its best to arrange an itinerary beforehand, depending on taste. As an example the Galleria dell Accademia has the largest collection of Venetian paintings, while the much smaller Peggy Guggenhim Collection, houses more modern art, including Jackson Pollock,  Picasso, Magritte,  and Mondrian.

San Marco, VeniceOur own starting point was the famous Doge's Palace in San Marco Square, having booked the less well known,  Secret Itineraries tour.  This tour goes behind the scenes of the justice system of the time, with views of the torture room, the prison and even the very cell from which Casanova made his spectacular escape, way back in 1755.  It's creepy, fun and really makes history come alive

One of the most famous bridges in the world, the iconic Rialto, is gorgeous but usually teeming with people. (We decided on a meeting point beforehand in case we got separated.)  Built in 1180, it was the only link between the two banks of the Grand Canal, until the mid 1800s. On the other side is the oldest area of the city known for its markets, including fish and spices. Today, it is also famous for the many cafés and meeting points. 

Eating in Venice is notoriously expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Visit the back street eateries frequented by the locals and prices can be fair. Our discovery while visiting the world's oldest ghetto, in the Jewish quarter, was the famous Gam Gam restaurant, a popular venue, with modern versions of classic Jewish food.

Teenagers may get tired of too much walking and the alternative is the vaporetti (waterbus) it's a great way to get around and enjoy the view. Day tickets are the best value and help to avoid the queues.

On our last night we splashed out and decided to eat at the famous La Colomba,  known for its food –  and culture. The restaurant, which has been around since the 1940s, was a meeting point for artists who sometimes ate beyond their means – and paid with a painting. These, completely cover the walls, like wallpaper and even include a Picasso and Chagall!

It was a fitting ending to an impressive few days in a magic city.

Lucy Daltroff stayed at the luxurious Belle Vue Suites owned by San Marco Hotels and situated in a refurbished palace overlooking St Mark's Square.