Northern Italy is one of the most spectacular places to discover on a cruise. Stunning scenery opens up around every corner and each town and city wears its heart on its sleeve in terms of its historical legacy. The architecture, both ancient and modern, creates a breathtaking urban cityscape, while the everyday buzz of Italian life resonates through every cafe and down every street. |
When on an Italian river cruise in the north you’re destined for a day in Venice, and while the city needs little introduction, if you’re a more discerning traveller who enjoys discovering the lesser-known parts of a place, read on.
The Hidden Delights of Venice
On the best Italian river cruises you’ll be accompanied by a guide who will be able to regale you with the enchanting history and wonderful stories about the city of Venice - but if you want to delve a little deeper, it has much to discover.
Visit the Libreria Acqua Alta This quirky spot is a book-filled world like no other. Books of all shapes and sizes are sold out of gondolas, bathtubs, canoes and barrels. Some of the books are even used to make the staircase! Selling a range of wonderful titles in all languages and covering every imaginable topic, this shop is one you could spend more than a few hours in. It makes for a fabulous photo opportunity as well.
Climb the Scala Contarini del Bovolo
Want the views but not the crowds? Then this spiral staircase is for you. Built as part of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, it is almost hidden from the passing tourists. Located inside a small court only a short stroll from St Mark’s Square, the steps take on a Leaning Tower of Pisa feel as they wind up the 26m to the top, from where you get unique views over the rooftops and beyond.
A welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the main city, this colourful island famous for its lace and fish is definitely worth a visit. Canals lined with candy coloured houses are its main attraction and are among the most photogenic of all Venice’s attractions.
Venture Inside the Bridge of Sighs
A famous bridge this may be, but few actually make their way into its ancient structure. Many pass under it on a romantic gondola ride and many more photograph it in all its glory, but for those who decide to take a look inside, the bridge’s history is brought to life. Given its name because it was the passage through which prisoners passed on their way to execution in St Mark’s Square, it offered their last glimpse of the city through the tiny latticed gaps in the woodwork. It was said that the final views made the prisoners sigh at Venice’s beauty. Today, if you book the Secret Itineraries Tour, you will learn all about the history of this famous landmark.
Visit One of the Narrowest Streets in the World
Calle Varisco is tiny. Only 53cm wide, this street is not for everyone and most need to walk sideways to get through it! Legend has it that if a murderer walks through the street the walls will crush them. It is definitely worth taking a peek, even if just for the fun photo opportunity.
Discovering Venice on an Italian river cruise is most definitely a highlight, and if you head off the beaten track and delve a little deeper you will see a whole other side to this marvellous place. Book with a reputable tour operator and your Italian river cruise will be a holiday you will always remember - guaranteed!
Author Plate Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge holidays. If you're looking for a fantastic Italian river cruise, or cruises to other great destinations, they are the go-to experts. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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