Discover the waterways of Venice

Stunning palaces, shady piazzas, picture-perfect bridges and winding canals, Venice will leave you completely awestruck. Cosmos expert Clarissa reveals why now is the time visit

By Cosmos
Published 15 Jan 2019, 15:06 GMT

Venice is a destination every bit as seductive as images depict. Plot a course along its canals; perch on shady terraces over a potent Aperol spritz in the shadow of the city's grand dames; mooch around its world-famous palaces and piazzas, and join the decadent masquerade that is the Carnival of Venice. While most people head there during the summer, it's just as enticing in winter, when there's less of a circus at the city's major sites. Ditch the map and mooch around the city's back streets. Perpetually fascinating, Venice is a city that reveals more on every visit.

Clarissa Mascheroni shares her insider knowledge about the world's most romantic city:

So, what makes Venice so special?
There's no doubt Venice is one of the most amazing cities in the world. There are no cars, but hundreds of bridges. It's beautiful and romantic, with peculiar structures and hidden yards — and it's easy to get lost in. People think they know it — even if they haven't been before. But there are so many sides to Venice that you can only discover if you actually visit. The boat rides, although touristy, are so atmospheric. And if you head to the islands of Murano or Burano, you'll find a very different side to the destination — their colourful houses are a complete contrast to the 15th-century palaces of the historic centre.

What does the city mean to you?
Even though I've been many times, it still surprises me. You can always find a different experience, from the lively programme at the Biennale to the fascinating Carnival. Even if you just join the locals for a drink on a terrace, you'll still soak up some of 'la dolce vita' Italy is famous for.

When in Venice, what do visitors absolutely have to do?
It's well known, but don't miss Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). This remarkable masterpiece sits close to the Basilica di San Marco and Museo Correr. Elsewhere there's the unmissable Palazzo dei Dogi — a 15th-century palace and one of the city's major landmarks. And the islands of Burano and Murano are fascinating, from the unique glass art to the exceptional seafood. Also, climb to the top of the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica — from here you'll find some of the best views of the city. And just walking around, you can marvel at the intricate designs on the gondolas, palaces and architecture.

Are there any hidden corners of the city waiting to be discovered?
You can stumble across private courtyards that are very photogenic, but largely unknown. However, for something that's really off the tourist trail, head to the Scala Contarini del Bovolo — a beautiful spiral staircase that overlooks the city, with amazing views of Venice's rooftops and bell towers.

Click here to find out more about this Cosmos tour. 

Milan Cathedral
Photograph by Getty Images

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You could spend a lifetime ticking off Rome's ancient nooks and crannies. Walk around this open-air museum of a city discovering the stories behind the history, and when the crowds get too much, escape to its quieter corners for an aperitivo on sultry terraces before heading to a trattoria for spot-on pappardelle.

It's no secret that art and architecture combine to spectacular effect in this city. It's a cultural nirvana: from stern architectural feats dating from the Renaissance and shopping to wow the style set, to a spectacularly diverse food scene.

Think of Milan as an unending mishmash of contemporary living and leftfield creativity, with a work-hard, play-hard mantra. It's forward-thinking, eclectic and always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing — if you're here for cult fashion stores, trending restaurants and bars everyone's trying to get into, you won't be disappointed.

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