Venice is famous for its scenic canals with intricate bridges, signature gondolas, impressive architecture, and bustling Carnival every winter.
Venice is an important city located in northern Italy. Despite its smaller size, it is significant for being situated on the Adriatic Sea and comprising 117 islands. Known as the City of Canals, Venice was built on the water to protect against invaders and also fight infectious diseases.
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What Is Venice Famous For?
Venice is known for mainly its cascading canals and bridges. There are 150 canals and over double the number of bridges, where you can go on the once-in-a-lifetime gondola rides and explore the striking city. In addition, Venice is famous for its scrumptious food such as traditional seafood dishes, and being a prominent coffee port.
History, Culture, And Traditions Venice Is Known For
The historical regatta is an event held annually, on the first Sunday of every September. It is a re-enactment that takes place on the famous canals, whereby four races take place. Originally the races began as early as the 13th century and the tradition has been upheld since.
The day begins with a parade, and subsequently, gondola boats are taken on the Grand Canal, starting from San Marco Basin and through the Rialto Bridge. An interesting fact about Venice is that only four bridges cross the Grand Canal, despite its monumental size.
One of the main purposes of the regatta is to demonstrate resilience and integrity based on Caterina Cornaro, a monarch of Cyprus who abdicated her position on the throne for Venice.
The Venice Carnival is a long parade lasting over a week, ending on Shrove Tuesday.
It began in 1162 to celebrate victory against Aquileia and was made official two centuries after this. In 1797, the festival was abolished when Napoleon invaded Venice, as it was feared they would scheme against his rule. It resumed centuries later.
People dress up as 18th-century royalty, wear elaborate white masks called larvae, and watch the performances. Venice is famous for its parade activities such as jugglers, musicals, and street foods such as frittelle.
If you plan to visit during the Carnival, be sure to book everything early in advance as it is a peak period with visitors coming from all around. Prices also tend to be higher then.
Even if you miss out on the Carnival season, you can still indulge in a core part of this Venice tradition with a Carnival Mask making workshop! It’s fun, experiential, and you get a nice self made souvenir to take home after.
Vogalonga is held at Pentecost every year. It is a 30km boat race, which directly translates from Latin to ‘long race’, due to its winding long course. It starts early in the morning from St. Mark’s Basin and ends at Punta Della Dogana.
The Vogalonga is for amateur racers and is not a competition. Alternatively, it is a fun race that started as a celebration of the traditions of Venice. In addition, it helps to reinforce the point of using wooden boats instead of motor boats, which contributes to rock erosion.
Feast of Ascension Sensa
Otherwise known as Sensa, the Feast of Ascension is a huge celebration that Venice is famous for. It symbolizes the union or ‘marriage’ between the man and the sea, helping to strengthen the relationship between the two.
At the end of the rowing race when the mayor’s boat reaches the Church of San Nicolo, a ring is thrown into the water to signify this. You can watch the event, and enjoy a traditional meal afterward. Popular Italian dishes include rice and peas, spaghetti, and antipasti.
Another thing Venice is known for throughout the centuries is trading. It is recognized as a rich city, not only for its arts but for its economy too.
Because of its strategic location on the north of the Adriatic Sea, Venice has always been a maritime center. It was able to transport spices, silks, and feathers from Asian countries and bring them to Europe, which massively boosted the state of the city. This trade even influenced Shakespeare in his beloved play, The Merchant of Venice.
Districts And Areas Venice Is Famous For
San Marco is one of the liveliest districts in all of Venice. This is likely because it is the mother of all iconic landmarks in Venice, and has an attraction for everyone. Whether you are looking for a culturally significant building like Doge’s Palace or prefer religious sites such as St. Mark’s Basilica, you will not be left underwhelmed.
In addition, there are many swanky stores displaying chic Venice fashion, and plenty of eateries to enjoy the view at whilst sampling traditional foods.
Castello covers a large area of Venice and therefore is significant for many reasons. It’s certainly an area that you will pass by as it features many of the popular things to do in Venice.
One of the main attractions in Castello is the Venetian Arsenal. This is a historical shipyard that helped to make the city more powerful by manufacturing maritime vessels. It is so significant and large that it covers one-tenth of Castello’s total area!
Another attraction you should consider visiting is The Venice Giardini, a mesmerizing park enclosed by soaring trees and stunning flowers. Additionally, this is where the Biennale Art Festival is held.
San Polo may be the smallest of the six districts of Venice, however, it is by far one of the most interesting. It is mainly home to religious Italian landmarks in Venice, such as the Basilica dei Frari.
There are also many quaint churches here that are hidden gems. So if you want to avoid the huge crowds in the main highlights, this area can offer something different.
The Ca’ Pesaro is another famous attraction in San Polo. It is an art museum that features genius works by Gustav Klimt, Medardo Rosso, and Auguste Rodin.
Dorsoduro is a sociable district that brings in young, dynamic crowds. It is known for its bars and restaurants that serve affordable, high-quality foods and drinks. There are also markets, thrift stores, and quaint local cafes.
In Dorsoduro, you will find the Galleria dell’Accademia on the Grand Canal. It is home to an impressive array of Venetian masterpieces by Bellini and more. Similarly, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a popular museum with more recent pieces.
The Santa Crose Church and Monastery, which was destroyed in the early 19th century, is what gave the Santa Crose district its name. Nowadays, the most famous religious landmark is the Church of San Simeon Piccolo, opposite the Santa Lucia Train station.
If you are searching for a quieter area of Venice, Santa Crose is the ideal destination. Whilst there are less busy landmarks in Venice, it is a chance to reconnect with nature. For example, the huge Papadopoli Gardens or breathtaking Ponte degli Scalzi Bridge over the Grand Canal are sure to take your breath away.
Landmarks And Architecture Venice Is Famous For
Doge’s Palace is found in San Marco Piazza. It was constructed in 1340 in a Gothic style on the Grand Canal and faces the lagoon. It is therefore a key element in many paintings that Venice is famous for.
As the structure has been altered at various times throughout the years, there are Neo-Byazantine and Renaissance foundations. It is one of the most prominent palaces in Italy.
The palace is a seat of government but is also made of three parts: a residence, a justice palace, and a communal palace. They all face different sides of the square. Being an incredibly popular attraction, it is highly recommended to get your tickets in advance to save a bunch of time.
St Mark’s Basilica
St Mark’s Basilica can be found in Saint Marks Square. It is free but also consists of a museum which has an entrance fee. There are several significant pieces such as the quadriga of St. Mark’s, wood paintings, and ancient mosaics.
The cathedral is the largest Church in Venice. There are five towering domes, marble columns of distinct varying colors, and old mosaics. Its bell tower is the tallest building in Venice.
Take time to really observe the impressive yet intricate architecture and design. The Doge Palace & St Mark’s Basilica tour is a very popular option as it gives you deeper insights into two of the marquee highlights in Venice.
Of the four bridges on the Grand Canal, the oldest is the Rialto Bridge initially built in 1173. It connects two districts, San Marco and San Polo.
Over the years, Venice is known for having the Rialto Bridge fall several times. Originally, it was not built efficiently and could not withstand the number of people crossing it or watching the canal. This is because it was built of stone.
As a result, it was reconstructed time and time again. Eventually, it was replaced by a stone material. On the bridge, you can shop in the markets, scout for different sightseeing tours, or simply take a stroll to explore.
The Rialto Market is a great place to grab some local Italian fares and produce, as well as observe the local hustle.
And of course, you can also take a Gondola ride to see the bridge from the waters. It’s both scenic and romantic way to enjoy Venice.
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is a connection between the New Prison and Doge’s Palace. Legend states that it is so named after the prisoner’s sighs heard from the blocks, as they gazed longingly outside.
The unique bridge is enclosed. It is covered by pure white limestone, stone bars, and delicate windows above the canal. You can easily identify it from the distinctive appearance.
Here is a romantic folklore and fact about Italy – locals say that kissing under this bridge on a gondola at sunset will make your love last an eternity!
Teatro La Fenice
The Teatro La Fenice is an opera house that was originally built in 1792 after the San Benedetto was burnt and destroyed. Decades later the theatre was burnt down twice more until its existing structure today was built.
Several composers such as Rossini and Bellini have had productions at the theatre. In addition, every year there is a Venice New Year Concert, celebrating both the new year and also to commemorate the third reconstruction of the theatre in January 1996.
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco is known as the main public square and has many of the best things to do in Venice. It houses both the St Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, and that’s not all; there are many more significant landmarks and activities surrounding the square. A ferry from here can take you to Venice Lido, one of the prettiest beaches in Venice.
The Clock Tower, for example, is a picture-perfect Renaissance structure. On it, you can find the time, the current moon phase, and the sign of the zodiac.
If you enjoy cultural attractions, you may want to visit the National Archaeological Museum. There are several pieces from different periods around the world.
Food Venice Is Known For
Italian cuisine is world famous, and you will find that Venice has its own local specialties that contribute to that reputation. One of the best ways to uncover these delicious dishes and restaurants on offer is through the fun food tours in Venice!
Baccalà Mantecato is a popular appetizer and the first food people think of when wondering what is Venice famous for. It is offered in the majority of restaurants as a light starter course.
It consists of a salty dried cod which can be found in abundance on the nearby shores. This is mixed with extra virgin olive oil and traditionally ground in a pestle and mortar until fluffy. Finally, the paste can be spread on bruschetta or served with warm polenta.
Sarde In Saor
Much of Venice’s food is seafood dishes; therefore another staple is sarde in saor. Served alone as an appetizer, or combined with deli meats in antipasti, this classic is found in all good local restaurants.
It is made by deep frying sardines which are then marinated in a sweet vinegar concoction to give them a salty yet tangy taste. When served they are usually garnished with fried sweet onions and pine nuts to create a crunchy texture.
Spaghetti With Squid Ink
One of the most unique Venice foods is undoubtedly spaghetti with squid ink. It can appear off-putting at first thanks to the distinct black dye, but the fishy flavors combined with the fresh pasta are unmatched.
The pasta dish is made with white wine and seasoned with chili flakes and garlic. Altogether this creates a perfectly seasoned meal that you must try out.
If you prefer something lighter, Venetians have altered the recipe to switch out the pasta with tender cuttlefish.
Fritto misto is directly translated to a fried mixture. It is a seafood dish that can vary in ingredients, however, usually includes octopus tentacles, squid rings, mussels, and shrimp. Vegetables can also be used as an alternative to fish, such as leek, butternut squash, and green beans.
All of these fish are covered in a batter which they are dipped in and fried. The medley is served on a rustic platter.
A popular Italian dessert that is overlooked is buranelli. These golden butter cookies come in two varieties: circular and s-shaped.
Nowadays they are prepared for Easter, but traditionally they were baked by the wives of fishermen. Because they are a healthy snack and can go a while without being spoiled, they were perfect for work trips.
A simple buranelli tastes rich and buttery. On the other hand, modern variations spice the cookie with rum, vanilla, or lemon.
Famous People From Venice
One of the most famous people Venice is famous for is Antonio Vivaldi. He is a renowned 17th-century composer known worldwide and often regarded as the best violinist of all time.
Vivaldi was born in Venice and his classical works were influenced hugely by its beauty. His most famous work is Four Seasons, which emphasizes the cacophony between the seasons.
Also, you can find the museum Piccolo Museo della Pieta, a striking baroque Church which has artwork and concerts.
Marco Polo is famous for many things, mainly being an explorer. He notably traveled to Asia in the 12th century, specifically on Silk Road in China. This took him 24 years, and upon his return was sentenced to a Genoese prison for joining the Venetian war.
He accounted for his travels by writing, and his works are now published worldwide. Tales include those from traveling, serving emperor Kublai Khan and imprisonment. Both Macro Polo and his discoveries are some of the most significant things Italy is known for.
The burial site of Marco Polo is San Lorenzo Church in Venice.
Canaletto is an 18th-century painter mostly known for his landscape art. He was born in Venice and allowed this to inspire his works, therefore many of them are of the city. This includes oil paintings such as Stonemason’s Yard, View of the Grand Canal, and The Piazza San Marco.
Whilst his paintings are distributed worldwide from Madrid to London, some remain in Italy. In Venice, you can find them at the Ca’ Rezzonico Museum.
One of the most famous Venetians is Giacomo Casanova, a socialite and adventurer.
In pop culture, Casanova is notorious for being a flirt. He had over 100 lovers and is therefore a household name used when referring to a womanizer.
Similarly, Casanova was a rebel and got into trouble frequently. He escaped prisons, was a scam artist, and briefly worked as a spy. Despite this, his famous last words were “I have lived as a philosopher and I die as a Christian.”
Discovering More Things Venice Is Known For
The city is packed with art galleries displaying works by famous Venetian artists, which often encapsulate the beauty of the city and its bridges. But Venice is famous for many things besides its waterways.
Other attractions include its glassware, majestic gondolas, carnival masks and masquerades, and historical sites like St Mark’s Basilica. In addition, Venice food is unlike any other and captures unique flavors by using fresh seafood and other classic Italian favorites.
The city has so much history waiting to be explored – no wonder it continues to draw millions of people every year! While it may be a touristy destination, it is also truly worth a visit.