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By Maria Liberati -  Every year millions of people postpone the doldrums of the everyday grind by penciling in a much-needed retreat into their already hectic schedules. Down to an art form, the all too familiar feeling of getting the most out of our mini-holiday, sometimes, seems as stressful as the detailed logistics spent during the initial preparation. A frantic rush around, we can’t help trying to squeeze in as many recreational activities as possible during the little time allotted before being whisked back into reality. If you’re planning a European getaway with Venice on the storefront… this straightforward tour guide should definitely make the sightseeing-travel process a little easier. Ideal for families, friends, and romantics alike, here are a few pitch-perfect solutions for achieving the memorable vacation you’ve been dreaming of all year.

More than fabulous wine and cuisine, you’ll definitely need to wade through the various aspects of vacation planning by asking the essential getaway questions… budget, transportation, accommodation, and recreation. Those are big question to consider but vital to your journey’s success. Here’s a useful tip… guided-tours are great for first-time visitors. Plan lodging by selecting hotels, villas, or apartments… and whether or not you’ll be purchasing a vacation package.  With a host of sights to see throughout the year, try eliminating unnecessary mind clutter by determining your interests with a few hallmark destinations to start:

PIAZZA SAN MARCO: Drawing international appeal, begin your vacation in the heart of Venice, where the ambiance of stunning architecture prevails as a must-see for any tourist.

DOGE’S PALACE AND BASILICA DI SAN MARCO: Gothic estates and famous cathedrals embody the status of opulent Venice, making for a perfect stop along any city tour.

THE VENETIAN GHETTO: Originating in 1516, this historical attraction located in Cannaregiosestiere of Venice, is still a way of Jewish life and sightseers can visit shops, a restaurant, and synagogues.

LIDO: Take a vaporetto to this gorgeouseleven-mile sandbar, located off the Adriatic Sea. It will keep you occupied for hours with its beautiful beach, shops, restaurants… and if you happen to be vacationing in September, Lido is the home to the Venice Film Festival.

MERCERIE: If your credit cards are burning holes inside your wallet, spend the afternoon in the historic shopping district of Venice. Nestled between the Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge, visitors can browse a selection of boutiques while conquering the call of a little retail therapy.

With breathtaking panoramic views and awe-inspiring design, you can highlight your getaway with everything from Venice Walking Tours to Veneto Wine Tasting Excursions and Ca’ Rezzonico Museum to the La Fenice Theater.

Remember, Venice is world famous for its canals, and once you arrive in the city of light, you have two choices of public transportation… on foot or by water. A smart idea would be acquiring a map. Taking a vaporetto (water bus/taxi) is the epitome of getting around those winding canals and travel passes are available. However, for a paramount Venetian experience, many visitors still crave the gondola. If exploring the city on foot… don’t worry if you get lost, just think of it as a cultural expedition.

Think outside the box… because the sky’s the limit.

Maria Liberati


*When you visit the Doge's Palace, don't forget The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge), and was built in 1602.

**Accademia Galleries, a very rich collection of Venetian paintings from Veneto, from the Bizantine and Gothic fourteenth century to the artists of the Renaissance, Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto and Tiziano until Gianbattista Tiepolo and the Vedutisti of the eighteenth century, Canaletto, Guardi, Bellotto, Longhi.

***Peggy Guggenheim Collection is among the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.

****Murano, a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, famous for its glass making.