Venice is best seen from the water, in the half-light of an early morning or a fading day. There’s nothing quite like sailing the silence, past Gothic palazzos of shadowy rooms and magnificent chandeliers.
As far as cities go, it’s a fly trapped in resin, with virtually no architectural development in modern times. A fourteenth century Manhattan. The impossibility of it boggles the mind.
Perhaps surprisingly for one of the world’s most visited places, there are still pockets of Venice where you can wander the time-worn canals undisturbed. So I suggest that if you’re headed for Venice (hopefully at no point between June and September) you avoid the tourist-guide bilge and head straight for Santa Croce.
Santa Croce is sublime, it is a district filled with narrow deserted backstreets and the Venetian flags of drying laundry. It is secluded, barring the occasional cat or a clanging church bell.
A guide to Santa Croce, Venice
The best place from which to explore the district is the Academia vaparetto stop. Disembark the boat at the station and do not concern yourself with directions, just walk.
Refreshingly it’s not all Murano glass shops and gondoliers, but Venetians getting on with the business of life…
But of course, you’re never too far from those pesky gondoliers. And you can take my word for it when I tell you that even if you vainly think of yourself as the ‘non-tourist tourist’, a gondola ride is an absolute must. It’s a different perspective – to see Venice from the historical vantage point of its creators, as it’s meant to be seen, all rusted bricks and blistered metal.
Like most of life’s finer pleasures, Venice is vastly improved as darkness descends. Its cloying romance dissipates with the daylight – instead replaced with purgatorial shadows, mystery and long buried secrets. The streets are eerie in uncountable ways – nourishing a macabre sense of ill-intent at every turn. However, if you’re (quite fairly) not sold on the fairytale dystopia of an incurable ghoul, here is a list of other things you may wish to check out.
Walk – Santa Croce
Listen – Musica Palazzo
Stay – Aman Venice
Eat – Antinche Carampane
Do – Photographic Tour (amazing photographer Vinicio guides you through Venice’s most beautiful streets)
Watch – The Talented Mr Ripley
Wear – Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini