Venice must be the world’s most romantic city. It’s the first place that always comes to mind when I’m asked to recommend destinations for couples keen on rekindling a romance or looking for ideas for luxury honeymoon hotels or special anniversary holidays.
I was recently asked how I would craft a package of Grantourismo-style holidays focused on romance but sprinkled with some local travel, experiential travel, and slow and sustainable travel experiences, and Venice was on that list. I wanted to ponder the reasons why it’s so romantic a bit more over here…
For me, Venice is spellbinding. There’s something magical about Venice that captivates visitors. It’s hard to describe and difficult to define, yet the city has a very special allure that makes it completely enchanting. If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at this mesmerizing little time-lapse of sunset on the Grand Canal.
I think it’s partly to do with the water and light and colour – the way the colours of the palazzi with their peeling paint and pretty arches and crumbling balconies are softened by the sunlight.
And then the way the elegant old facades are reflected in the water. And in Venice there is water everywhere. In the Grand Canal, the most entrancing waterway of all that is the bustling heart of this city of islands, in the tiny tangle of canals that crisscross the city, framed by tiny bridges connected by narrow lanes, in the vast Venetian lagoon, in the still sea, and in the water that laps the shores of the never-ending beaches of the Lido.
Venice’s romance also comes from its layers of complex history – its centuries-old cathedrals and churches, its museums and galleries with walls covered with art, the statues and fountains that decorate squares, and its cobblestones worn smooth by time. It’s not hard to feel romantic when lost in moments in a timeless city.
The city’s modern charms also work to enchant – café tables on a sunny piazza flanked by charmingly old-fashioned shops like bookbinder Paolo Olbi’s, the Rialto market stalls overflowing with freshly caught seafood still smelling of the salty air, tiny dimly-lit bars where spritz-sipping locals spill onto the squares, canalside restaurants shaded by umbrellas where the water laps against gondolas tied nearby, abundant opportunities to savour crisp Veneto wine in the sunshine, grand old hotels filled with antiques like the Londra Palace, Ca’ Sagredo and Centurion Palace, and smart taxi boats – their polished wood gleaming in the sun – that zip travellers James Bond-style to the water entrances of those elegant accommodations.
And then there are the little things, the kaleidoscope of colours that burst from the fresh flowers in buckets sold at the markets, the sound of children kicking a football around in a laneway, the noise of wood against wood that the vaporetto makes when it pulls up to the docks, the sweet smell of pizza being pulled out of a wood-fired oven, and the song of the gondoliers as they glide down the Grand Canal at sunset.
While fine restaurants, atmospheric bars, luxury hotels, and romantic things to do – from cooking courses to walking tours – are the ingredients I’ll form into a list for couples looking for a romantic getaway or honeymoon destination, sometimes a place is enough to enchant on its own, especially if that place is Venice.
Getting There: Flighthub is a terrific tool for finding cheap flights to Venice. The most romantic way to get from the airport to your accommodation is by water taxi – especially if your palazzo has a water entrance! You can book a water taxi online through water taxi cooperative Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia.
By the way, I’ve been using a handy tool to find and book luxury hotels around the world from my iPhone and I’ll be reviewing the Small Luxury Hotels of the World iPhone app here very soon. Do you use hotel apps on your iPhone or iPad? Got any favourites? Terence and I are currently developing an app of our own, so would love to hear your thoughts, particularly any tips for for accommodation apps.