There are few cities as beloved as Venice, which is reflected in its #5 global ranking for our Place category, a measure of the quality of the natural and built environment, of neighborhoods and landmarks.
It category also measures Crime Rate, in which Venice ranks #2 globally only behind Singapore. Its renowned sense of place elevates it to #24 globally in our Neighborhoods & Landmarks subcategory.
Not surprisingly, Venice sees more visitors with every passing year.
As at most over-loved destinations, it pays to rise with the birds—or, in the case of Piazza San Marco, with the pigeons. “The world’s finest drawing room” is a vast and virtually empty expanse at dawn, save for the wisps of fog off the canal, and you can be first into the Basilica when it opens.
Then it’ll be time for coffee at Florian, a landmark of a different sort— established in 1720, it’s one of the oldest coffee houses in continuous operation. Landmarks are woven into the very fabric of Venice. One among a thousand others—and a great performance venue enhanced by walls full of Tintorettos—is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, named after the patron saint of contagious diseases who was thought to deliver the people from the plague. As flooded and crowded as it might be, Venice’s safety makes unscripted wandering from neighborhood to neighborhood richly rewarding day and night.
Venice makes us yearn to touch the soul of the city, and you can come close in the neighborhood of Dorsoduro, a casually artsy district of students, markets, bars and osterias. Feel the heartbeat of local life in Campo Santa Margherita, a square where Venetian life unfolds outdoors smoothly from caffè and fish market in the morning to student rendezvous in the afternoon to aperitif at sunset to dinner in the evening glow.
Another way to feel the Venetian essence is to take home an example of exquisite craftsmanship for which the city is known (indeed, it ranks #18 in the world in our Shopping subcategory). Some of the best involves lovingly updated tradition, often within families, as at the Sent Sisters glass jewelry, made on the island of Murano. Emilia has done the same with lace, the centuries-old lifeblood of Burano. Ca’Macana is where you’ll buy your Carnivale mask. After all, it was good enough to make the masks for Stanley Kubrick’s notorious Eyes Wide Shut. And lovers of print come to swoon (and get custom visiting cards) at the Gianni Basso workshop, a tiny, fully functional, centuries-old shrine to the art of letterpress.