Venice is known as the “City of Canals,” the “City of Masks,” and “La Dominante,” among many other titles. Each name is derived from a cultural or historical tradition still present in the city, and most have roots in early Venetian history.
The City of Water
The couple, on a trip of a lifetime to celebrate their anniversary, watches the Venetian Lagoon pass by their window aboard the luxury Venice Simplon Orient Express. Starting from London, their luxury train journeyed past some of Europe’s most incredible landscapes, and is now stopping in Venice. Even from their cabin’s window, they can see that water is what Venice is known for. Canals, lagoons, and the sea all contribute to the name, the “City of Water.” From this vantage point, the magnificence of Venice rises ahead of them. It is no surprise that Venice is known as the “Queen of the Adriatic,” a name that commends the city’s dominance of the sea in its earlier history.
The City of Bridges
The couple steps out onto Venice’s streets from Saint Lucia Station, directly across the famed Grand Canal. Already being late afternoon, they choose to simply wander the city, drinking in its glory. Their first destination is the Rialto Bridge, the oldest bridge over the Grand Canal. They take a leisurely stroll through Venice’s streets, passing some of Venice’s other famous sights like the Ponte degli Scalzi bridge. The bridges across the canals are nearly as famous as the water itself, and provide another sample of the uniqueness of Venice’s romance.
The Rialto Bridge is one of the most famous locations in Venice. The couple arrives at the bridge, one side of the ramp stretching up in front of them. This stone bridge was once the only means of crossing the Grand Canal by foot. Even though it is now one of four bridges extending across the Grand Canal, it serves as an icon of this legendary city. They cross the bridge and stop to admire the deep blue of the Grand Canal stretching out in front of them until it disappears around a bend. They wave at gondola riders passing below them. It is a fitting end to an indulgent and relaxing day.
The Floating City
The next morning, the couple starts out on a tour of the city. One stop is the Santa Maria della Salute, an impressive church at a prime location in the city: between the Grand Canal and the Guidecca Canal. The guide explains that this church, like the other structures in Venice, was built on wooden platforms that sit on wooden stakes driven into the ground. Over a million wooden stakes were used for this church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The saltwater petrifies the wood over time, making it incredibly strong and sturdy, and contributes to the longevity of this powerful city. In this sense, Venice literally floats.
Beyond being a watery architectural feat, the Santa Maria della Salute Church towers impressively over its onlookers. The design and beauty of this structure is enough to make it a staple of Venice. Venice is also known as “La Dominante.” Even though its days as a huge power of the seas are long over, the city maintains its magnificence in marvels like this church. It is not difficult to image Venice as a dominating factor in early global affairs. The couple, too, sees signs of the first day of the Carnival of Venice. Even in the early morning, the city is full of masked Venetians dressed in elaborate costumes.
The City of Canals
The setting sun is bright on Venice’s Grand Canal, and rainbows of warm pinks, oranges, and gold shimmer on the azure blue of the largest of Venice’s 177 canals. The couple sits in the gondola as the melodies from the musician’s accordion begin to dance in the air. The intricate network of Venice’s canals, splitting 118 separate islands, and Venetian Gothic architecture is the setting for this evening. As the gondola turns down a narrower, winding canal bordered by classic Venetian buildings, the couple is plunged into a quieter, more intimate Venice. In these moments, the couple feels completely at peace in the city. Venice is, after all, called “Serenissima,” or the Most Serene City. A romantic serenade during a gondola ride in Venice is a bucket list evening, and the couple becomes privy to the unique culture of this magnificent city.
The City of Masks
Night falls on Venice as the couple emerges from a delicious meal of traditional Venetian dishes: local seafood, risotto, and some of the region’s world famous desserts like tiramisu. All day the vibrancy of the masks and costumes of the Carnival of Venice had captivated them, but the day cannot compare to the colorful lights and mystery of nighttime Venice. The streets are different now: there is an unparalleled tone of mystique that fills the couple, enchanting them. They don masks of their own, a sparkly and regal Volto Larva style and a stern, almost intimidating Bauta mask. All around them are elaborate Renaissance costumes, flashy colors, bright lights, feathers standing tall and reaching for the stars above. It no longer feels like the modern day—history manifests itself tonight—and Venice transforms into a city suspended beyond the constraints of time.
Tours aboard the legendary Venice Simplon Orient Express both depart from and arrive in Venice. For more information, and to be swept up in the romance of Venice and numerous other destinations, visit palacetours.com. For more updates, follow Palace Tours around social media: Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest YouTube Linkedin