Romantic Venice

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    Kiss in San Marco Square

    San Marco Square
    ••• No matter where you roam, the most beautiful thing is the love between two people. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Pictures that Capture the Romantic Charm of Venice

    Italy has eclipsed other destinations as the top getaway for romantics celebrating a memorable honeymoon or special vacation. The country's exceptional food and wine, rich arts tradition, exquisite architecture, fascinating history, and affinity for amore all contribute to its incomparable charm.

    Of all the cities in Italy, none is more romantic than Venice. Its scenic beauty, with vistas over water that have inspired some of the world's greatest artists, bring out the romantic in everyone. These pictures may have the same effect on you.

    Don't be surprised if a moment of passion overtakes you in Venice's Piazza San Marco -- after all, this is the country that invented amore.

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    Check into a King-Size Lovenest

    ••• A Murano glass chandelier hangs over the bed, whose pillows are clad in pleated Fortuny fabrics. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    One of the newest hotels in Venice, the Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca Island features spacious guestrooms whose design echoes the magnificent surroundings.

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    Go for a Gondola Ride

    ••• Gondola "parking lot" behind Piazza San Marco. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Some couples believe a romantic trip to Venice wouldn't be complete without at least one ride along a scenic canal serenaded by a gondolier.

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    Pause in Piazza San Marco

    ••• To avoid the worst crowding, the best times to visit Piazza San Marco are late in the day or early in the morning. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    The no. 1 destination for tourists in Venice, Piazza San Marco encompasses three iconic structures, shops, restaurants, and a vast, pigeon-filled plaza.

    Torre dell'Orologio, the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, is its most recognizable landmark. The medieval Doge's Palace was where the business of Venice was conducted. And Saint Mark's Basilica is the religious heart of Venice.

    All is not ancient in Piazza San Marco, however. In the streets surrounding her monuments visitors will find souvenir shops that sell exquisite Murano glass, handmade Venetian masks, and fine leather goods.

    Italian brands known the world over, including Prada, Versace, Loro Piana, and Ermenegildo Zegna, have outposts here, as do international fashion and accessories brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Chanel.

    Note: The shopping area is also thick with sidewalk vendors selling imitation bags. The Italian authorities frown on visitors who patronize them.

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    Bask in the Basilica San Marco

    ••• Inside the basilica, mosaics overhead and underfoot dazzle visitors. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Sunlight illuminates the golden majesty of the Byzantine basilica's western façade.

    Parts of Venice's most famous and opulent church date back to the 11th century.

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    Dine Alfresco at a Waterfront Café

    ••• Surrounded by all this water, Venetian cuisine relies heavily on seafood and pasta. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Pause at one of Venice's outdoor cafés. Whether overlooking the waterfront or street life, they provide a perch to marvel at the city's sights and sounds.

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    Cross the Accademia Bridge

    ••• © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Consisting of 317 small islands, Venice has 150 canals and 400-plus bridges. The wooden Accademia Bridge is among the few that span the wide Grand Canal.

    Not only is the Accademia Bridge among the best spots to view an iconic Venetian scene of boats of all sizes plying the Grand Canal, it is also steps from the Gallerie dell'Accademia, a repository of priceless Venetian art, much of it Christian in nature.

    Works in the Gallerie dell'Accademia date from the Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo periods.

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    Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

    ••• Sculpture by Alexander Calder circa 1965 poised on the terrace of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection overlooking the Grand Canal. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Once the home of the expatriate American heiress, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection offers lovers of modern art an exceptional place to explore.

    The entire Peggy Guggenheim Collection is housed in a one-story, former 18th-century palace. While the rooms holding her collection of modern art -- which includes works by Picasso, Ernst, Giacometti, Pollock, and other greats of the 20th century -- are small and can be crowded, the outdoor space is magnificent.

    The front of the palazzo features a sculpture garden. Behind the building is a terrace (pictured) overlooking the Grand Canal.

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    Find Beauty Everywhere

    ••• Sculpture of a woman beside a building's doorway. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    The beauty of Venice isn't limited to her museums.

    Mysterious alleyways and enchanting canals, ancient buildings and lively squares where art reveals itself at every turn, and scenic vistas that elevate the spirit all contribute to the romance of Venice.

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    Shop for Murano Glass

    ••• Shop selling Murano glass in Piazza San Marco. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    Venice is famed for its colorful Murano glass, which is forged on the nearby island of Murano.

    Couples needn't sail to Murano to find a huge selection of glass. Venice itself has countless shops that sell Murano glass lamps, jewelry, serving pieces, bottle stoppers, and hundreds of other items that can be magnificently rendered in glass.

    Whether you're on a honeymoon in Venice (and have some wedding cash burning a hole in your pockets) or are on a romantic vacation together, an artful Murano glass object will bring back memories of your trip for years to come.

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    Savor a Meal at Cipriani

    ••• Waiter at Harry's Dolce prepares a flaming crepes suzette dessert. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    The Cipriani name is legendary in Venice. Its Harry's Bar is where Hemingway quenched his mighty thirst, and where the Bellini cocktail was invented.

    Cipriani has three locations in Venice where it serves Northern Italian cuisine. The original spot is in Piazza San Marco, where the ambrosial Bellini cocktail is the signature drink. The rosy-hued beverage consists of fresh peach nectar and prosecco, which is Italian champagne.

    Harry's Dolce, on Giudecca Island, originally featured only desserts; today it serves complete meals. Locanda Cipriani, on the island of Torcello an hour's boatride from Venice, is the most romantic setting of all.

    After the boat drops you off at the Torcello jetty, you must walk alongside a canal -- sometimes in darkness -- until you reach the restaurant where Queen Elizabeth herself has dined.

    Cocktails are served in a small garden, and then you are invited inside to partake of your meal. On the night we dined, the menu consisted of baby lobster salad, seafood risotto, mixed grilled fish with aromatic herbs, a small salad, and chocolate mousse served in a tulip-shaped biscuit.

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    Salute the Sunset

    ••• Known as Piazzetta, this small area is located along Piazza San Marco's waterfront. © Susan Breslow Sardone.

    There is no more romantic time to be in Venice than sunset.

    By sunset the crowds have dwindled, rays of the sun bounce off the water, and the fading light illuminates the world's most beautiful city to be in love.