It’s difficult to wander around Venice as a tourist without running into picturesque spots whose beauty and singular charm takes your breath away. But, if you have a curious and careful eye, you can find new, less common ways of seeing the city from on high or on the water.
A climb up the bell tower of the Basilica of San Marco, or the other one on San Giorgio Maggiore Island across the way, lets you see Venice like the seagulls and pigeons do each day as they circle above.
Wandering amidst the city’s streets and squares, Venice seems like an immense, unsolvable labyrinth. What a wonder it is then, to look down on its expanse in miniature from a bell tower above.
Your eye takes in the spectacle from on high, skimming over brick-coloured roofs of all dimensions that run from one end of the city to the other. From the top of a building or bell tower, you take in all the city landmarks, dotted here and there among the roofs. Gazing beyond the city boundaries, you see the myriad of islands that speckle the lagoon north and south. They go from the well-known and large to the tinier, more incognito ones.
Towards the mainland, the port with its immense cranes and warehouses catches your eye. On a clear day, you can stare out across the Lido to the shimmering sea in the distant eastern horizon.
Your perspective changes entirely when you go by boat along the water’s edge through the canals. It gives you a completely different take on the city. If you don’t have any Venetian friends to go round by boat with, you can catch a gondola at one of the different spots around the city where the gondoliers stop to pick up passengers.
Sitting just above the water, you venture forth into the winding, narrow canals, alive with their floating daily traffic. Just like the streets of any city, you find some busy canals and others where boats pass only infrequently. In these, the few sounds to break the silence are the oars hitting the water, voices drifting out an open window, or people passing on a nearby street. You slip past a succession of houses, strung closely together. Every now and then, the canal opens up giving you a glimpse into an alleyway time left behind.