In June 2020, with the world slowly unfurling from the tight grip of lockdown, I made a decision that would forever change my perspective on travel. I packed my bags, left my home, and set my sights on Venice. The timing was impeccable; Italy was just awakening from its COVID-induced slumber, and the usual throngs of tourists were notably absent. This, my dear readers, was the beginning of what I can only describe as a love affair with a city that floats on water.

Staying in Venice for an extended period taught me the true essence of the city. It’s a place that demands to be experienced on foot, with each step revealing hidden gems and stories untold. My choice of footwear, Made in Italy clogs, became my trusted companions as I traversed the labyrinth of bridges and alleyways, discovering beauty in the most unexpected places.

Pay To Stay In Venice

The introduction of an entrance fee, a controversial yet bold move, signaled Venice’s commitment to preservation. This wasn’t about exclusion but about ensuring the survival of a city under siege from mass tourism and environmental threats. I applauded this initiative, recognizing the need to protect this open-air museum for future generations.

Walk Venice

Walking through Venice, in my made-in-Italy clogs, was a dance with history. Every bridge crossed, and every cobblestone path explored was a step closer to understanding the true essence of Venetian living. It was here, in this city of masks and mirages, that I found a reflection of my own spirit—adventurous, luxurious, and ever-curious.

Gracie Opulanza Venice 2021 Covid 19 survivor (2)

Seven-Day Experiences To See

Beyond the iconic sights like the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice unveiled its secrets to me. Climbing the Campanile, I was rewarded with breathtaking views without the usual wait, a privilege of timing rather than planning. The magic of St. Mark’s Square at night, the allure of artisanal shopping on the Rialto Bridge, and the slow fashion treasures found in the ateliers of Michele De Fina offered a shopping experience like no other.

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La Biennale

The Venice boat show and La Biennale became highlights of my stay, offering glimpses into the city’s vibrant culture and its future. I marveled at the skill of handbag makers, a craft passed down through generations and was captivated by the elegance of the world’s most stunning gondola race. It was clear; that Venice was more than just a city. It was a living, breathing work of art, desperately seeking a new kind of tourist—those willing to immerse themselves and support the city beyond a fleeting visit.

This happens once a year and La Biennale 

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St Mark’s Campanile Bell Tower Of St Mark’s Basilica

Venice, in those early days of reopening, was a revelation. The silence of the canals, the empty squares, and the closed shutters of shops were poignant reminders of what had been lost. Yet, amidst this quiet, there was a beauty and a chance to connect with the city in a way few have. Over six weeks, I explored every nook and cranny, from the bustling markets to the serene churches, diving deep into the heart of Venice’s lesser-known quarters like the Ghetto area, a place rich in history yet often overlooked by the casual visitor.

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Venice By Night - Idyllic Romantic Destination

San Marco Square Venice

Buy Local Bags

Or go buy a made-in-Italy, designed-in-Venice bag from Michele De Fina. This former designer worked for luxury Italian brands of the past the big difference is that the bag is slow fashion and niche.

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Why Buy Coral on the Rialto Bridge?

The Rialto Bridge, an architectural marvel straddling the Grand Canal, is more than just a crossing; it’s a gateway to a marketplace of wonders. Here, amidst the buzz of negotiations and the ballet of shoppers, I discovered the allure of Venetian coral. Buying coral here isn’t merely a transaction; it’s an initiation into a legacy of craftsmanship and luxury. Each piece, authenticated and steeped in the aura of the lagoon city, is a testament to the skill of artisans who have honed their craft through centuries. The experience is unparalleled—selecting a piece of coral on this iconic bridge is like choosing a gem from the crown of Venice herself. It’s a tangible piece of the city’s maritime heritage, a keepsake that carries the essence of its bygone eras and the whispers of its waters.

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Hotel Palazzo Stays

From the intimate charm of Hotel Heureka to the grandeur of Ca’ Sagredo Hotel, each stay was a chapter in my Venetian story.

Hotel Heureka. Don’t stay in any hotel. If you are seeking a memorable hotel stay also choose, Ca’ Sagredo Hotel Venice and dance the staircase away. Take a look at my knitwear photoshoot I did.

Choosing where to stay became an adventure in itself. The palazzos of Venice, with their rich history and opulent decor, offered a glimpse into the city’s glorious past.

Grand Canal view from Ca' Sagredo hotel.

And for those seeking a brush with celebrity, the Hotel Excelsior on the Lido was a portal to the glamour of the Venice Film Festival.

Excelsior in Lido. The most stunning classic boat in the world. Book a private Riva boat even if it’s through the canals to your hotel.

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Festa del Redentore

My journey was punctuated by moments of pure joy, from witnessing the Festa del Redentore  Festa del Redentore and its spectacular gondola race to exploring the glassmaking wonders of Murano. And, of course, no visit to Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. But here, I urge you, go beyond the standard fare. Book for an hour or two, negotiate a fair price, and immerse yourself in the true spirit of Venice.

Festa del Redentore – Venice’s Beautiful Gondola Race

Festa del Redentore - Venice's Beautiful Gondola Race MENsTYLEFashion 2020 Italy summer (7)

Murano Glass Jewellery

Reflecting on my time in Venice, it’s clear this was not just a trip but a journey of the soul. Venice taught me about resilience, beauty, and the importance of preserving history. It showed me that to truly experience a place, you must be willing to dive deep, look beyond the surface, and connect with its heart. And so, to you, my dear readers, I say: Venice awaits, not just as a destination, but as an experience that will captivate, enchant, and ultimately transform you.

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Let me take you on a journey through this floating masterpiece, sharing the quintessence of Venetian luxury and the hidden treasures that make it a haven for those like me who cherish the finer things in life. Booking a gondola in Venice isn’t just about crossing from one side of the canal to another; it’s about stepping into a timeless romance. As I glided through the serene waters, with the melody of the oars gently caressing the lagoon, Venice unfolded before me in its most authentic form. It’s an experience where history whispers to you from the decaying elegance of its palazzos and the silent nods of its bridges. Opting for an hour or two, rather than the customary thirty minutes, allowed me to truly immerse in this aquatic ballet. Negotiating a fair price wasn’t just about the ride; it was about supporting the heartbeats of Venice—the gondoliers, whose families have navigated these waters for generations. Their stories, woven into the fabric of the city, turned each turn of the canal into a page of a living history book.

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Dress Up

Dressing up in Venice is not just a recommendation; it’s a necessity. This city, with its timeless elegance and flair for the dramatic, invites you to be part of the spectacle. Whether you’re navigating the canals or dancing the night away in a historic palazzo, Venice demands you rise to the occasion.

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Venice, Beyond the Surface

My three-month sojourn in Venice wasn’t just a visit; it was a voyage into the soul of the city. Beyond the well-trodden paths of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Rialto Bridge lay a Venice ripe with stories waiting to be discovered. From the enchanting nights in St. Mark’s Square, where the city’s heart beats in a different rhythm, to the hidden ateliers where artisans breathe life into their creations, every corner held a story. The Venice Boat Show and La Biennale unveiled the city’s innovative spirit, while the Ghetto area revealed layers of history often overlooked by the casual visitor.

A New Dawn for Venice

As I mingled with the locals, their resilience shone through. Venice, emerging from the shadows of the pandemic, was reimagining its future. The introduction of an entrance fee, a measure to safeguard its fragile beauty from the scars of mass tourism, was a testament to its dedication to preservation. This city, a living museum cradled by the lagoon, was charting a course towards sustainable tourism, inviting visitors to linger longer, to delve deeper.

The Essence of Venetian Living

In Venice, every sunset paints the sky with promises of new discoveries, and every sunrise brings with it the allure of hidden alleys and silent canals waiting to be explored. To those who seek more than just a glimpse of this city, I say, come with an open heart and a pair of comfortable shoes. Venice is not just a destination; it’s an experience, a journey into the heart of beauty, history, and unparalleled luxury.

As my gondola navigated the veins of this aquatic city, I realized that Venice is not merely a place to visit; it’s a realm to be felt, a dream to be lived. So, to those wandering souls yearning for a touch of opulence and the warmth of history, Venice awaits with open arms and a gondola ready to take you on the journey of a lifetime.