The Po River flows into the Adriatic Sea at Venice, one of Italy’s most vibrant cities. A river cruise in northern Italy will bring you to stops in Venice, as well as the historic city of Ravenna, the romantic city of Verona, home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the charming city of Padua, which is the setting of another Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew.
On a Po River cruise you can enjoy daily excursions with guides to these cities, but there can also be opportunities to explore yourself. One of the biggest attractions on a river cruise in northern Italy is definitely Venice. Take a look below at how you can discover the highlights in just one day.
Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square)
At the central square of Venice, there are often hundreds of tourists packed in. On your guided tour you can get a chance to visit Saint Mark’s basilica in the evening when the crowds are gone. The building is one of Venice’s links with Byzantium due to its Italo-Byzantine architecture. When at the Square take the time to check out Doge’s Palace, and the Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built between 1496 and 1506.
Campanile di San Marco (Bell Tower)
Get a bird’s eye panoramic view of the city by climbing the city’s tallest building, the Campanile. Built between 888 and 912, it reaches 99m high, well above the surrounding buildings. On a clear day, you can see all the lagoons and the Dolomites in the distance.
You can leave one boat for another in Venice, and enjoy a romantic journey on the Grand Canal or through the smaller water ways of the city. The most practical way of getting around in Venice and avoiding heavy foot traffic, you can sit back and see Venice from another side on the gondolas.
Most local Venetians agree the best place to get gelato is the Boutique del Gelato, on the salizzada San Lio. There is always a huge crowd waiting to be served, but that just indicates the high quality of the gelato being served. Or try Alaska Gelateria-Sorbetteria, where Carlo Pistacchi has a passion for making ice cream using fresh, natural ingredients to make the most delicious flavoured ice cream.
Cross over the Grand Canal on the Rialto Bridge, made of Renaissance stone and lined with shops. Once the only place to cross the Canal from one side to the other – unless you had a boat – it is still impressive today, though has gone through many changes and repairs over the years.
As you pass over the bridge, stop to check out the market, which has been a central part of Venetian life since 1097. You will find all manner or fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, flowers and souvenirs here. As well as seafood that you have never seen before, and at the restaurants lining the square you can taste these delicious foods sold on the market yourself.
For anyone interested in art, visit the Accademia Gallery, for the enormous collection of Old Masters paintings, one of the best and biggest in Italy. See works from the like of Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Bellini, Paolo Veneziano and more. If you are more interested in the contemporary art scene, check out the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of 20th century art or the Punta della Dogana, which has brought the works of 21st century artists to Venice.
Photo by: Shaun Dunmall