ROMANCE IN ITALY
Italy offers opportunities for romance at every turn.
By Germaine Stafford
With its millennial history, magnificent countryside, and unparalleled culture, Italy has few competitors for the title of world’s most romantic country. From the heroic folly that is Venice to the celebrated charisma of the Amalfi Coast, each area has its own personality. Balancing busy tourist activities with moments of solitude is often the trick to experiencing a true sense of place. If you’re a lucky cruiser pulling into one of these popular port cities, snuggle up to your sweetheart and get ready for romance.
What is it about Venice’s brooding beauty that bewitches us so? Certainly, not many cities are built on wooden piles. Venice’s attractions are many and varied, but perhaps it is the constant, gliding presence of water that makes it so otherworldly. A vague sense of unease prevails, which is part of the city’s allure, the realization that all is not necessarily what it seems, an unquiet dark spirit never far beneath the glittering surface.
While the city’s main attractions are difficult to skip (what’s a visit to Venice without seeing the inside of Saint Mark’s Basilica or making a wish on the Bridge of Sighs?), the true magic of Venice can be found after leaving the main sights behind.
Head west from Piazza San Marco, picking your way through echoing alleyways and over bridges until you reach the Cannaregio district, stopping here and there to enjoy a glass of wine or an aperitivo served with bite-sized appetizers known as cicchetti. Cannaregio has a wonderfully old-fashioned atmosphere and, besides being packed with artisan workshops, specialty stores, and reasonably priced bars and restaurants, it is home to the Ghetto, Venice’s traditional Jewish area.
After you explore the city on foot, it’s time to see it from above. At almost 325 feet, the Campanile in Piazza San Marco is Venice’s tallest building. Although the present structure dates only to 1902, this is where Galileo first demonstrated his telescope to Venice’s Doge. Intriguingly, much of what Galileo would have seen back in 1609 is what you’ll see today: a panorama that spans the entire lagoon, the Adriatic and the islands, and, on a super-clear day, even the Dolomites. Sharing a view like this is well worth the line and the €8 entry fee.
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