Come September, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Visiting Venice, even for a weekend, is like stepping into another world. In fact, its one-of-a-kind atmosphere makes it one of the best European city breaks within easy reach (Venice flights are just 2–2.5 hours from the UK).
I’m fresh from my own whirlwind weekend in Venice, where I picked up these top tips for discovering its magic:
- Regata Storica: I was lucky enough to catch Venice’s historical regatta (which is held on the first Sunday of September each year). You don’t have to be into rowing to love this six-century-old event. It’s all about spectacle. And, although it’s hard to credit, this gorgeous pageant of colourful boats and costumes makes this prettiest of cities even more eye-catching.
- Titian: This master of colour ruled the ‘Venetian school’, the city’s awe-inspiring run of important Renaissance artists. Among his contemporaries (including greats like Tintoretto), Titian was known as the ‘sun amid small stars’. I suggest you blaze a trail to the Gallerie dell’Accademia to see how Titian’s daring use of colour can still thrill today.
- Celebrity comes to Lido: The Venetian island of Lido was the Saint-Tropez of its day. Once the byword in bathing resorts, its heyday is long past. But glamour does return to Lido each year, in late August to early September, on the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival. It’s a prestigious event for filmmakers. But it also brings a big dose of Hollywood froth to Venice. This year, Lido hosted the likes of James Franco and Naomi Watts.
- Biennale: The buzz is bigger than ever in Venice from June to November, with its architecture Biennale in even years and art Biennale in odd years. Even if you don’t make it to the exhibitions in the Giardini gardens and Arsenale, you’ll notice quirky events and installations popping up all round the city. And, in the city’s bars and restaurants, you’ll rub shoulders with some of the world’s top artists and designers.
- Late summer nights: Once the energy-sapping heat of August fades, Venice nights grow even more alluring. Make the most of the end-of-season warmth with softly lit dinners outside canal-side restaurants, or an evening meander through Venice’s picturesque squares and lanes.
- Harry’s Bar: Nowhere captures the romance of Venice better than Harry’s Bar, to the west of the Piazza San Marco. There’s no doubt you’ll be keeping intriguing company (Harry’s has hosted the great, good and notorious – from Charlie Chaplin to Woody Allen). And if you order a Bellini, you can’t go wrong.