In 1880, the Italian writer Pompeo Molmenti wrote “Venice, city of love, who would doubt it! Love affairs and famous lovers, the entire history of Venice is intimately linked to Cupid… Romanticism and eroticism, sacred love or secular love, Cupid reigns supreme here”. So where better to spend Valentine’s Day this year? Here are some ideas to inspire the perfect romance-filled day.
For a truly magical start to the day, get up early and watch the sun rise over the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge; the echoing streets are empty at this time of the morning, and the city feels timeless and dream-like.
Warm yourselves up with a cappuccino and sweet pastry at Le Café in Campo Santo Stefano, and then head to the extraordinary Scala Contarini del Bovolo – a fairytale spiral staircase crowned with a stunning domed cupola – for sensational views over the rooftops of Venice towards St Mark’s Basilica.
Take a short ride on a traghetto (gondola ferry) across the Grand Canal from Sant’Angelo to San Tomà, and wander through the charming alleyways of the Dorsoduro district until you find Ca’ Rezzonico – a lavish palazzo that now houses the museum of 18th century Venice, sumptuously furnished and decorated with paintings by Canaletto, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and other Venetian masters.
Once you’ve had your fill of culture, amble over to lively Campo Santa Margherita, and settle down for an al fresco lunch outside Osteria alla Bifora – the perfect spot for people-watching in the Spring sunshine.
Afterwards, head down to San Basilio, and take the vaporetto across to the Giudecca for a couple of hours of serious pampering in the couples’ suite at the luxurious Bauer Palladio Spa.
Then when you’re feeling thoroughly refreshed and relaxed, enjoy a stroll along the Giudecca canal (pausing for a pick-me up Spritz or gelato at one of the many water-front cafes, if you feel like it) before hopping across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore for a late-afternoon visit to Palladio’s magnificent church, complete with soaring bell-tower that offers incredible 360 degree views over the lagoon.
As sun starts to set, take the vaporetto back across to the Zattere and walk hand-in-hand along the boulevard, stopping off for an early evening aperitivo at Osteria Al Squero, overlooking the picturesque San Trovaso gondola workshop.
If you’re in the mood for entertainment, treat yourselves to a box at the world-famous La Fenice opera house for a performance of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” – or for an even more unusual experience, head to Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto for a Musica a Palazzo performance of the same opera, where each act is performed in a different salon of the historic palace.
Round off your day with a decadent dinner a deux; for sweeping views over Venice and the San Marco bacino, indulge yourselves at the Danieli Terrace Restaurant, where the chef’s sensory six-course Valentine’s Eve menu is bound to delight. Alternatively, for a more intimate dining experience, book a table at Al Covo – a tiny, atmospheric restaurant in Castello that specializes in the finest Veneto cuisine. And finally, finish the evening with a night-time stroll through the city’s ancient streets and squares – an unforgettable way to wind down and end the perfect Venetian Valentine’s Day.