If there is a more breathtaking view than walking out of the ticket area into the Palazzo Ducale courtyard just off of the Piazza San Marco, then... I will eat (a delicious piece of cake in the shape of) my hat. The Doge's Palace is often overrun with tourists, but with good reason: it is truly a must-see destination. It's a glorious mix of late-medieval and renaissance architectures in ways that only Venice could devise.
Venice Day 2: Piazza San Marco
Venice, Italy. Is there a lovelier city on the planet? Not to me! And in Venice, is there a lovelier spot than the Piazza San Marco? On the second day on my trip last December after my climb up the campanile, I snapped some photos around the gorgeous square, just a few short blocks from my apartment.
Venice, Hotel Danieli
Near my apartment in Venice (where I visited in December 2015) stands a wonderful five-star hotel, the Danieli. Its rooftop restaurant looks out on both the Palazzo Ducalo and San Giorgio Maggiore. Impressive. The whole place has a great vibe of an old Venetian palazzo combined with a modern hotel. Sitting at the bar, sipping my gin & tonic, I felt like I was in a scene from a James Bond film. Turns out they filmed part of Moonraker here...
Venice, Day 5: Giardinetti Reali
On day 5 of my Venetian adventures in December 2015, I visited the Giardinetti Reali. It's a wonderful little oasis of calm and greenery, steps away from the wild humanity of Piazza San Marco. The last time I was there the park was overrun delightfully with cats. The cats now though are all gone, as they are gone from every corner of Venice...
Venice: Caffè Lavena
Venice, Italy, has many great cafes. One of my favorites is Caffè Lavena, mere steps away from San Marco's basilica in that glorious piazza. It opened in 1750(!) and looks much like it did in the 19th century. The mirrors along the walls were especially beautiful to me. A plaque on the wall explains Richard Wagner used to drink here.