‘Sip on an espresso that is filled with history in the beautiful San Marco Square’
Greeted by smart white-jacketed waiters, welcome to the oldest cafe in Europe! With its unique interior, frescoed ceilings and mirrored walls, Caffé Florian is an iconic symbol of Venice established in 1720, making it the oldest functioning coffee-house in Europe. Set under the arcades of the Procuratie Nuove in St. Mark’s Square, this served as a meeting ground for numerous writers, intellectuals and poets including Charles Dickens, Stravinsky and the infamous Casanova. Rumour has it that Casanova came not only to fulfill his daily caffeine fix but find himself female companionship as it was the only cafe at the time that allowed women to enter too. The cafe is filled with different themed rooms, but we found it most pleasant to sit outside and study the magnificent detailing and materials used and watch the hassle of the people while listening to the orchestra.
Yes, it definitely is a bit of cliché experience, but for a first timer in Venice it makes a grand one! The great thing is that most people prefer to sit center in the square facing the music, leaving the wooden marble-topped tables and leather couches under the arches almost entirely free. The cafe will give you a luxurious experience with live music played by the orchestra (which they btw charge you with) and serve tea treats strictly on a silver trays that you can enjoy while viewing the St. Mark’s square.
In the square itself, you are able to experience the stunning basilica, the beautiful Palazzo Ducale and the campanile. Did you know that Piazza San Marco is the only square in Venice which is called a Piazza, the rest are called “campo“. Do note that the piazza is one of the most sought out sites and tends to crowd with lots of people, so make sure to view the square as early as possible. I watched sunrise in May at 6.30 and it was so worth it to capture it through my lens!
Make sure to visit the piazza really early in the morning to capture the calmness beauty of the iconic sites. The facade in front is one of my favourites and I cant help but to be reminded of the LV symbol from it. I love the pale colour and the tile detailing.
As you walk through the piazza, you are greeted with lagoon and the views of San Giorgio Maggiore, the 16th-century Benedictine church. This spot is one of the most famous ones to take of the gondolas.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace, is a photogenic site in the early sunrise of Venice! I was there at 6.30 to capture the soft colours, airy design and smooth repetition that lays right next to the grand Basilica. The exterior is filled with harmonious angels and stone carvings that generate the most beautiful photospots due to its calm hues. Adjoining the palace is another Venice icon, the Bridge of Sighs, leading to the palace’s prison.
Above left: oldest window in the world made from glass bottle bottoms
Ps. the pink columns on the side of the Palazzo Ducale has a symbolic meaning. It represents the “announcing of death sentence” and the pink represents blood, while the executions then took place between the 2 columns.
Basilica di San Marco is a famous religious landmark ever since the remains of St. MArk were brought to Venice in 829. The chapel has been lavished with Byzantine art treasures that were brough to Venice by crusaders after the fall of Constantinople.