Itinerary: Grand Canal, Backstreets of Venice, Basilica of San Marco
For the world’s most beautiful city, Venice had an inauspicious start. The site was once merely a collection of mud banks, and the first settlers came as refugees fleeing invading enemies of the Roman Empire. They sought to escape to terrain so inhospitable that no foe would follow. The success of the community which arose on the site would have been beyond the wildest imaginings of the first Venetians and by the opening of the fifteenth century, Venice enjoyed an unprecedented period of wealth and power. This golden period of the Serenissima Republic is reflected in the art generated for its churches, confraternities, and palaces.
Get off the beaten track and explore the neighborhood, Castello where you will visit the church of San Giorgio dei Greci the Confraternity of San Giorgio Schiavoni, with frescoes by Carpaccio, stroll through the campo of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, to the recently restored Santa Maria dei Miracoli, perhaps the most beautiful church in Venice. Finish the day with a visit to San Marco and have the opportunity to wander slowly through this vast treasure chest of Byzantine and Western art. Golden mosaics cover more than 40,000 square feet (4,000 square meters) of the domes, walls and floor. At times overwhelming because of its size and beauty, the Basilica is one of the most important buildings in Italy and serves as a vivid reminder of the glories of the Venetian Republic.