Venice will steal your heart

Venice — one of the most romantic cities in the world. A skeptic but a romantic at heart, I wondered if it could live up to its reputation.

Our adventure began in a water taxi, speeding down one of the most beautiful “streets” in the world — the two-mile-long Grande Canal. There’s a magic in this car-free water wonderland with its candy- coloured buildings, cobblestone pathways and gondoliers bobbing on the edge of their graceful vessels as they pass under beautiful arched bridges.

Most visitors to Venice arrive at the Santa Lucia train station, and we chose this landmark to begin our tour on foot along the maze of canals. We found that hiring a traghetto (a less expensive, decommissioned gondola) was ideal for crossing the canal between bridges.

Our first stop was the Museo della Comunita Ebraica in the Cannaregio quarter. This old Jewish neighbourhood is where the term ghetto originated.

From here, we walked along the Strada Nova bustling with shoppers to the famous Rialto Bridge. Calle Vallaresso, Calle Frezzeria and Calle Largo Marzo XXII are the broadest and busiest shopping streets, lined with luxurious boutiques. But save your euros and crosthe Rialto bridge to San Polo where the shops are more reasonable. A short ride on a tragehetto took us across the Grand Canal again to San Marco, the heart of Venetian life for more than 1,000 years.

Piazza San Marco is a huge square accessed by narrow alleyways. At one end is St. Mark’s Basilica, decked out in gold, marble and mosaic. Palazzo Ducale is Venice’s equivalent of the American White House and Supreme Court. Ponte dei Sospiri, the bridge of sighs, is a must for an amazing view of the city.

At the end of the day, we found the fastest way back to our hotel — and easiest on our tired feet — was by vaporetto, or water bus. We sat at the front and had a wonderful view of life along the canal.

As we watched the sun set, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live here, free from traffic jams and touching history every day. Venice had stolen my disbelieving heart.