Venice is one of the world’s most romantic cities. If you are lucky enough to visit in the winter, you can enjoy empty campos and misty canals. Most days will be warm enough to have a spritz in the sunshine but you might encounter a few raindrops. Spending time in a beautiful Italy Perfect apartment during the quieter season is one of the best ways to help Venice remain a living, thriving city. Prepare for a wet day with our suggestions of what to do on a rainy day in Venice.
Did you know? In Venetian dialect, the fog that envelops the lagoon in the winter is called caigo.
A Word About Acqua Alta
Water is central to life in Venice. Venetians are used to aqua alta. This phenomenon happens usually in the autumn and winter months when a high tide coincides with a strong Scirocco or Bora wind. A regular rainy day in Venice is not what causes aqua alta. Each part of town is affected differently. Piazza San Marco is one of the lowest parts of the city and floods regularly. The high water only lasts a few hours and long elevated walkways, passarelle, are set up in areas that get higher water so you won’t get your feet wet.
Art Gazing in Palazzos
Put away your umbrella and peek into some of the glittering palaces that line the Grand Canal with a visit to some incredible collections of art. Once the home of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and garden is now filled with her personal collection of contemporary art and sculpture. The Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana have been transformed with vast soaring spaces to host exhibitions and the François Pinault’s private collection of contemporary art. The Cosmati floors on the canal level of the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti all Ca’D’oro are magnificent. In the stunning Baroque palace Ca’Rezzonico, look up to see the cherub filled Tiepolo ceilings. The Grimani family’s residence and collection of sculptures inside the the Palazzo Grimani is an intoxicating mix of classical architecture, mannerist frescoes and archeology. The Museo Corer is often overlooked despite its location on the edge of Piazza San Marco. Inside are rooms filled with art and the history of Venice and a cafe with one of the best views in town.
Stop for a Snack and a Glass of Wine
One of the many great things about Venice is cicchetti. These are small snacks that are served throughout the day with a glass of prosecco, wine or a spritz. There are lots of baccari, the Venetian word for places that serve cicchetti near the Rialto Market but they are traditionally offer only places to stand. The cozy Naranzaria serves wonderful bites of cured meat and local cheeses with views of the Grand Canal.
A Spot of Shopping
Over five centuries the grand marble palace on the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge has been a storage warehouse and barracks for German merchants, a customs house under Napoleon, and one of the cities main post offices. Today the space known now as T Fondaco dei Tedeschi has been transformed into a elegant department store with floors dedicated to Italian wine and gourmet foods, shoes, bags jewelry and cosmetics. The finest Italian and international luxury brands are represented. Another perk that is available here for serious shoppers is the onsite tax refund office.
If your energy is flagging there is a small bar on the ground floor where you can grab a quick cup of coffee and a sandwich or pastry. There is a cafe in the center of the building. Run by the Alajmo brothers of the famous Gan Caffe Quadri in Piazza San Marco the cafe is open all day so you can have a late morning pot of tea or an evening meal here.
There is also a small exhibition space on the top floor that hosts contemporary art shows. If the rain stops book a slot online for 15 minutes on the roof for a spectacular view over the Grand Canal.
Sip and Savor Piazza Life
Venice’s grandest cafes ring the only Piazza in the city. In warmer months there is outside seating and orchestras playing. All of which come with a hefty, but worth it surcharge. On a gloomy day settle into a velvet banquet in a mirror panels room at Cafe Florian, considered to be the oldest cafe in Europe, or cross over to Gran Caffe Quadri’s pastel rooms for a spritz served in a glass made in nearby Murano. If you are hungry, there is a Michelin starred restaurant upstairs.
Did you know? Piazza San Marco is the only piazza in Venice. All other public squares are called campo.