Climb High in Venice for its most beautiful views.
From time to time, we like to rise up…
Yes, to rise up in our discoveries, our reflections, our readings. In Venice, it’s quite easy to rise up cul-turally, as there are so many sites to visit, unusual symbols to analyze, authentic encounters to make.
Getting lost in Venice, searching for our “Key of Solomon” as in our “Fable of Oriane and Angel in Venice” is an inexhaustible tool to open our minds to history, to people’s stories, to the geography of the lagoon and to the particular life that has developed here.
Rising up can also be taken literally; climbing above Venice’s rooftops to behold its greatness, to gain a birds’ eye view of its splendor, and to rise above the clouds and get lost!
Oriane & Angel
Angel: Oh my! We shouldn’t tell them that we like to get lost in the clouds! They’ll think we’re crazy!
Oriane: So? To truly get a feel for Venice, it’s not enough just to visit the touristy sites. You have to get lost, to question yourself, to open yourself up to the unknown! And if delirium is what it takes, if you need to climb up high, don’t hesitate… the more you do for it, the more you want to do it.
Angel: You are right, let’s live Venice as we like it. Let’s open our hearts to her, let’s examine her secrets!
Oriane: I believe that the reader who followed us up to this point deserves to be told where to go to see Venice from the sky without a plane or a hot air balloon!
Panorama from the Campanile di San Marco ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The most obvious panorama, which we immediately think of, is the Campanile di San Marco. Located at the corner of Piazza and the Piazzetta San Marco, it dominates the city with its 98m height. Before giving you access and telling you about the view, we invite you to discover the history of the Campanile di San Marco.
Angel: This elevator ride is super smooth! Oriane, do you remember which floor we need to get off on?
Oriane: We might as well go all the way to the top, I don’t need to use the restroom for now!
Angel: Yes, and I think that the view will be more beautiful up top, because midway up, there are only very small windows surrounded by bricks…
We reach the top of the Campanile di San Marco by taking an elevator and then we discover the 5 bells. The Marangona is the biggest: a bronze bell with a diameter of 180 cm whose sound would reach the Arsenal at the tip of the Castello. It rang to indicate the beginning and end of the work day. Its sisters also had their own function: the Nona (156 cm diameter), rang at noon and midnight; the Trottiera (138.5 cm diameter) announced the beginning of the council of nobles; the Pregadi (129 cm diameter) rang for senate meetings, for all religious functions, and at sunrise; and the Renghierta (116 cm diame-ter) announced the capital executions that took place between the columns of the Piazzeta.
Then we discover a breathtaking 360° view of the entire lagoon. The city, with the Grand Canal and its palaces, the meandering of its small canals and alleys, its churches, is offered to us in the foreground, while further away, the whole lagoon and its islands are revealed to us. On a clear day, you can even see the Dolomites (the Alpine mountains that separate Italy from Austria) to the north. The best time to enjoy the most beautiful light is in the morning, but a glimpse of the sunset or the night atmosphere of the Serenissima seen from above is also magical.
Of course, like any visit to Venice, the visit to the Campanile di San Marco is very popular. It therefore requires patience or for you to buy a ticket in advance.
Panorama from the Campanile of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Opposite Saint Mark’s, on the other side of Saint Mark’s Basin, is another campanile, that of the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore which is located on the island of San Giorgio, at the tip of Giudecca. You can get there by taking vaporetto line 2.
Oriane: It was a great idea to visit this church! It is really beautiful!
Angel: Let’s complete the visit by going up to the campanile. We can get up using the elevator over here.
To the north and northwest you can see Saint Mark’s Basin and its incessant flow of boats of all sizes, in the distance the docks of the Riva degli Schiavoni extended to the west by the shining facade of the Doges’ Palace near the domes of the basilica di San Marco, then the Campanile di San Marco on the other side of the Piazzeta San Marco. A little closer, you see the Punta della Dogana, with its sumptuous church of Santa Maria della Salute, which guarantees health for the city of the Doges.
Then to the south and southwest we see the roofs of the church in the foreground, a little further on the island of Giudecca and further south we see the long strip of the Lido which closes Venice’s lagoon.
Finally, to the east, at our feet, the 10th century Benedictine Monastery and further on, the island of San Pietro di Castello and its majestic basilica.
On a clear day, you can even see the lagoon and its islands to the north and northeast, and in the back-ground, the Dolomites mountain range that marks the border between Italy and Austria.
Angel: It was really beautiful… I forgot where we parked the car!
Oriane: Tell me, Angel, are you joking or has this paradisiacal vision tossed your intellectual capacities to the stars?
Angel:… Uh… I don’t understand…
Oriane: My little treasure, come down to earth… We are in Venice, on the island of San Giorgio. There are no cars in Venice. We came by vaporetto.
Oriane: Phew… Are you are back on Earth?
Angel: Ha yes… Thanks!
Panorama from the terrace of the Fontego dei Tedeschi ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Fontego dei Tedeschi is a renaissance building, rebuilt around 1508 after it was destroyed by a fire, which overlooks the Grand Canal, calle del Fontego dei Tedeschi, right next to the Rialto bridge. In the 16th century it was a palace that hosted many parties, including public masked balls that lasted three days and three nights before the beginning of Carnival.
But its name, which means “warehouse of the Germans”, dates back to the 18th century. It was a build-ing dedicated to German merchants, which served as a warehouse but also as housing. A fresco by Ti-tian adorned the land façade while the façade on the Grand Canal was decorated with a fresco by Giogione. These works can now be seen in the Ca’ d’Oro.
At the fall of the republic (1797) it passed into the public domain and was used mainly as the central office of the Italian post office. But it kept its name.
Bought by Benetton in 2008, it is now a shopping center, which hosts mostly luxury brands. Its roof was converted in 2012 into a terrace from which you can admire an almost 360° view of Venice and its la-goon. It’s the best view of the entire Grand Canal that we know of!
And since we are not the only ones who know about it, it attracts a lot of visitors while its maximum capacity is 70 people. This is why, even though the entrance is free, you need to reserve beforehand and can only spend a total of 15 minutes there. To reserve a time slot, you need to register here.
Tablets allow you to do so on site, but we recommend doing so in advance so you can choose your time slot.
Oriane: It’s time to move on, we are scheduled for noon…
Angel: Let’s go! Especially because this place could be a perfect place to do a Facebook live with our “babies”!
Oriane: What babies are you talking about? Our mascots?
Angel: Of course! We’re going to make them do the draw for the big Valentine’s Day game in Venice!
Oriane: Ok, let’s not waste time, let’s head up!
You can reach the Fontego dei Tedeschi terrace by escalator and do some window shopping on the way up. If you are in a hurry, you can go up to the top of the mall directly by elevator, admire the view inside this beautiful building and then reach the “boarding room” that gives access to the terrace. It is here that the reservation tablets are installed for those who do not wish to make a reservation beforehand, and that the final staircase to the terrace is accessible by presenting your voucher received by e-mail at the time of reservation.
Contrary to the other panoramas described, there isn’t a 360° view here, but rather 180°. But it is really worth it because of its location on the Grand Canal. It offers us a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canal at the level of the Rialto Bridge, and a panoramic view of Venice’s east (straight ahead), south (to the left) and north (to the right).
One could stay for hours admiring the northeast side of the Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal and its flow of motorboats, vaporettos and gondolas, the movements of well-fed seagulls sailing between the roof edges, the Venetian chimneys, and the Rialto Market; admiring the Venetian roofs, decorated with their fumaioli and altane; and trying to find one’s bearings: finding the location of a church or a block of houses that you liked while getting lost in the alleys of the Serenissima. But 15 minutes go by quickly, then after a last glance at the panoramic views that take us to the end of the lagoon and even to the Dolomite mountain chain, we have to go back down.
Oriane: So we didn’t have time to make the draw for the big game!
Angel: No problem! We are going to do it in the shopping center: the view is nice here too from the inner balconies!
We then installed our mascots and filled Oriane’s hat with papers with names of participants and then started our Facebook Live broadcast… To explain the rest, I have to specify, that our dress and our accessories thus arranged, were not very adapted to this place’s luxurious standing…
Oriane: Here we are, dear Facebook friends! It’s time to proceed to find out who won the Valentine’s Day in Venice draw.
Angel: We need an innocent hand, a blonde for example! Oriane, are you ready?
Un Vigile: Non pottete stare qui! E viettato, e devete andare via subito!
Oriane: So, the winner is…
Un Vigile: Devete partire subito! Altremente, dovrete pagare una muta!
Angel: The winner is…
Un Vigile: Non lo direi otre volte!
Oriane: The winner is Cyrille V.!
Un Vigile: devo darci una muta!
Oriane: Dear Facebook friends, we have to leave. The winner is Cyrille V.! See you soon!
Le vigile: i tuoi passaporti per favore!
Angel: tranquilo, andiamo!
Panorama from the Bell Tower of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on the Island of Torcello ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This panorama is not located in Venice but in its lagoon. We have chosen to talk about it here because visiting it on a clear day was a spectacular and unforgettable moment for us… Besides its beauty, it allowed us to really see what the lagoon is; to understand its development by the pre-Roman popula-tions long before the foundation of Riva-Alto, which gave birth to Rialto and Venice. This place is well worth a visit, as it takes about an hour to reach it by boat to the island of Torcello, in Venice’s northern lagoon.
A visit to the island of Torcello, including the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and its museum, is a fasci-nating experience. We invite you to discover it in our article dedicated to our feelings during our visit, the history of this island and these monuments.
The campanile of Torcello can be reached from the back of the basilica, and you have the option of buying a ticket that also allows you to visit the basilica and the Archaeological Museum of Torcello.
Angel: Oriane, do you know how tall the Campanile of Torcello is?
Oriane: I would guess about fifty meters…
Angel: Impossible! You don’t have such a good eye. I heard a lady coming back saying that there were 80 steps.
Oriane: So ?
Angel: 50 m divided by 80 steps, that would make each step more than 60 cm! The easiest way to know the size, rather than listening to the comments of a tourist who doesn’t know how to count, is to use its shadow and to apply the Pythagorean theorem!
Oriane: Come on! You know the proportion of the shadow according to the hour? Pfffff your notions of geom-etry are not going to help us… Let’s go and see… There might be some indications.
The riddle of the relationship between the number of steps and the size of the campanile was solved as soon as we started the climb. Between each group of 3 to 5 steps of the usual size, the ascent is com-pleted by an inclined plane! The height of the campanile of Torcello is well above 50 meters and the tourist who had climbed up before us was correct in her counting!
When you enter the bell tower, you have to look up to admire the elegance of its unusual architectural structure, which is typical of the towers built around the year 1000: brick arches resting on square col-umns follow one another in a staggered pattern to build the walls on a square base, thus ensuring their solidity.
You can reach the bell tower by a succession of inclined planes which makes the climb and the descent easier. Then you discover a breathtaking 360° view of the lagoon! It is from this strategic point that you can, in clear weather, scan the horizon in all directions to give the alert in case you see a pirate ship approaching! But seriously, you can see the entire lagoon and beyond: to the north and west, the coast of the Veneto and the Dolomite mountains; to the east, the strip of land of Cavallino that closes the lagoon in the continuity of the Lido of Venice; to the south, you can see the colors and the leaning bell tower of Burano, masking, in the distance, the cultivated island of San Erasmo; to the southwest, Murano and then Venice, whose silhouette you can see. But what is most striking is the nature of this lagoon that we discover at our feet. We see the marshy zones and the work of the men who, by drain-ing canals, dried the area to live there and to cultivate.
Oriane: What a view! And what tranquility…
Angel: Yes, it’s like an escape to the country, far from the agitation of Venice.
Oriane: A trip to the country, or to the sea?
Angel: Neither one or the other… A lagoon getaway! And the Lagoon is not the sea. We see it well here… But do you know if it’s fresh or salt water?
Oriane: It is where the two meet, a balance of fresh water brought by the rivers that come down from the Alps and salt water from the Adriatic Sea. With the rhythm of the tides, the cuttlefish enter from Chiogga-Pallestrina, Alberoni-Malamocco and the Lido, the “bocche di porto”.
Angel: How can cuttlefish contribute to any balance? With their ink?
Oriane: No, the “seiche” are the long waves of the Adriatic coast!
Angel: Ha, I see! So it is these “acque alte” that allow to clear the bottoms of the sediment and to maintain the balance between the salt water and the fresh water, necessary for the specific flora and fauna that have flourished there.
Oriane: That’s it… We understand better why, the MOSE(*) project is not a simple dike that would stop the sea from coming in… We must find a balance so that the acque alte persist but do not destroy the inhabited zones that have emerged, nor become responsible for a drastic rise in the salinity rate.
Angel: This project has become necessary because due to the increasing amplitude of the acque alte, because of global warming and the depth of the channels dug at the entrances for large ships, the salt level in-creases, weakening the ecosystem and the foundations of wood and stone buildings … But will it be enough?
To get around Venice you can find all the descriptions of the vaporetto lines and their schedules on our vaporetto page.
For those who want to anticipate and have a skip the line pass, it is best to buy an ACTV vaporetto pass.