Eating Out

While Venice's cuisine can't quite compare with many other Italian destinations, the city does have some wonderful restaurants featuring the cuisine of the Veneto. Near the Rialto Bridge is a string of restaurants with tables along the canal, where you can enjoy the quintessential Venetian practice of dining by the canal lights. The Dorsoduro area has the highest concentration of places where locals, especially students, go to eat.

One of Venetian cuisine's most celebrated ingredients is cuttlefish and its ink. This powerful black ink serves as an ingredient and a sauce in polenta, risotto and pasta dishes. Despite the intensity in colour, the ink has an unexpectedly mild taste. Also popular in Venetian restaurants and bars is cicchetti (Italian tapas), usually made up of small servings of fish, little sandwiches, plates of olives or even very small servings of regular full-course meals.

For top quality produce, visit the street market stalls. If self-catering, the Rialto food markets are the best place to find fruit, vegetables and cheese, along with chilled coconut and a huge range of seafood, most of it fresh out of the lagoon.

Travellers looking for authentic Venetian cuisine and prices should avoid establishments with menus in six different languages displayed in the windows, and rather head away from the tourist centre to look for quaint and welcoming eateries tucked away in the city's nooks and crannies.

Shopping

Although shopping in Venice is fun, it can also be a challenge due to the crowds and the fact that the city's waterways can be difficult to navigate. You should buy items you want immediately, rather than risk not being able to find the store later on. The Rialto is the commercial core of Venice, famous for being the site where the first bridge over the Grand Canal was built. It's the best place to start your shopping adventures in the city.

Visit Venetia Studium on San Marco for fine velvets and silks of every imaginable colour, woven into subtle scarves, delicate evening bags and luxurious pillows. You can buy unique costumes and masks at Atelier Marega, where you can often see the preparation and painting of the masks. Francis Model sells locally-crafted leather goods, and for gloves and accessories go to Fanny, on Calle dei Saoneri and Campo San Polo. Handmade paper and beautiful miniature buildings, made by Moro, can also be found in Venice. Look out for handmade examples of Venetian glass (Murano glass) and fine lace sold throughout the city.

Nightlife

Outside carnival time, Venice isn't famed for a hectic nightlife. But persistent party animals will find some excitement if they look in the right places. Piazza San Marco has the most popular social venues, and the tourist information centres have current English-language schedules of special events which are very useful to travellers in search of a good time.

Cafes abound in Venice and some host live music performances, with the Rialto Bridge and St Mark's Square are good areas to start when looking for sedate evening entertainment. Nightclubs are more limited and generally more plentiful in summer as some venues close down during the colder and quieter months.

Visitors are often better off trying their luck at one of the city's casinos when looking for round-the-clock fun and entertainment, the most acclaimed is Casino Municipale di Venezia where a passport and jacket are required for entry. Otherwise, there are regular classical music concerts, with the Vivaldi Church, San Stefano, Chiesa di Vivaldi and the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista being popular venues.

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