MSC Cruises shore excursions can be a clever option for visiting the monuments that draw the largest cruise crowds in Venice: the Basilica di San Marco – the mausoleum of the city’s patron saint – and the Palazzo Ducale – the home of the doge and all the governing councils.
Certainly these are the most dramatic structures in Venice: the first a mosaic-clad emblem of Venice’s Byzantine origins, the second perhaps the finest of all secular Gothic buildings. But you would be rewarded for visiting every parish: a roll-call of the churches worth visiting would feature over fifty names, and a list of the important paintings and sculptures they contain would be twice as long.
Enjoy your cruise holiday in Venice walking in Piazza San Marco: the only piazza in Venice, all other squares being campi or campielli. Its parades, festivities and markets have always drawn visitors, the biggest attraction once being the trade fair known as the Fiera della Sensa, which kept the Piazza buzzing for the fortnight following the Ascension Day ceremony of the Marriage of Venice to the Sea; nowadays the Piazza is the focal point of the Carnevale shenanigans.
The coffee shops of the Piazza were a vital component of eighteenth-century high society, and the two survivors from that period – Florian and Quadri – are still the most expensive in town. The glass-blowing industry is what made Murano famous all over Europe, and today its furnaces constitute Venice’s sole surviving manufacturing zone.
Murano’s street-level premises are given over almost entirely to shops selling glasswork, and it’s difficult to walk more than a few metres on this island without being invited to step inside a showroom. Some of them have furnaces attached, and you shouldn’t pass up the chance to see these astoundingly skilful craftsmen in action.