Piazza San Marco
Venice's Top 11 Free Sights
ABOVE: A view of the Piazza and Campanile di San
Marco from the arcades that surround the square.
Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark's Square,
is one of the world's great squares. It's also a honeypot for swarms of
daytrippers and other tourists, but don't let that bother you: The square is
vast, the crowds are good-natured, and backpackers coexist peacefully with the
well-heeled tourists who enjoy overpriced drinks and orchestral music at the café
Venetians claim that pigeons outnumber the tourists. Certainly there are plenty
of them, although their numbers have dwindled since the city began enforcing an
ordinance against feeding the birds. (Note: Rick Steves suggests letting pigeon
poop dry before brushing it off; this may work on clothing, but it's less
effective when the poop is sliding down a balding scalp.)
fall through spring, the square and the neighboring Piazzetta
occasionally resemble a wading pool as acqua
storm tides force pedestrians to put on boots or keep their feet dry on
elevated walkways. The flooding doesn't last long, so if you see the
waters rising, put on your wellies or come back when the tide recedes.
Don't picnic or sunbathe on the steps in the arcades that
surround the square, or you'll be shooed away by enforcers from the city
If you have time and money to spare, consider visiting the
Campanile or bell tower, the Torre dell'Orologio or clock tower, and the
Museo Correr beneath the banner at the arcaded end of the piazza.
Basilica di San Marco
About the author:
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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Top photo copyright © Velsilvio.