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You want romance? Forget Jared, forget Fannie Mae. Hop on a flight to Marco Polo airport in Venice (or better yet, take the train in to Santa Lucia station, because, seriously, trains are romantic, and you may as well set the mood off right). For starters, Venice is definitely more memorable than some diamond-crusted heart-shaped pendant. That’s not reason enough? Well, let me elaborate …

  • A trip to Venice is a trip back in time. It’s old-world Europe at its best– the city’s centuries-old history lends an unbeatable charm.
  • Venice has a beautiful architectural fusion of Roman and Byzantine influence. From Doge’s Palace to Scala Contarini del Bovolo, St. Mark’s Basilica to the Rialto, you’ll drink in the beauty around every corner. How can you go wrong?
  • It’s an island– or, rather, 118 tiny islands linked by bridges, set off from the rest of the country by an expansive canal. When you’re here, you’ll leave reality behind on the mainland.
  • Venice is quaint — the cobblestone streets, canals, and complete absence of cars combine for this incredible trifecta — you’ll want to immediately sell your car once you return home (if you return home).
  • It’s incredibly secluded, if you stay away from the tourist hot spots. Sure, the train station is overcrowded, and Piazza San Marco, but walk a few blocks, turn the corner, and suddenly you’re alone.
  • Those beautiful wrought iron lampposts on the piazza.
  • Cicchetti. Rick Steves will not steer you wrong. We set off on a giro d’ombra (a fancy name for a pub crawl) on our second night in Venice, sampling delicious Italian munchies and vino (the cicchetti is the origin of Italian tapas). We found ourselves in some very hard-to-find baccari, rubbing elbows with the locals, getting more and more lost as the night wore on. 
  • Speaking of getting lost, it’s unavoidable. The buildings are tall, the streets are narrow, and there are very few wide open spaces to use as points of reference. Embrace it and enjoy it. Getting lost is part of the intrigue.
  • Venice is quiet, due to the absence of cars, and the absence of people, and the tall buildings that frame the streets. Good thing it’s walkable.  
  • It seems the best hotel rooms are furnished with beautiful Rococo pieces. I don’t care if you prefer clean lines– by staying someplace modern, you’ll miss out on the complete experience. We stayed at the Hotel Antico Doge and loved it.
  • Harry’s Bar. Hemingway frequented this place, and all those American ex-pats from the 1920s who exuded romance. Just be sure to dress nicely and expect to pay $10 for a cup of coffee.
  • Peroni. We spent a day walking the city, going nowhere in particular, stopping periodically at bars and cafes, and now any time I drink Peroni, I think of Venice. I’d recommend enjoying a Peroni at La Rivista, in the Dorsoduro, near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
  • The dueling bands on Piazza San Marco, and accordion music.
  • Gondola ride for two. Need I say more?
  • It’s fleeting, a sinking island. Someday, Venice may be our Atlantis. See it now before it fades into oblivion.

Venice is romance. More than Paris, more than New York. It’s compact and old and complicated and full of mystery. Explore it. Experience it. Just be sure to do it with someone you love.