THIS Is The 2017 Trip You Need To Take

Venice, Italy might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of European cool, but this seaside city is more than just a pretty postcard. Beyond its canals and pastel-dotted streets is an Italian city like no other — with its own history, its own food, and a classical music scene that could make Prague and Paris reach for the world's smallest violin.

In fact, it's such a musical destination that Mozart In The Jungle filmed some of its third season there, and it's making us want to go. Set against a backdrop of glistening Venetian waters and storied musical venues, the show confirms that Venice is basically #vacationgoals. So we talked to some of the artsiest locals about some of the best locations from the show — including an infamous opera house, the city's stunning surrounding lagoons, and a square that's much more than just a square — and other things to see, eat, and do. Get their picks below.

The Neighborhoods

The Castello area is one of the six sestieri (or subdivisions) in Venice, and much of it remains close to its working-class roots. According to Silvana Di Puorto — a Venice-based digital PR manager, food writer, and luxury travel expert — it's here, on the far eastern end of the city, where you can smell, feel, and experience "the real Venice," with its picturesque waterfront and quiet fishermen.

Santa Croce, another sestieri, is one of the primary parts of the city for car travel, with several bus stations and car lots to welcome tourists. The borough's also home to a number of attractions, including famous churches, The Museum of Textiles and Costumes, and the famed Papadopoli Gardens — an ideal (and breathtaking) spot to unwind and get some fresh air after a day of sightseeing.

And if island-hopping is your idea of a good time? Well, you're in luck. The lagoon that envelops Venice is home to several surrounding islands that residents like to frequent, including Mazzorbo, Burano, and Torcello — all traversable by boat. Exploring these sleepy and often working-class islands is on some level key to understanding and appreciating the beauty of the city.
PHOTO: VIA @VBASSETTI.
The Venetian Lagoon.
The Music Scene

"Venice is the capital of classical music," says Di Puorto, and it's also arguably the birthplace of opera. "There are so many composers, singers, and musicians who came out of here, and that's helped make Venice so relevant in the music world today."

One of the most popular places to hear this music is Teatro La Fenice, a renowned opera house that's undoubtedly reached icon status. "As a music and art fanatic, I can say La Fenice is my absolute favorite in the city. It's just so historical," says Di Puorto, who also sings the praises of smaller theaters such as The Goldoni and Teatro Malibran.

The decor of Teatro La Fenice is also something worth noting. Rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in the 1990s, the present theater is a marvel, with a bright interior motif (inspired by the original theater) and a breathtaking amount of detail.
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PHOTO: VIA @CREOLE974.
Teatro La Fenice.
The Must-Sees

And then there are the sights you just have to cross off your list while you’re in town. "I generally try to avoid tourist attractions, but there's something about the Piazza San Marco that seems utterly timeless," says Elizabeth Minchilli, an Italian-based travel blogger and creator of the Eat Italy app. Known in English as St. Mark's Square, this spot might be inherently touristy, but it has a rich history. For centuries, it's been the social, religious, and political epicenter of the city, the main attraction. Tourists and locals alike flock to the square daily; it's home to a number of souvenir shops, world-renowned restaurants and cafes (more on that later), and live performances.
PHOTO: VIA @ANNASABATINI_.
Piazza San Marco.
And that bridge you've seen on Instagram countless times? It's called the Accademia Bridge, and it's one of the most photographed places in the world. It's also a hop, skip, and jump away from Palazzo Franchetti, a palace turned museum that frequently houses cultural events and art exhibits. The view isn't bad either.

Another can't-miss palace turned museum is Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale). It's pretty much the epitome of the architectural glamour the city's famous for, celebrated for its Venetian gothic style, sprawling courtyard, and Renaissance influences. According to Di Puorto, Doge's Palace is still the political heart of the city, even though it no longer houses public offices and instead serves primarily as a popular public museum. Tours will walk you through some of the famous rooms, which include the former meeting places of the cabinet and council of the Republic of Venice before it fell in 1797. (Pro tip: You can book a private tour of the palace's infamous prisons, which aren't included in regular public admission.)

The Food

In terms of cuisine, you can expect classic Italian deliciousness, but pasta isn't the starch of choice in Venice. Rather, rice and polenta are served with the coastal town's fish-based dishes. You can sample some of the best seafood near the Piazza San Marco where the city's most popular restaurants congregate.
PHOTO: VIA @ALEXFIAMUA.
Hotel Cipriani.
"Steps away from the piazza is Do Leoni, a restaurant with an amazing terrace overlooking the lagoon," says Di Puorto. Another popular lunch destination is Cipriani, a landmark hotel in walking distance of the piazza. Other restaurants frequently recommended by locals include Antiche Carampane, Al Covo, Anice Stellato, Ai Promessi Sposi, The Egg (which sits atop the historical Hotel Danieli), and Al Gatto Nero, all of which are known for Venice's fresh seafood. And trust us, it's really fresh. Squid ink pasta, creamed codfish, and fried crabs — served whole — are dinnertime staples. If you're in the mood for more modest fare, Di Puorto recommends pizza from Rossopomodoro.

All in all, Venice is a city that's almost precious, housing centuries worth of ancient monuments and historically significant structures. And for the millions of people who visit every year and continue to recognize it for its unparalleled beauty and vast history, it's one of the most alluring destinations in the world.

Want to see even more of Venice? Stream
season 3 of Mozart in the Jungle, which is available on Amazon Prime Video now. No passport required.