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Once you arrive in picturesque Ravenna on an Italy cruise, you have some options: Head north to Venice, west to Bologna, or explore the history and beauty of Ravenna itself. Ravenna is famous for its spectacular mosaics from the 5th and 6th century that are found in cathedrals, palaces, and public buildings everywhere.
In Venice, you’ll find a canal-filled city that is equal parts gritty and romantic, known as a fishermen’s town turned cultural hub. Venice is popular for honeymooners and international tourists alike, filling the elaborate, sinuous system of canals with the buzz of activity. Like Rome and Florence, there’s a magic to the city’s energy that sweeps you up in it, whether you’re exploring St. Mark’s Square on foot or enjoying a gondola ride along the Grand Canal before sailing on one of our cruises from Ravenna.
Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is considered the gastronomic center of Italy. It’s here that you’ll find some of the world’s best wines, prosciutto, cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Stroll the medieval town’s many photogenic porticoes until you arrive at Piazza Maggiore, the huge and charming public square where you can stop for a gelato or an espresso and people watch.
You’ll immediately recognize St. Mark’s Square when you arrive in Venice. After all, it’s one of the city’s most iconic vistas, whether you’re stopping along the Grand Canal, visiting its namesake basilica, or strolling the area’s variety of eateries and shops. St. Mark’s Square is the heart of the city, so you can’t miss it while you’re here on a Venice cruise.
The Rialto Bridge crosses the Grand Canal, and it’s one of Venice’s most enduring landmark sights. Built in the 16th century, the bridge is a magical place where you’ll truly feel like you’re living in an Italian postcard.
The Venetian Gothic legacy is intact because of the architecturally stunning Doge’s Palace, filled with Italian art, high ceilings, and religious iconography that art history buffs can’t miss. You can take an audio tour of the museum or simply stroll the courtyard.
To skip a gondola ride in Venice is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s an unmissable experience no matter if it’s your first time in Venice or you’ve seen the city many times. After being on cruises from Venice, there’s nothing more charming than seeing the city from a nimble, tiny gondola.
On the island of Burano, just a short boat ride away, is a fishing village lined with colorful houses where the area’s lace-making has earned an international reputation. Come for the shopping, meet local artisans, and stay for a casual lunch at one of the island’s many quaint restaurants.
Located between Venice and Florence, Bologna is a must-visit on your Italian cruise. This city has it all—spectacular food tours, museums, art galleries, medieval towers, and the world’s oldest university, built in 1088. Stroll through its charming Piazza Maggiore, home to the impressive Fountain of Neptune. Visit nearby Motor Valley, where the finest Italian cars are made—Lamborghini, Ferrari, Ducati, Pagani, and Maserati. Or, simply enjoy a spectacular meal in the gastronomic center of Italy.
Venice is a foodie’s destination through and through. Restaurants and bars wind along the canal, and an unhurried approach is what makes a long lunch so satisfying here. Like the rest of Italy, you’re better off eating dinner a little later in the evening as the Italians do. Grab a spritz or a tall glass of wine and taste the region’s typical pasta entrees and plates of fresh Adriatic fish. Enjoy raw fish, crudo, as the Italians say, if you’re feeling daring. The coffee culture here is just as strong as in Rome or Florence, and you shouldn’t leave Italy without enjoying a coffee or espresso for just a euro or two. Remember—no coffee with milk after 11am. The Italians consider it bad for digestion.
Venice has historically been Italy’s most romantic destination, and its geographic quirks and peculiarity of how the city developed over the centuries only add to its photogenic charm. Its winding streets, built around the canals and lagoons, predate human impact on the area. Historic basilicas date back to the Middle Ages, when the city became a cultural touchstone and trade hub.
The departure port of Ravenna is located approximately two hours and 30 minutes south of Venice and only one hour from the beautiful city of Bologna, known as the culinary capital of Italy.
Getting around in Venice is romantic in any setting, but a gondola ride along its intricate system of canals is a must during your time here. Boats and water taxis are a popular mode of transportation and taking a traghetto, or gondola ride, only costs a couple of euros per person. Public transit in Venice is also an option, including boats and a monorail system. If you’re sticking around the central sights, walking will do, too.
Shoppers will find that Venice is a pretty paradise for retail, artisanal goods, boutiques, and high-end glasswares. It’s not hard to get a feel for Venice’s shopping scene, which includes leather goods like purses, belts, and more. There are, of course, the standard tourist shacks and shiny items highlighting Venice’s attractions, like the Grand Canal and the Bridge of Sighs.
While traveling to Italy, you’ll use the euro as the official currency. You’ll notice Visa and Mastercard are the two most commonly accepted credit cards during your Venice cruise. A servizio, or tip, is typically included in your bill at restaurants. If you take a gondola ride, be sure to tip the gondolier or water taxi provider. When you’re enjoying a coffee in Italy, leave behind a few cents as a tip.