St Mark’s, Venice: hip to be square

St Mark's Basilica, Venice

After meandering through the labyrinth of narrow streets and winding canals of Venice, stepping into the vast space of St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is truly breathtaking.

A large open area beautifully framed by splendid buildings, a palace and even a tower or two, this is one area of Venice you truly must see.

St Mark’s Square is home to the ornate Basilica di San Marco (St Mark’s Basilica) whose initial construction began in the 800s, before being rebuilt one century later after having burned down in a rebellion. St Mark’s ornate façade features splendid mosaics added in the 13th century, as well as a collection of pillars, artworks and other precious items added over time as they were bought to Venice’s shores by returning merchants.

Next to St Mark’s Basilica is the early-Renaissance clock tower (Torre dell’Orologio), which has truly stood the test of time since its completion in 1499.

Then there is St Mark’s Campanile (bell tower), whose history is almost as fascinating as the views offered from the top.

Also in St Mark’s Square are several historical cafés, including the Florian, arguably the most famous coffee shop in Venice. It is certainly the oldest, having been inaugurated on the 20th December, 1720. Whilst it was originally called ‘Venezia Trionfante’ (Triumphant Venice), it soon became known amongst locals as the Florian in reference to the owner, Floriano Francesconi. Don’t think you won’t pay for the experience – coffee and a biscuit can set you back a good 20 euro! You can also have the full silver service of tea and scones as you take in the café’s beautiful frescoes and look out over the stunning piazza.

It’s not only visitors to Venice that flock to St Mark’s Square – there are also thousands of very social pigeons that will perch along your outstretched arms should you let them.

By night, St Mark’s piazza fills with people wanting to dine or just enjoy a glass of wine at one of the restaurants and bars who place tables in the square. Many offer live music and it is certainly a great way to pass an evening, listening to classical or jazz music fill the air, letting the atmosphere (and perhaps the wine) go to your head as you relax and enjoy the stunning historical surroundings in one of the most charming cities in the world.


To see the sites of Venice with a great tour guide, we have a great Venice tour discount package. In one glorious afternoon, have a ride in a gondola on our small-group Original Gondola Tour. Visit St Mark’s on a guided tour and have our expert tour guide take you on a tour of the Doge’s Palace. Conclude your day with a relaxing ride on the Grand Canal in a motor launch on the small-group Grand Canal tour.

These Venice tours are also part of our super-discounted Grand Italy Tour discounted tour package including small-group tours in Rome and small-group tours in Florence.

To explore other areas of Italy, we have great tours in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Visit the Artviva Tours website for more wonderful things to see and do in Italy (besides, of course, just meeting the lovely Artviva staff!), or email us on for more information.

The meeting point for our Original Venice Tour – a small-group guided tour of St Mark’s.

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  1. ive recently ruetrned from a month travelling round italy, it was incredible, venice is my favourite city in the world, its incredible, you absolutely must go to the peggy guggenheim museum, its near the accademia, its something most people dont do but its unmissable, the best thing to do in venice is just wander, you always end up somewhere interesting in rome i wouldnt bother using the metro, its more hassle than its worth, romes not very big and there are statues and fountains on every corner that you miss if you get the metro to and from places.

  2. A friend of mine asked if they could go on a scooter from Venice to Rome???? YOU ARE CRAZY! i said. It is not possible to rent a scooter only in Rome, if you are so brave (i’m italian and live in rome but i’m afraid to ride a scooter here, is really dangerous)Plus, by law you cannot ride a scooter on highway, and you don’t need a scooter in Venice. So my suggestion was, walk in Venice, catch a train to rome (if u really want to drive, but i prefer the train).

  3. St. Mark’s a great Venice attraction. If you travel to Venice and St. Mark’s isn’t in your itinerary, you’ll be missing a lot. It’s a great place to meet new people and enjoy a great view of the square.