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Venice: three ways

Choose one of three sightseeing strategies for Italy's city of gondolas, from fresh-off-the-boat to honorary Venetian. Whether you're after standout sights or backstreet bars, you'll find equal windows into city life.
The domed church of Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal
COMPILED BY CATRIONA GREW AND RORY GOULDING, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CRISTIAN BONETTO AND PAULA HARDY. PHOTOGRAPHS: MATT MUNRO, GRANGER HISTORICAL PICTURE ARCHIVE/ALAMY

FOR FIRST-TIMERS

All'Arco VENETIAN £

(00 39 041 520 56 66; Calle dell'Ochialer 436, San Polo)

Search out this neighbourhood osteria for the best cicchetti (Venetian 'tapas') in town. Ingre­dients from nearby Rialto Market become mini masterpieces such as cannocchia (mantis shrimp) with pumpkin and roe, and otrega crudo (raw butterflsh) with mint-and-olive-oil marinade.

Antiche Carampane

VENETIAN £££ (antichecarampane.com;

Rio Tera delle Carampane 1911, San Polo) Hidden in the once shady lanes behind Ponte delle Tette, this culi­nary indulgence is a trick to find. Its smart, convivial crowd dines on a market-driven menu of silky crudi (raw fish/seafood), surprisingly light fritto misto (fried seafood) and caramote prawn salad with seasonal vegetables.

Basilica di San Marco (basilicasanmarco.it)

With a profusion of domes and luminous mosaics, Venice's cathe­dral is unforgettable. There's no charge to enter the church and walk the roped-off central circuit, though you need to dress modest­ly (knees and shoulders covered). Paid-entry sections include the stupendous Pala d'Oro, a gold altarpiece studded with 2,000 emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, pearls and other gem-stones, and the upstairs museum with the Quadriga, a group of four bronze horses plundered from Constantinople. Replicas of the horses also stand on the balcony overlooking Piazza San Marco

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