The ancient art of Venetian bookbinding is exhibited at Legatoria Polliero, where you can pick up beautiful leather-bound volumes and stationery (Campo dei Frari; San Polo; 00 39 041 528 51 30).
Eat and drink
At Trattoria Alla Madonna, white-jacketed waiters serve up local favourites such as grilled fish, razor clams in white wine, or cuttlefish eggs in this long-standing Venetian favourite (mains from £20).
The cosy, wood-panelled Ristoteca Oniga does some of the best seafood in town, including giant tortelloni (above) with shrimp and chanterelle mushrooms (mains from £15).
Everything served at Vecio Fritolin is bought fresh each day from Rialto Market, before being turned into inventive concoctions that take traditional Venetian dishes to new heights. The langoustine and courgette spaghetti has attained legendary status among locals (mains from £12).
A favourite with Rialto Market traders and customers since 1462, Cantina Do Mori has a great selection of wines along with plates of cicchetti bar snacks (glasses of wine from £1.50; Sotoportego dei Do Mori; 00 39 041 522 54 01).
Named after the off-duty postmen who used to visit, Ai Postali is a food and wine bar where impromptu jazz and late-night chat are order of the day (glasses of ombra wine £1.80; Fondamenta Rio Marin 821; no telephone).
Obillok is one of Venice’s grandest bars, with Baroque floral flourishes, aristocratic red chairs, and beer served in tilted glasses. The macchiatone (short coffees) are among the best in town (coffee from £1.20; Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo; no telephone).
A former convent in the heart of Rialto Market, Pensione Guerrato is a peaceful haven. Some rooms feature original wall and ceiling frescoes, with views over the markets and Grand Canal (from £80).
With lavish, Venice Carnival-themed rooms, welcoming staff and fantastic views of passing gondoliers, Locanda Orseolo, near St Mark’s Square, is a great place to stay (from £105).
Elegant rooms decorated in the style of 18th-century Venice and marble bathrooms make Hotel Ca’ Dogaressa a sophisticated choice. It’s situated near both the Venice Ghetto and Venezia Santa Lucia railway station (from £125).
Venice can be reached from a number of UK airports, including Gatwick, Heathrow, East Midlands, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds Bradford, with carriers including BMI (from £75), easyJet (from £85) and BA (from £100). Flights to Verona leave from East Midlands, Gatwick, Stansted and Southampton airports with BMI, Flybe, Ryanair and easyJet (from £80). With no commercial airport, there are no direct flights from the UK to Padua, but Venice and Verona are both within easy reach of the city by train.
Train services from Venice Mestre railway station to Verona take an hour to two hours (from £17). Trains from Venice to Padua’s Padova railway station take from 25 to 45 minutes (from £12).