Though the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the best museums in Italy exhibiting American and European art of the 20th century, you might find the experience a little jarring, given its location in a city so heavily associated with the High Renaissance and the baroque. Nevertheless, art aficionados will find some fascinating work here, and the galleries occupy Peggy Guggenheim’s wonderful former home, the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, right on the Grand Canal (you can access the waterfront from the main building). Guggenheim bought the mansion in 1949 and lived here, on and off, until her death in 1979 (the history of this once derelict palace is wonderfully brought to life in Judith Mackrell’s The Unfinished Palazzo.)

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Today the entire villa has been converted into galleries. Highlights include Picasso’s extremely abstract “Poet” and his more gentle “On the Beach,” several works by Kandinsky (“Landscape with Red Spots No. 2” and “White Cross”), Miró’s expressionistic “Seated Woman II,” Klee’s mystical “Magic Garden,” and some unsettling works by Max Ernst (“The Kiss,” “Attirement of the Bride”), who was briefly married to Guggenheim in the 1940s. Look for Magritte’s “Empire of Light,” Dalí’s typically surreal “Birth of Liquid Desires,” and a couple of gems from Pollock (who was especially championed by Guggenheim): his early “Moon Woman,” which recalls Picasso, and “Alchemy,” a more typical “poured” painting. The Italian Futurists are also well represented here, with a rare portrait from Modigliani (“Portrait of the Painter Frank Haviland”).

Adjacent buildings have since been added to the complex (serving as temporary exhibition space, a café, and a shop), connected to the main building by the pleasantly shady Nasher Sculpture Garden (Guggenheim is buried in the corner, marked by a simple headstone).
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Tip: It’s not a good idea to visit the Guggenheim and St. Mark’s on the same day—it’s a fairly long walk between the two. We also don’t advise seeing it on the same day as the Accademia, even though they are only 10 minutes apart; the artistic overload is likely to prove too much for even the most avid art aficionado.