Venice, Italy is located in the northern part of the country and is part of the Padua-Venice Metropolitan area with a total population of 1.6 million. The city consists of 118 islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon. It was a major maritime area during the Middle Ages and the starting point for the Crusades as well as playing an important role in the silk, grain and spice trade from the 13th to the 17th centuries. It was also an important center for art during the Italian Renaissance.
Experts believe that refugees from Roman cities originally populated Venice who wanted to escape the invasions of the Germanic tribes. The Huns under Atila attacked it in the 5th century. From the 9th to the 12th centuries it developed as a city state and became a center of power and trade because of its strategic position at the head of the Adriatic. It carried out an extensive trade with the Byzantine and Muslim worlds and by the end of the 1400’s it was one of the most prestigious cities in Europe. The leading families of the city competed with one another in building grand palaces and supported the works of many of the greatest artists of all time, such as Leonardo da Vinci.
Venice is famous all over the world for its canals, which are the main mode of transportation in the city. About 150 canals and over 400 bridges connect the islands. In the older part of the city, the canals form the main method of transportation and everyone gets around the island on foot. During the 19th century, the railway came to Venice and in the 20th century a causeway for vehicle traffic was built. However, beyond the entry points, you will not see any cars.
The classic Venetian boat is called the gondola and although this was used in the past, today it is mainly used for tourists and for weddings and other special occasions. Motorized waterbuses handle the traffic between the islands and there are many privately owned boats. Foot passenger ferries, called the traghetti, service those people crossing in places where there are no bridges. There are watertaxis that travel on these canals as well.
Venice is divided into six sections, called the sestieri. These sections are:
* San Polo
* Santa croce
* San Maro
On every gondola in the city you will see a masthead that looks like a Doge’s hat. On this hat there are six notches. Five of which point forwards and one points backwards. They represent the six sections of the city, with the backwards one representing the Giudecca, which is part of the Dorsoduro.
There are numerous landmarks in the city, such as museums, palaces and churches. In the Venetian countryside, you will see many villas, which were once the homes of the rich and famous of the city. The Venice Art Biennale is one of the most important events in the world on the arts calendar. Venice Lido is a beach district only 20 minutes by boat from San Marco. This island has the nickname of “Island of Tranquility” and is the setting of the Venice movie festival.