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Venetian mask at the Carnival in Venice Italy
Saint Mark s Basilica Venice Italy
Rialto Bridge Venice Italy
Historic regatta in Venice Italy
San Mark bell tower from the Laguna Venice
Doge s Palace Venice Italy
Typical colorful houses in Venice Italy
Fenice Theatre Venice Italy
Small canal leading to San Marco bell tower Venezia Italy
Inside the La Fenice Theatre Venice Italy
Murano island Venice Italy
Historic building facing the canal Venice Italy
Musicians during the Carnival Venice Italy
Fresh seafood in Venice Italy
A Gondoliere on his typical boat in Venice Italy
Small bridge on the canal Venice Italy
One of Venice's many canals Italy
Bridge of Sighs Venice Italy
Sunset on the Laguna Venice Italy
Doge s Palace Venice Italy
Saint Mark s Basilica detail Venice Italy
Detail of Saint Mark s Basilica Venice Italy
Gondolas on the canal in Venice Italy
View on the Laguna Venice Italy
View on the Gran Canal Venice Italy
One of Venice's many canals Italy
Historical building facing the canal Venice Italy
Historic buildings on the Gran Canal Venice Italy
Sailing on the Gran Canal Venice Italy
Small market in Venice historic main island Italy
Colorful boat on the canal Venice Italy
Walking on one of the many Calle Venice Italy
Risotto al Nero di Seppia in Venice Italy
Small canal in Venice Italy
Traditional liver with onions in Venice Italy


Comprised of 118 masses of land in a lagoon, Venice (Venezia) is connected to the mainland city of Mestre by a thin causeway. The city is divided into six ancient administrative districts or sestieri: Cannaregio, Castello, San Marco, Dorsoduro, San Polo, and Santa Croce, with the Canal Grande snaking throughout. You can walk to most places in Venice itself, and take a ride on a vaporetto (waterbus) to any of the islands. The vaporetto network runs regular service around the city and out to most of the islands.


The gondola has been a part of Venice since the 11th century. With its slim hull and flat underside, gondolas are perfectly adapted to negotiating narrow, shallow canals. In the old days, there were no stone wharves and only a few wooden landing stages, so Venetian boats were built with flat bottoms to be dragged up onto the land with relative ease. Conditioned by their surrounding elements, the Venetian people row in a standing position, looking forward as one does when walking.


Gondolas were once displays of multicolored brilliance. Legend has it that their lavish reds and purples turned to black when the Plague struck. To stop further contamination from spreading throughout the disease-infested canal waters, the wooden boats were supposedly coated with tar and pitch. Some say that a more likely story, however, is that in 1562 it was decreed that all gondolas should be black to stop people from making an ostentatious show of their wealth.

Founded by Roman fisherman, Venice supplemented its gondolas with sea-bound ships in the 11th century, soon gaining a monopoly on Eastern trade: gold, silks, spices, and coffee. With the conquest of Constantinople in 1203, Venice gained control of parts of the Adriatic, the Greek Island, modern Turkey, and mainland Italy.


The immense wealth of the city was celebrated in art and architecture throughout the city. Over the last centuries, Venice switched its livelihood to a new trade: tourism.

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