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Venice, the city of canals, stretches across numerous small islands in a marshy lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in the northeast of Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers.

Venice is notable for its elective, Republican form of government, with the Duke or Doge of Venice being elected by the Venetian Senate.

Venice was an important trading port and sea power. Ventians war galleys were particularly feared and 25 (at times 1000 were kept on standy in the Arsenale to help keep the cities merchant vessels safe. In the mid 15th century Venice had an estimated 3000 merchant vessels.

During the Crusades, Venice was a staging point on the way to the Holy Land for many Crusaders.

Venice was captured in the late 18th century by Napolean and handed over to Austria in the same century. It was later lost to Italy then regained by Austria and then finally became part of Italy permanently in 1866.

Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Othello are set in this city.

Tourist Notes

  • Outside the Arsenale are four stone lions -- two were "appropriated" from Constantinople: one still bears a runic inscription on its shoulder, although this is now barely visible.
  • The Basilica is named for Saint Mark, whose relics mysteriously "turned up" in Venice. This is the third Basilica: the first is on a detached island closer to the shore, and the second burned down (the only remaining picture of it being on a mosaic in one of the domed entrances to the present building).
  • If you like the architecture, a craftsman called Giovanni Moro makes cast-resin miniature replicas which are widely on sale. Beware, however, of fakes, which are of inferior quality: Moro signs his on the rear, and has a workshop/gallery shop between San Polo and Dorsoduro quarters to the W of the Grand Canal
  • For the budget conscious, taking the traghetti across the Grand Canal is a cheaper (if somewhat disturbing trip as you stand up in the boat) alternative to the gondola which is rather expensive.

Famous Venetians

  • Marco Polo - explorer
  • Giovanni Bellini - 16th century painter
  • Titian - 16th century painter who lived in Venice for much of his life

External Links