With a reputation as one of Europe’s most romantic cities and world-famous for its system of 150 interconnecting canals, Venice, Italy, sprawls across 117 small islands in northeast Italy along the Adriatic Sea.
The city boasts a rich history, though the exact beginnings of Venice are unclear. The prevailing belief is that it was founded in AD 422 when the Romans fled the Goths and other barbarians. Venice was a major sea power during the Middle Ages, as well as a staging area for the Crusades. It served as an important center of commerce trading silk, rice and spices between the 13th and 17th centuries. Venice was an art center, even developing its own tradition of painting called the Venetian School from the 14th to 18th centuries.
Today the economy is based on tourism and industry, and Venice is well-known for its Murano glass and lace production. Their reputation for world class art continues in modern times as Venice is home to the world’s oldest film festival, the Venice Film Festival – in existence since 1932. It’s still a popular location of films, novels and other artistic endeavors.
With a population around 270,000, Venice today is comprised mostly of Roman Catholics and many of its famous tourist attractions include churches and palaces. One of the most famous is St. Mark’s Basilica, a magnificent church that is covered by 40,000 square feet of mosaics. Doge’s Palace is the former home of Venice’s early rulers called Doges. The Grand Canal, 2 miles long, is the major water-traffic canal and a popular tourist destination. Venice hosts a festival known as Carnevale each year about 40 days before Lent. The party is filled with lavish parades, extravagant costumes, ornamental masks and much debauchery. St. Mark’s Square (Piazzo San Marco) is a big tourist spot as well.
Venice is the largest car-free area in Europe. Most transportation is by foot or by water. The gondola is the traditional Venetian mode of transportation, but is used mostly by tourists today. Waterbuses (vaporetti) are more common and better priced; water taxis are another more expensive option.
Venice is made up of 6 sections and enjoys a humid subtropical climate with very warm, humid summers and cool winters. It’s known for its seafood, polenta and rice. Approximately 50,000 tourists a day visit Venice, Italy.
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