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Venice


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Venice is a unique city in the world: it is made up of 118 of small islands in a lagoon on the edge of the Adriatic sea in the north of Italy. Venice, like few other cities, is infused with a sense of mystery and romance. You can explore the historic centre of the city easily by foot and by caching vaporetti and motoscafi, the boats that act as buses around the lagoon.  Many tourists like to spurge and take a gondola, the particular ancient boat that locals usually use for weddings.The history of Venice is has been tied to the sea because it built up the most powerful navy of the time to dominate the spice trade with the east and became an independent city state, the "Repubblica Marinara," in the 9thcentury.You can  observe the continual reminders of Venice's glorious past and its unique relationship with the east just by walking through the streets and alleyways, and over numerous bridges and canals. The architecture is a distinct combination of Eastern and Western traditions.

We can start from Piazza San Marco: the square is set on the  Canal Grande and it is the largest in Venice. It is the center of historic Venice and is still a popular meeting place for Venetians and tourists. Near the water there are two granite Egyptian columns which were stolen in the 1170s with the symbols of the Serenissima (the Venetian Republic) to protect the city from the sea. There are on the a winged lion which symbolizes Saint Mark and the young man killing the dragon, symbolizing Saint Teodoro.

Saint Mark's Basilica, consecrated in 1094, was built originally to be a private chapel to the Doge, or Duke, of Venice to preserve the body of Saint Mark the Evangelist which the Venetians stole from Alexandria. The famous horses of St. Marks that graced the façade were stolen from Constantinople in 1204and they are now housed in the basilica's Marciano Museum. the church is overflowing with gold and mosaics and various treasures thanks to an ancient Venetian law requiring merchants to bring back prizes for the basilica from their trips to the East. On the San Marco square there is also the San Marco Campanile, it is a replica of the original bell tower built in 912 as a light house for the numerous ships in the port and it collapsed in 1902. On the top there is the statue of the archangel Gabriel who points the way.

Then we can go to Palazzo Ducale the home of the Doge and the centre of the Venetian government. The outside of the building, begun in 1309 and redone done in the 1570s after fires in gothic in style. On the lower colonnade are numerous statues which crown the columns and are considered some of the finest examples of Italian medieval sculpture.  The rooms are covered by outstanding frescoes such as Veronese's Rape of Europa and  Paradiso by Tintoretto the worlds largest oil painting.

Leaving S. Marco, and going across the Grand Canal, one finds Venice's finest art gallery the Galleria dell' Accademia with works by Bellini,  Carpaccio, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, Veronese and Tintoretto. A Part of the Accademia is made up of the former church of Santa Maria della Carità and includes the Presentation of the Virgin by Titian. Not far away we find the Peggy Guggenheim Collection with just 20th century works by an international array of artists, including Picasso, Chagall and Pollock.

To feel a real Venician.  Venice is especially enchanting, although crowded, during the season of Carnevale, when tourists and residents alike flood the streets in period costumes and beautiful masks enjoying the city wide party.  Venice has been famous for this celebration that takes place the last weeks before Lent for centuries.  Throughout the year one can enjoy different ancient festivals and rituals that the Venetians continue to keep alive, although often for the benefit of their visitors.

A journey within a journey. Venice has been famous for its crystal glass work since the art was rediscovered there in the Middle Ages, giving the city a monopoly and another source of wealth.   Glass workers were a highly respected class and given special privileges to prevent them from selling the secrets of their work abroad.  In 1291 Venice moved all the glass works to the island of Murano since the risks of fire were very high.  Today you can take a boat there and watch as the glass is hand blown in the different workshops, which can be very interesting.

Do not miss: to have an aperitif with the original Spritz, the drink with white or Prosecco wine iced and other liqueur as Aperol or Campari and a slice of orange. It was invented in Venice as a variant of the Austrian Spritzer made with soda water ad now it is very popular. To have an espresso in Caffè Florian the oldest Cafè in Itlay, from 1720 in Piazza San Marco with coffee, tea and spices from the East for the first time.

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