Part of the mystery and allure of Venice is that this Italian lagoon sanctuary has remained remarkably intact and unchanged for many centuries. With its magical alleyways, romantic bridges and golden domes, Venice seems to literally rise from the waters. This fairytale city is best known for its lagoon thoroughfare, the Grand Canal, flanked on both sides by stunning examples of Venetian architecture. Both the Basilica di San Marco and Palazzo Ducale stand in all their glory at the end of the canal.
The best way to see the canal and the tiny waterways that break off from it, is through the primary form of transportation in Venice since the 12th century - the gondola, preferably steered by a gondolier in traditional garb. Venice, however, is not all about water. Hiding behind the glorious palazzos that line the banks of the canal are charming backstreets, where each building seems to be a work of art unto itself. Intimate churches hug stone homes along cobbled walkways. In the heart of Venice, you will find one of the city’s six sestieri (boroughs), San Marco, home to some of the city’s famous sites, such as St Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and many famous churches. There is no hastening a visit to Venice. Tourists rush around trying to fit in just some of the many spectacular places to see, but the true magic of this lies in the true magic of Venetian moments – strong coffee in a sunny square, dramatic sunsets from the roof of an ancient church, lunch with good friends in a crowded bar or listening to the slap-slap of the gondolier’s oars on the water.
Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.