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—  Comune  —
Comune di Venezia
A collage of Venice: at the top left is the Piazza San Marco, followed by a view of the city, the Grand Canal, and the interior of La Fenice and finally the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

Coat of arms
Venice is located in Italy
Location of Venice in Italy
Coordinates: 45°26′15″N 12°20′9″E / 45.4375°N 12.33583°E / 45.4375; 12.33583Coordinates: 45°26′15″N 12°20′9″E / 45.4375°N 12.33583°E / 45.4375; 12.33583
Country Italy
Region Veneto
Province Venice (VE)
Frazioni Chirignago, Favaro Veneto, Mestre, Marghera, Murano, Burano, Giudecca, Lido, Zelarino
 - Mayor Massimo Cacciari (Democratic Party)
 - Total 414.57 km2 (160.1 sq mi)
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2009-04-30)
 - Total 270,660
 Density 652.9/km2 (1,690.9/sq mi)
 - Demonym Veneziani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 30100
Dialing code 041
Patron saint St. Mark the Evangelist
Saint day 25 April
Website Official website
Venice and its Lagoon*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Venice in summer, with the Rialto Bridge in the background.
State Party  Italy
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi
Reference 394
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Venice (Italian: Venezia About this sound listen , IPA: [veˈnεttsia], Venetian: Venesia) is a city in northern Italy, the capital of the region Veneto, with a population of 271,367 (census estimate 1 January 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). The city historically was the capital of an independent nation. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges" and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man".[1] Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.[2]

The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000[3] in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon.

The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain and spice trade) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. Venice is also famous for its musical, particularly operatic, history, and its most famous son in this field is Antonio Vivaldi.




While there are no historical records that deal directly with the obscure and peripheral[4] origins of Venice, tradition and the available evidence has led several historians to agree that the original population of Venice comprised refugees from Roman cities such as Padua, Aquileia, Altino and Concordia (modern Portogruaro) and from the undefended countryside, who were fleeing successive waves of Germanic invasions and Huns.[5] Some late Roman sources reveal the existence of fishermen on the islands in the original marshy lagoons. They were referred to as incolae lacunae ("lagoon dwellers"). The traditional founding is identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Jacopo at the islot of Rialto (Rivoalto, "High Shore"), given a conventional date of 421.[6]

The last and most enduring irruption in the north of the Italian peninsula was that of the Lombards in 568, leaving the Eastern Roman Empire a small strip of coast in the current Veneto, and the main administrative and religious entities were therefore transferred to this remaining dominion, centered upon the Exarchate of Ravenna, the local representative of the Emperor in the East. The Venetian tradition of the islanders' aid to Belisarius was reported in early histories to explain the largely theoretical link to Ravenna, and to the Eastern Emperor. New ports were built, including those at Malamocco and Torcello in the Venetian lagoon. The tribuni maiores, the earliest central standing governing committee of the islands in the Lagoon, dated from c. 568.[7]

The Venetians traditionally having offered asylum to the Exarch, in flight from the Lombard Liutprand,[8] the Byzantine domination of central and northern Italy was subsequently largely eliminated by the conquest of the Exarchate of Ravenna in 751 by Aistulf. During this period, the seat of the local Byzantine governor (the "duke/dux", later "doge") was situated in Malamocco. Settlement on the islands in the lagoon probably increased in correspondence with the Lombard conquest of the Byzantine territories.

In 775-76, the bishopric seat of Olivolo (Helipolis) was created. During the reign of duke Agnello Particiaco (811-827) the ducal seat was moved from Malamocco to the highly protected Rialto, the current location of Venice. The monastery of St. Zachary and the first ducal palace and basilica of St. Mark, as well as a walled defense (civitatis murus) between Olivolo and Rialto were subsequently built here. Winged lions which may be seen in Venice are a symbol for St. Mark.

In 810, an agreement between Charlemagne and Nicephorus recognized Venice as Byzantine territory and recognized the city's trading rights along the Adriatic coast, where Charlemagne had previous ordered the pope to expel the Venetians from the Pentapolis.[9] In 828, the new city's prestige was raised by the acquisition of the claimed relics of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria, which were placed in the new basilica. The patriarchal seat was also moved to Rialto. As the community continued to develop and as Byzantine power waned, it led to the growth of autonomy and eventual independence.

Piazza San Marco in Venice, with St Mark's Campanile in the background.
These Horses of Saint Mark are a replica of the Triumphal Quadriga captured in Constantinople in 1204 and carried to Venice as a trophy.


From the ninth to the twelfth century Venice developed into a city state (an Italian thalassocracy or Repubblica Marinara, the other three being Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi). Its strategic position at the head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable. With the elimination of pirates along the Dalmatian coast, the city became a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the world (especially the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world).

In the 12th century the foundations of Venice's power were laid: the Venetian Arsenal was under construction in 1104; the last autocratic doge, Vital II Michele, died in 1172.

The Republic of Venice seized a number of locations on the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade. The Doge already carried the titles of Duke of Dalmatia and Duke of Istria. Later mainland possessions, which extended across Lake Garda as far west as the Adda River, were known as the "Terraferma", and were acquired partly as a buffer against belligerent neighbours, partly to guarantee Alpine trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat, on which the city depended. In building its maritime commercial empire, the Republic dominated the trade in salt,[10] acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete, and became a major power-broker in the Near East. By the standards of the time, Venice's stewardship of its mainland territories was relatively enlightened and the citizens of such towns as Bergamo, Brescia and Verona rallied to the defence of Venetian sovereignty when it was threatened by invaders.

Venice remained closely associated with Constantinople, being twice granted trading privileges in the Eastern Roman Empire, through the so-called Golden Bulls or 'chrysobulls' in return for aiding the Eastern Empire to resist Norman and Turkish incursions. In the first chrysobull Venice acknowledged its homage to the Empire but not in the second, reflecting the decline of Byzantium and the rise of Venice's power.[11][12]

Venice became an imperial power following the Venetian-financed Fourth Crusade, which in 1204 seized and sacked Constantinople and established the Latin Empire. As a result of this conquest considerable Byzantine plunder was brought back to Venice. This plunder included the gilt bronze horses from the Hippodrome of Constantinople which were now placed above the entrance to St Mark's cathedral in Venice, where they remain to this day. Following the fall of Constantinople the former Roman Empire was partitioned among the Latin crusaders and the Venetians. Venice subsequently carved out a sphere of influence in the Mediterranean known as the Duchy of the Archipelago, and seized Crete.

The seizure of Constantinople would ultimately prove as decisive a factor in ending the Byzantine Empire as the loss of the Anatolian themes after Manzikert. Though the Byzantines recovered control of the ravaged city a half century later, the Byzantine Empire was greatly weakened, and existed as a ghost of its old self, struggling on with the help, among other things, of loans from Venice (never repaid) until Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror took the city in 1453.

Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice always traded with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world extensively. By the late thirteenth century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce. During this time, Venice's leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and support the work of the greatest and most talented artists. The city was governed by the Great Council, which was made up of members of the noble families of Venice. The Great Council appointed all public officials and elected a Senate of 200 to 300 individuals. Since this group was too large for efficient administration, a Council of Ten (also called the Ducal Council or the Signoria), controlled much of the administration of the city. One member of the great council was elected "Doge", or duke, the ceremonial head of the city, who normally held the title until his death.

The Venetian governmental structure was similar in some ways to the republican system of ancient Rome, with an elected chief executive (the Doge), a senate-like assembly of nobles, and a mass of citizens with limited political power, who originally had the power to grant or withhold their approval of each newly elected Doge. Church and various private properties were tied to military service, though there was no knight tenure within the city itself. The Cavalieri di San Marco was the only order of chivalry ever instituted in Venice, and no citizen could accept or join a foreign order without the government's consent. Venice remained a republic throughout its independent period and politics and the military were kept separate, except when on occasion the Doge personally headed the military. War was regarded as a continuation of commerce by other means (hence, the city's early production of large numbers of mercenaries for service elsewhere, and later its reliance on foreign mercenaries when the ruling class was preoccupied with commerce).

The chief executive was the Doge, who theoretically held his elective office for life. In practice, several Doges were forced by pressure from their oligarchical peers to resign the office and retire into monastic seclusion when they were felt to have been discredited by perceived political failure.

Though the people of Venice generally remained orthodox Roman Catholics, the state of Venice was notable for its freedom from religious fanaticism and it enacted not a single execution for religious heresy during the Counter-Reformation. This apparent lack of zeal contributed to Venice's frequent conflicts with the Papacy. Venice was threatened with the interdict on a number of occasions and twice suffered its imposition. The second, most famous, occasion was on 27 April 1509, by order of Pope Julius II (see League of Cambrai).

Venetian ambassadors sent home still-extant secret reports of the politics and rumours of European courts, providing fascinating information to modern historians.

The newly-invented German printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe in the fifteenth century, and Venice was quick to adopt it. By 1482 Venice was the printing capital of the world, and the leading printer was Aldus Manutius, who invented the concept of paperback books that could be carried in a saddlebag. His Aldine Editions included translations of nearly all the known Greek manuscripts of the era.[13]


Venice’s long decline started in the 15th century, when it first made an unsuccessful attempt to hold Thessalonica against the Ottomans (1423–1430). She also sent ships to help defend Constantinople against the besieging Turks (1453). After the city fell to Sultan Mehmet II he declared war on Venice. The war lasted thirty years and cost Venice much of her eastern Mediterranean possessions. Next, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Then Portugal found a sea route to India, destroying Venice’s land route monopoly. France, England and Holland followed them. Venice’s oared galleys had no advantage when it came to traversing the great oceans. She was left behind in the race for colonies.

The Black Death devastated Venice in 1348 and once again between 1575 and 1577.[14] In three years the plague killed some 50,000 people.[15] In 1630, the plague killed a third of Venice's 150,000 citizens.[16] Venice began to lose its position as a center of international trade during the later part of the Renaissance as Portugal became Europe's principal intermediary in the trade with the East, striking at the very foundation of Venice's great wealth, while France and Spain fought for hegemony over Italy in the Italian Wars, marginalising its political influence. However, the Venetian empire was a major exporter of agricultural products and, until the mid-18th century, a significant manufacturing center.

Military and naval affairs

Historic map of Venice by Piri Reis

By 1303, crossbow practice had become compulsory in the city, with citizens training in groups. As weapons became more expensive and complex to operate, professional soldiers were assigned to help work merchant sailing ships and as rowers in galleys. The company of "Noble Bowmen" was recruited in the later 14th century from among the younger aristocracy and served aboard both war-galleys and as armed merchantmen, with the privilege of sharing the captain's cabin.

Though Venice was famous for its navy, its army was equally effective. In the 13th century, most Italian city states already were hiring mercenaries, but Venetian troops were still recruited from the lagoon, plus feudal levies from Dalmatia (the very famous Schiavoni or Oltremarini)[17] and Istria. In times of emergency, all males between seventeen and sixty years were registered and their weapons were surveyed, with those called to actually fight being organized into companies of twelve. The register of 1338 estimated that 30,000 Venetian men were capable of bearing arms; many of these were skilled crossbowmen. As in other Italian cities, aristocrats and other wealthy men were cavalrymen while the city's conscripts fought as infantry.

By 1450, more than 3,000 Venetian merchant ships were in operation. Most of these could be converted when necessary into either warships or transports. The government required each merchant ship to carry a specified number of weapons (mostly crossbows and javelins) and armour; merchant passengers were also expected to be armed and to fight when necessary. A reserve of some 25 (later 100) war-galleys was maintained in the Arsenal. Galley slaves did not exist in medieval Venice, the oarsmen coming from the city itself or from its possessions, especially Dalmatia. Those from the city were chosen by lot from each parish, their families being supported by the remainder of the parish while the rowers were away. Debtors generally worked off their obligations rowing the galleys. Rowing skills were encouraged through races and regattas.

Early in the 15th century, as new mainland territories were expanded, the first standing army was organized, consisting of condottieri on contract. In its alliance with Florence in 1426, Venice agreed to supply 8,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry in time of war, and 3,000 and 1,000 in peacetime. Later in that century, uniforms were adopted that featured red-and-white stripes, and a system of honors and pensions developed. Throughout the 15th century, Venetian land forces were almost always on the offensive and were regarded as the most effective in Italy, largely because of the tradition of all classes carrying arms in defense of the city and official encouragement of general military training.

Venice, by Bolognino Zaltieri, 1565.

The command structure in the army was different from that of the fleet. By ancient law, no nobleman could command more than twenty-five men (to prevent the possibility of sedition by private armies), and while the position of Captain General was introduced in the mid-14th century, he still had to answer to a civilian panel of twenty Savi or "wise men". Not only was efficiency not degraded, this policy saved Venice from the military takeovers that other Italian city states so often experienced. A civilian commissioner (not unlike a commissar) accompanied each army to keep an eye on things, especially the mercenaries. The Venetian military tradition also was notably cautious; they were more interested in achieving success with a minimum expense of lives and money than in the pursuit of glory.

Modern era

A map of the sestiere of San Marco.

After 1,070 years, the Republic lost independence when Napoleon Bonaparte on 12 May 1797, conquered Venice during the First Coalition. The French conqueror brought to an end the most fascinating century of its history: during the Settecento (18th century) Venice became perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture and literature. Napoleon was seen as something of a liberator by the city's Jewish population, although it can be argued they had lived with fewer restrictions in Venice. He removed the gates of the Ghetto and ended the restrictions on when and where Jews could live and travel in the city.

Venice became Austrian territory when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio on 12 October 1797. The Austrians took control of the city on 18 January 1798. It was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, but was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, when it became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. In 1848-1849 a revolt briefly reestablished the Venetian Republic under Daniele Manin. In 1866, following the Third Italian War of Independence, Venice, along with the rest of the Veneto, became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy.

During the Second World War, the city was largely free from attack, the only aggressive effort of note being Operation Bowler, a precision strike on the German naval operations there in 1945. Venice was finally liberated by New Zealand troops under Freyberg on 29 April 1945.[18]


Sestieri of Venice:
    San Marco
    San Polo
    Santa Croce

The city is divided into six areas or "sestiere". These are Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro (including the Giudecca and Isola Sacca Fisola), Santa Croce, San Marco (including San Giorgio Maggiore) and Castello (including San Pietro di Castello and Sant'Elena). Each sestiere was administered by a procurator and his staff.

These districts consist of parishes — initially seventy in 1033, but reduced under Napoleon and now numbering just thirty-eight. These parishes predate the sestieri, which were created in about 1170.

Other islands of the Venetian Lagoon do not form part of any of the sestieri, having historically enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy.

Each sestiere has its own house numbering system. Each house has a unique number in the district, from one to several thousand, generally numbered from one corner of the area to another, but not usually in a readily understandable manner.

At the front of the Gondolas that work in the city there is a large piece of metal intended as a likeness of the Doge's hat. On this sit six notches pointing forwards and one pointing backwards. Each of these represent one of the Sestieri (the one which points backwards represents the Giudecca).[citation needed]

Sinking of Venice

Acqua Alta or high water in Venice.
Venice and surroundings in false color, from Terra. The picture is oriented with North at the top.

The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wood piles, which were imported from the mainland. (Under water, in the absence of oxygen, wood does not decay. It is petrified as a result of the constant flow of mineral-rich water around and through it, so that it becomes a stone-like structure.) The piles penetrate a softer layer of sand and mud until they reach the much harder layer of compressed clay. Wood for piles was cut in the most western part of today's Slovenia, resulting in the barren land in a region today called Kras, and in two regions of Croatia, Lika and Gorski kotar (resulting in the barren slopes of Velebit). Most of these piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations rest on the piles, and buildings of brick or stone sit above these footings. The buildings are often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring.

Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. This created an ever-deeper lagoon environment.

During the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside. It was realized that extraction of the aquifer was the cause. This sinking process has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the 1960s. However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods (called Acqua alta, "high water") that creep to a height of several centimetres over its quays, regularly following certain tides. In many old houses the former staircases used by people to unload goods are now flooded, rendering the former ground floor uninhabitable.

Some recent studies have suggested that the city is no longer sinking,[19][20] but this is not yet certain; therefore, a state of alert has not been revoked. In May 2003 the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inaugurated the MOSE project (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), an experimental model for evaluating the performance of inflatable gates; the idea is to lay a series of 79 inflatable pontoons across the sea bed at the three entrances to the lagoon. When tides are predicted to rise above 110 centimetres, the pontoons will be filled with air and block the incoming water from the Adriatic Sea. This engineering work is due to be completed by 2011.

Panorama of the Giudecca Canal and the Saint Mark's Basin

Some experts say that the best way to protect Venice is to physically lift the City to a greater height above sea level, by pumping water into the soil underneath the city.[21] This way, some hope, it could rise above sea levels, protecting it for hundreds of years, and eventually the MOSE project may not be necessary (it will, controversially, alter the tidal patterns in the lagoon, damaging some wildlife). A further point about the "lifting" system would be that it would be permanent; the MOSE Project is, by its very nature, a temporary system: it is expected to protect Venice for only 100 years.

In 1604, to defray the cost of flood relief Venice introduced what could be considered the first example of what became elsewhere a 'stamp tax'. When the revenue fell short of expectations in 1608 Venice introduced paper with the superscription 'AQ' and imprinted instructions which was to be used for 'letters to officials'. Initially this was to be a temporary tax but in fact remained in effect to the fall of the Republic in 1797. Shortly after the introduction of the tax Spain produced similar paper for more general taxation purposes and the practice spread to other countries.


According to the Koppen climate classification, Venice has a Humid subtropical climate (Cfa), with cool winters and very warm summers. The 24-hour average in January is 2.5 °C (36.5 °F), and for July this figure is 22.7 °C (72.9 °F). Precipitation is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, and averages 801 millimetres (31.5 in).

Climate data for Venice
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.8
Average low °C (°F) -0.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 58.1
Avg. precipitation days 6.7 6.2 6.6 8.2 8.3 8.9 5.7 6.7 5.4 6.0 7.7 6.4 82.8
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN) [22] 2010-03-13


Venice's economy has greatly changed throughout history, and has evolved greatly. In the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance, Venice was a major centre for commerce and trade, as it controlled a vast sea-empire, and became an extremely wealthy European city, a leader in political and economic affairs and a centre for trade and commerce.[23] This all changed by the 17th century, when Venice's trade empire was taken over by other countries such as Portugal, and its naval importance was reduced. In the 18th century, then, it became a major agricultural and industrial exporter. The 18th century's biggest industrial complex was the Venice Arsenal, and the Italian Army still uses it today (even though some space has been used for major theatrical and cultural productions, and beautiful spaces for art).[24] Today, Venice's economy is mainly based on tourism, shipbuilding (mainly done in the neighbouring cities of Mestre and Porto Marghera), services, trade and industrial exports.[23] Murano glass production in Murano and lace production in Burano are also highly important to the economy.[23]


Interior view of the Caffè Florian.

Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world, due to the city being one of the world's greatest and most beautiful cities of art[25]. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day (2007 estimate)[26]. In 2006, it was the world's 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year.[27]

Tourism has been a major sector of Venetian industry since the 18th century, when it was a major centre for the grand tour, due to its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage. In the 19th century, it became a fashionable centre for the rich and famous, often staying or dining at luxury establishments such as the Danieli Hotel and the Caffè Florian. It continued being a fashionable city in vogue right into the early 20th century[25] In the 1980s the Carnival of Venice was revived and the city has become a major centre of international conferences and festivals, such as the prestigious Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival, which attract visitors from all over the world for their theatrical, cultural, cinematic, artistic and musical productions[25]

Today there are numerous attractions in Venice, such as St Mark's Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Piazza San Marco, to name a few. The Lido di Venezia is also a popular international luxury destination, attracting thousands of actors, critics, celebrities and mainly people in the cinematic industry.[25]

However, Venice's popularity as a major worldwide tourist destination has caused several problems, including the fact that the city can be very overcrowded at some points of the year. It is regarded by some as a tourist trap, and by others as a 'living museum'.[25] The competition for foreigners to buy homes in Venice has made prices rise so highly, that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy, most notably Mestre.


Aerial view of Venice including the bridge to the mainland
The Ponte dei Sospiri, the "Bridge of Sighs".

Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of 117 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are connected by 455 bridges [28]. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railway station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Beyond these land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains, as it was in centuries past, entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest urban car free area, unique in Europe in remaining a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.


A gondola and a gondolier

The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies. Many gondolas are lushly appointed with crushed velvet seats and Persian rugs. Gondoliers typically charge between 80 and 100 euros for a 35 minute "giro" or excursion around some canals. The Gondoliers, by law, must be of Venetian birth. Most Venetians now travel by motorised waterbuses (vaporetti) which ply regular routes along the major canals and between the city's islands. The city also has many private boats. The only gondolas still in common use by Venetians are the traghetti, foot passenger ferries crossing the Grand Canal at certain points without bridges. Visitors can also take the water taxis between areas of the city.

Public transportation

Azienda Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) is the name of the public transport system in Venice. It combines both land transportation, with buses, and canal travel, with water buses (vaporetti). In total, there are 25 routes which connect the city. A one way pass good for one hour costs 6.50 €; longer term passes for 12 to 72 hours are available, costing 14 to 31 €. An even better deal is the "Venice Card" for 7 days, starting at 47.50 €, which includes unlimited vaporetto travel.

Venice also has water taxis, which are fast but quite expensive.


Venice is served by the newly rebuilt Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast; however, the water taxis or Alilaguna waterbuses to Venice are only a seven-minute walk from the terminals.

Some airlines market Treviso Airport in Treviso, 30 km from Venice, as a Venice gateway. Some simply advertise flights to "Venice" without naming the actual airport except in the small print.[29]


Venice is serviced by regional and national trains. One of the easiest ways to travel from Rome or other large Italian cities is to use the train. Rome is only slightly over four hours away; Milan is slightly over two and a half hours away. Treviso is thirty-five minutes away.[30] Florence and Padua are two of the stops between Rome and Venice. The St. Lucia station is a few steps away from a vaporetti stop.


The maritime portion of Venice has no streets as such, being composed almost entirely of narrow footpaths, and laid out across islands connected by staired stone footbridges, making transportation impossible by almost anything with wheels. Cars can reach the car/bus terminal via the bridge (Ponte della Liberta) (SR11). It comes in from the West from Mestre. There are two parking lots which serve the city: Tronchetto and Piazzale Roma. Cars can be parked there anytime for around €30 per day. A ferry to Lido leaves from the parking lot in Tronchetto and it is served by vaporetti and buses of the public transportation.

View of Venice from St Mark's Campanile.

Main sights

A small canal in Venice (Rio della Verona).
A winter sunset across the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.
Piazza San Marco and its famous pigeons.
Rialto Bridge seen from a waterbus.


Piazzas and campi

Palaces and palazzi


Facade of St Mark's Basilica.
Two gondolas in a narrow Venetian canal.
Florians coffee bar in St. Mark's Square, a famous landmark in Venice.
Venice waterfront facing the lagoon

Other buildings



Venetian Villas

The villas of the Veneto, rural residences for nobles during the Republic, are one of the most interesting aspects of Venetian countryside. They are surrounded by elegant gardens, suitable for fashionable parties of high society. Most of these villas were designed by Palladio, and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the architects, water around the villas was a very important architectural element because it added more brilliance to the façade and allowed Venetian nobles to reach them by boat.


In 2007, there were 268,993 people residing in Venice, of whom 47.5% were male and 52.5% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 14.36 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 25.7 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Venice residents is 46 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Venice declined by 0.2 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.85 percent.[31] But the population in the historic old city declines at a significantly faster rate: from about 120,000 in 1980 to about 60,000 in 2009.[32]

As of 2006, 93.70% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group comes from other European nations (Romanians, the largest group: 3.26%, South Asia: 1.26%, and East Asia: 0.9%). Venice is predominantly Roman Catholic, but because of the long standing relationship with Constantinople there is also a perceptible Orthodox presence, and due to immigration it now has some Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist inhabitants.


Typical masks worn during the Carnival of Venice.

Cinema and Venice in popular culture and media

Venice has been the setting or chosen location of numerous films, novels, poems and other cultural references. The city was a particularly popular setting for several novels, essays, and other works of fictional or non-fictional literature. Examples of these include Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Othello, Ben Jonson's Volpone, Voltaire's Candide, Casanova's autobiographical History of My Life, Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven, and Philippe Sollers' Watteau in Venice, to name but a few. The city has also been a setting for numerous films and music videos, such as the James Bond series 'From Russia with Love', 'Moonraker' and 'Casino Royale', Death in Venice, Fellini's Casanova, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A Little Romance, The Italian Job, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Madonna's Like a Virgin (song). On addition to that, numerous video games such as Tomb Raider 2, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Assassin's Creed II[33] feature Venice in their games.


The Baroque Ca' Rezzonico.

Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style, the most famous of which is probably the Gothic style. Venetian Gothic architecture is a term given to a Venetian building style combining use of the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Arab influences. The style originated in 14th century Venice where the confluence of Byzantine style from Constantinople met Arab influence from Moorish Spain. Chief examples of the style are the Doge's Palace and the Ca' d'Oro in the city. The city also has several Renaissance and Baroque buildings, including the Ca' Pesaro and the Ca' Rezzonico.

Music and the performing arts

La Fenice operahouse in the city.

The city of Venice in Italy has played an important role in the development of the music of Italy. The Venetian state—i.e. the medieval Maritime Republic of Venice—was often popularly called the "Republic of Music", and an anonymous Frenchman of the 1600s is said to have remarked that "In every home, someone is playing a musical instrument or singing. There is music everywhere." [34]

During the 16th century, Venice became one of the most important musical centers of Europe, marked by a characteristic style of composition (the Venetian school) and the development of the Venetian polychoral style under composers such as Adrian Willaert, who worked at San Marco. Venice was the early center of music printing; Ottaviano Petrucci began publishing music almost as soon as this technology was available, and his publishing enterprise helped to attract composers from all over Europe, especially from France and Flanders. By the end of the century, Venice was famous for the splendor of its music, as exemplified in the "colossal style" of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, which used multiple choruses and instrumental groups. Venice was also the home of many famous composers during the baroque period, such as Antonio Vivaldi, Ippolito Ciera, Giovanni Picchi, and Girolamo Dalla Casa, to name but a few.

Interior design

Venice arguably produced the most unique and refined Rococo designs. At the time, Venice was in a state of trouble. It had lost most of its maritime power, was lagging behind its rivals in political importance and society had become decadent, with nobles wasting their money in gambling and partying. But without a doubt, Venice remained Italy's fashion capital, and was a serious contender to Paris in terms of wealth, architecture, luxury, taste, sophistication, trade, decoration, style and design.[35] Venetian Rococo was well-known for being rich and luxurious, with usually very extravagant designs. Unique Venetian furniture, such as the divani da portego, or long Rococo couches and pozzetti, objects meant to be placed against the wall. Venetian bedrooms were usually sumptuous and grand, with rich damask, velvet and silk drapery and curtains, a beautifully carved Rococo beds with statues of putti, flowers and angels.[35] Venice was especially famous for its beautiful girandole mirrors, which remained amongst, if not the, finest in Europe. Chandeliers were usually very colourful, using Murano glass to make them look more vibrant and stand out from others, and precious stones and materials from abroad were used, since Venice still held a vast trade empire. Lacquer was very common, and many items of furniture were covered with it, the most famous being lacca povera (poor lacuqer), in which allegories and images of social life were painted. Lacquerwork and Chinoiserie were particularly common in bureau cabinets.[36]

Fashion and Shopping

Luxury shops and boutiques along the Rialto Bridge.

In the 14th century, many young Venetian men began wearing tight-fitting multicoloured hose, the designs on which indicated the Compagnie della Calza ("Trouser Club") to which they belonged. The Venetian Senate passed sumptuary laws, but these merely resulted in changes in fashion in order to circumvent the law. Dull garments were worn over colourful ones, which then were cut to show the hidden colours resulting in the wide spread of men's "slashed" fashions in the 15th century.

Today, Venice is also a major fashion and shopping centre in Italy, not as important as Milan, Florence or Rome, but par to Turin, Vicenza, Naples and Genoa. Many of the fashion boutiques and jewelry shops in the city are located in the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco. Currently, there are Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna flagship stores operating in the city.


Hot chocolate was a fashionable drink in Venice during the 1770s and 1780s.

Venetian cuisine is obviously characterized by seafood, but also includes garden products from the islands of the lagoon, rice from the mainland, game, and polenta. Venice combines local traditions with influences that are distant from millennial business contacts. These include sarde in saor, sardines marinated in order to preserve them for long voyages; risi e bisi, rice and peas; fegato alla veneziana, Venetian-style liver; risotto with cuttlefish, blackened from the ink; cicchetti, refined and delicious tidbits (akin to tapas); antipasti, appetizers; and prosecco, an effervescent, mildly sweet wine.

In addition, Venice is famous for bisàto (marinated eel), for the golden, oval-shaped cookies called baicoli, and for different types of sweets such as: pan del pescatore (bread of the fisherman); cookies with almonds and pistachio nuts; cookies with fried Venetian cream or the bussolai (butter biscuits and shortbread made in the shape of an "S" or ring) from the island of Burano; the crostoli also known as the chatter, lies, or galani; the fregolotta (a crumbly cake with almonds); milk pudding called rosada; and cookies of yellow semolina called zaléti.


Venetian or the regional form Venetan is a Romance language spoken as native language by over two million people,[37] mostly in Venice, but also the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometime spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia, Istria and some towns of Dalmatia, an area of six to seven million people. The language enjoyed substantial prestige in the days of the Venetian Republic, when it attained the status of a lingua franca in the Mediterranean.


Portrait of Giacomo Casanova

Venice has long been a source of inspiration for authors, poets and playwrights as well as being at the forefront of the technical developing of printing and publishing.

Two of the most famous Venetian writers were Marco Polo in the Middle Ages and later Giacomo Casanova. Polo (1254–1324) was a merchant who voyaged to the Orient. His series of books, co-written by Rustichello da Pisa, titled Il Milione provided important knowledge of the lands east of Europe; from the Middle East, to China, Japan and Russia. Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) was a prolific writer and famous adventurer who is best remembered for his autobiography, Histoire De Ma Vie (Story of My Life), which links his colourful lifestyle to the city of Venice.

Venetian playwrights followed the old Italian theater tradition of Commedia dell'Arte. Ruzante (1502–1542) and Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793) used the Venetian dialect extensively in their comedies.

book printed by Aldus Manutius

Venice has also inspired writers from abroad. Shakespeare set Othello and The Merchant of Venice in the city. Thomas Mann authored the novel Death in Venice, published in 1912. Venice inspired the poetry of Ezra Pound, who wrote his first literary work in the city. Pound died in 1972 and his remains are buried in Venice's cemetery island of St. Michael. The French writer Philippe Sollers spent most of his life in Venice and published A Dictionary For Lovers Of Venice in 2004. Ugo Foscolo (1778–1827) born in Zante, an island which at the time belonged to the Republic of Venice, was also a famous poet and revolutionary who wanted to see a free republic established in Venice following the fall to Napoleon.

Venice is also linked to the technical aspects of writing. The city was the location for one of Italy's earliest printing presses, established by Aldus Manutius (1449–1515).[citation needed] From this beginning Venice developed as an important typographic center and even as late as the 1700s was responsible for printing half of Italy's published books.[citation needed]

Art and printing

A 18th century view of Venice by Venetian artist Canaletto.

Venice, especially during the Middle-Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, was a major centre of art and developed a unique style known as the Venetian School. In the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance, Venice, along with Florence and Rome, became one of the most important centres of art in Europe, and numerous wealthy Venetians became patrons of the arts. Venice at the time was a rich and prosperous Maritime Republic, which controlled a vast sea and trade empire.[38]

By the end of the 15th century, Venice had become the European capital of printing, being one of the first cities in Italy (after Subiaco and Rome) to have a printing press after those established in Germany, having 417 printers by 1500. The most important printing office was the Aldine Press of Aldus Manutius, which in 1499 printed the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, considered the most beautiful book of Renaissance, and established modern punctuation, the page format and italic type, and the first printed work of Aristotle.

In the sixteenth century Venetian painting was developed through influences from the Paduan School and Antonello da Messina, who introduced the oil painting technique of the van Eyck brothers. It is signified by a warm colour scale and a picturesque use of colour. Early masters where the Bellini and Vivarini families, followed by Giorgione and Titian, then Tintoretto and Veronese. In the early 1500s, also, there was rivalry between whether Venetian painting should use disegno or colorito[39].

Canvases (the common painting surface) originated in Venice during the early renaissance. These early canvases were generally rough.

In the eighteenth century Venetian painting had a renaissance because of Tiepolo's decorative painting and Canaletto's and Guardi's panoramic views.


Venice is famous for its ornate glass-work, known as Venetian glass. It is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skilfully made.

Many of the important characteristics of these objects had been developed by the thirteenth century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano.

Byzantine craftsmen played an important role in the development of Venetian glass, an art form for which the city is well-known. When Constantinople was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, some fleeing artisans came to Venice. This happened again when the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, supplying Venice with still more glassworkers. By the sixteenth century, Venetian artisans had gained even greater control over the color and transparency of their glass, and had mastered a variety of decorative techniques.

Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe.

Some of the most important brands of glass in the world today are still produced in the historical glass factories on Murano. They are : Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Millevetri, Seguso.[40] Barovier & Toso is considered one of the 100 oldest companies in the world, formed in 1295.

One of the most renowned types of Venetian glasses are made in Murano, known as Murano glass, which has been a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano for centuries. Located off the shore of Venice, Italy, Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century it had become a well-known city of trade. Today Murano remains a destination for tourists and art and jewellery lovers alike.


The Carnival of Venice is held annually in the city, starting around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday. The carnival is closely associated with Venetian masks.

The Venice Biennale is one of the most important events in the arts calendar. During 1893 headed by the mayor of Venice, Riccardo Selvatico, the Venetian City Council passed a resolution on 19 April to set up an Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale (biennial exhibition of Italian art), to be inaugurated on 22 April 1895.[41] Following the outbreak of hostilities during the Second World War, the activities of the Biennale were interrupted in September 1942, but resumed in 1948.[42]

The Venice Film Festival (Italian Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia) is the oldest film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. It is one of the world's most prestigious film festivals and is part of the Venice Biennale.

Foreign words of Venetian origin

Notable people

For people from Venice, see People from Venice. Others closely associated with the city include:

Twin towns — Sister cities

Cooperation agreements

Venice has cooperation agreements with the Greek city of Thessaloniki, the German city of Nuremberg, signed on 25 September 1999, and the Turkish city of Istanbul, signed on 4 March 1993, within the framework of the 1991 Istanbul Declaration. It is also a Science and Technology Partnership City with Qingdao, China.

The City of Venice and the Central Association of Cities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) established, in January 2000, in pursuance of the EC Regulations n. 2137/85, the European Economic Interest Grouping (E.E.I.G.) Marco Polo System to promote and realise European projects within transnational cultural and tourist field, particularly referred to the artistic and architectural heritage preservation and safeguard.


The name is connected with the people known as the Veneti, perhaps the same as the Eneti (Ενετοί). The meaning of the word is uncertain. Connections with the Latin verb 'venire' (to come) or (Slo)venia are fanciful. A connection with the Latin word venetus, meaning 'sea-blue', is possible. Given that Venice was once a Phoenician colony, there is some speculation that the name 'Venice' has its roots in the name of the Phoenician empire.

See also

Several cities have been compared to Venice: The Breton city Nantes has been called The Venice of the West, Suzhou has been named Venice of the East, Basra was once known as the Venice of the Middle East due to the numerous canals there, while the title The Venice of the North has been variously applied to Amsterdam, Birmingham, Bornholm, Bruges, Haapsalu, Maryhill, Saint Petersburg and Stockholm.



  • Bosio, Luciano. Le origini di Venezia. Novara: Istituto Geografico De Agostini. 
  • Chambers, D.S. (1970). The Imperial Age of Venice, 1380-1580. London: Thames & Hudson. The best brief introduction in English, still completely reliable.
  • Contarini, Gasparo (1599). The Commonwealth and Gouernment of Venice. Lewes Lewkenor, trsl. London: "Imprinted by I. Windet for E. Mattes." The most important contemporary account of Venice's governance during the time of its blossoming. Also available in various reprint editions.
  • Drechsler, Wolfgang (2002). "Venice Misappropriated." Trames 6(2), pp. 192–201. A scathing review of Martin & Romano 2000; also a good summary on the most recent economic and political thought on Venice.
  • Garrett, Martin, "Venice: a Cultural History" (2006). Revised edition of "Venice: a Cultural and Literary Companion" (2001).
  • Grubb, James S. (1986). "When Myths Lose Power: Four Decades of Venetian Historiography." Journal of Modern History 58, pp. 43–94. The classic "muckraking" essay on the myths of Venice.
  • Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venice: Maritime Republic (1973) (ISBN 0-8018-1445-6) standard scholarly history; emphasis on economic, political and diplomatic history
  • Laven, Mary, "Virgins of Venice: Enclosed Lives and Broken Vows in the Renaissance Convent (2002). The most important study of the life of Renaissance nuns, with much on aristocratic family networks and the life of women more generally.
  • Martin, John Jeffries and Dennis Romano (eds). Venice Reconsidered. The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297-1797. (2002) Johns Hopkins University Press. The most recent collection on essays, many by prominent scholars, on Venice.
  • Muir, Edward (1981). Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice. Princeton UP. The classic of Venetian cultural studies, highly sophisticated.
  • Oppenheimer, Gerald J. (2010). Venetian Palazzi and Case: A Guide to the Literature. University of Washington, Seattle. Retrieved from February 7, 2010.
  • Rösch, Gerhard (2000). Venedig. Geschichte einer Seerepublik. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. In German, but the most recent top-level brief history of Venice.
  • Miller, Judith (2005). Furniture: world styles from classical to contemporary. DK Publishing. ISBN 075661340X. 
  • Ackroyd, Peter. Venice: Pure City. London, Chatto & Windus. 2009. ISBN 978-0-7011-8478-0
  • Cole, Toby. Venice: A Portable Reader, Lawrence Hill, 1979. ISBN 0-88208-097-0 (hardcover); ISBN 0-88208-107-1 (softcover).
  • Morris, Jan (1993), Venice. 3rd revised edition. Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-16897-3. A subjective and passionate written introduction to the city and some of its history. Not illustrated.
  • Ruskin, John (1853). The Stones of Venice. Abridged edition Links, JG (Ed), Penguin Books, 2001. ISBN 0-14-139065-4. Seminal work on architecture and society
  • di Robilant, Andrea (2004). A Venetian Affair. Harper Collins. ISBN 1-84115-542-X Biography of Venetian nobleman and lover, from correspondence in the 1750s.
  • Sethre, Janet. The Souls of Venice McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003. ISBN 0-7864-1573-8 (softcover). This book focuses on people who have been shaped by Venice and who have shaped the city in their turn. Illustrated (photographs by Manuela Fardin).


  1. ^ Barzini, Luigi (1982-05-30). "The Most Beautiful City In The World - The". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mara Rumiz, Venice Demographics Official Mock funeral for Venice's 'death'
  4. ^ "Imperciocchè nascendi i principati", begins Apostolo Zeno, Compendio della storia Veneta di Apostolo Zeno continuata fino alla caduta della repubblica 1847:9.
  5. ^ Bosio, Le origini di Venezia
  6. ^ Zeno, Compendio 1847:10.
  7. ^ Traditional date as given in William J. Langer, ed. An Encyclopedia of World History.
  8. ^ According to John Julius Norwich, the traditional first doge of Venice, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, was a mistake for the exarch Paul, whose magister militum was named Marcellus, the same name as Paoluccio's reputed successor as doge, Marcellus Tegallianus.
  9. ^ Langer.
  10. ^ Richard Cowen, The importance of salt
  11. ^ Herrin, Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Penguin, Harmondsworth, ISBN 978-0-14-103102-6
  12. ^ "History of Venice". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  13. ^ James Burke, Connections (Little, Brown and Co., 1978/1995, ISBN 0-316-11672-6, p.105
  14. ^ "A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World". William J. Bernstein (2008).
  15. ^ State of Texas, Texas Department of State Health Services. "History of Plague". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  16. ^ "Santa Maria della Salute Church". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  17. ^ Italian site about Schiavoni
  18. ^ Patrick G. Skelly, Pocasset MA (1945-07-21). "New Zealand troops relieve Venice". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  19. ^ Technology: Venetians put barrage to the test against the Adriatic. New Scientist magazine. 1989-04-15. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  20. ^ "Venice's 1,500-year battle with the waves". BBC News. 2003-07-17. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  21. ^ "Keeping Venice from Sinking into the Sea". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  22. ^ "World Weather Information Service - Venezia". 
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b c d e
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Home Page", Wizz Air
  30. ^ Thomas Cook European Timetables
  31. ^ "Statistiche demografiche ISTAT". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  32. ^ Cathy Newman, "Vanishing Venice", National Geographic, August 2009
  33. ^
  34. ^ Touring Club p. 79
  35. ^ a b Miller (2005) p.82
  36. ^ Miller (2005) p.83
  37. ^ Ethnologue.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ Carl I. Gable, Murano Magic: Complete Guide to Venetian Glass, its History and Artists (Schiffer, 2004). ISBN 0-7643-1946-9.
  41. ^ "The Venice Biennale: History of the Venice Biennale". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  42. ^ "The Venice Biennale: History From the beginnings until the Second World War (1893-1945)". Retrieved 2009-03-28. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see Venice (disambiguation).
Venice from Campanile di San Marco
Venice from Campanile di San Marco

Venice [1], Italy (Venezia in Italian) is still one of the most interesting and lovely places in the world. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago, which adds to the fascinating character. Venice has decayed since its heyday and is heavily touristed (there are slightly more tourists than residents), but the romantic charm remains.

Venice and St. Mark's Square from the Campanile
Venice and St. Mark's Square from the Campanile

This place may not seem huge but it is. Venice is made of different districts. The most famous is the area comprising the 118 islands in the main districts that are called "Sestieri" and they are: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo, Santa Croce and San Marco, where the main monuments and sights are located. Other main districts are Isola Della Giudecca and Lido di Venezia. Other important islands include Murano, Torcello, San Francesco del Deserto and Burano, but there are several. Lastly, there is Mestre, another town on the more industrial mainland (but still part of Venice municipality), which is linked to Venice by a 5 kilometer bridge. More than 220,000 people live in Mestre.

  • Venice Lido— The island of tranquility, a beach district just 10 minutes by boat from San Marco, and where the Venice movie festival is held.
  • Mestre— A town on the mainland.
A lion, the symbol of San Marco
A lion, the symbol of San Marco


The Most Serene Republic of Venice dates back to 827, when a Byzantine Duke moved its seat to what is now known as the Rialto, and for the following 970 years, prospered on trade and under the rule of a Roman-style Senate headed by the Doge. Alas in 1797, the city was conquered by Napoleon, a blow from which the city never recovered. The city was soon merged into Austria-Hungary, then ping-ponged back and forth between Austria and a nascent Italy, but Venice is still a monument to the glory days of the Renaissance, and historical culture still throbs powerfully in the old Italians' veins.


The summer may be the worst time to visit: it's sometimes very hot and often humid, the canals usually smell (in the most literal sense), there are occasional infestations of flies, and there are more tourists than usual. Spring and fall are probably best, a compromise between temperature (expect 5-15°C in March) and the tourist load. Between November and January, you may manage to feel you have Venice all to yourself, an interesting and quiet experience. That said, if you've never been to Venice, it's better to go in summer than not to go. You won't regret it. Many cities are far worse in summer, and Venice has no cars, hence no smog.

Acqua alta (high water) has become a fact of life in Venice. The lagoon water level occasionally rises above the level of the squares and streets, flooding them. This can happen several times a year, at irregular intervals, usually in the colder months. Acqua alta usually lasts a couple of hours and coincides with the tides. You'll see raised walkways in side alleys ready to be pulled out when acqua alta hits. When the city begins to flood, sirens will sound to warn residents and businesses. If you speak fluent Italian, tune into news programs since their predictions of the times the flood begins and ends are usually on the spot.

You can get an acqua alta map at the tourist offices either at the railway station or St Marks. This will show you the higher, dry routes and the ones with walkways setup during the various flood alerts. There is a tide measuring station at the Rialto vaporetto piers, and a noticeboard at the base of the Campanile in the Piazza San Marco that shows a live tide reading and predictions for the next few days.

Map of Venice and surrounding islands
Map of Venice and surrounding islands

Because Venice is on a lagoon, the water plays a crucial role in transportation. The most popular way to approach Venice is by boat or train.

By plane

The closest commercial airport is Marco Polo Airport [2] (ICAO: LIPZ, IATA: VCE), on the mainland near Mestre (a more typical Italian city, without Venice's unique structure). The Treviso Airport [3] (ICAO: LIPH, IATA: TSF), located 25 km (16 mi) from Venice, is relatively smaller but becoming increasingly busy as the main destination for Ryanair, Wizzair, and Transavia budget flights. From Treviso Airport, ATVO [4] offers a €10 round-trip ticket price from-to Venice.

Both airports have bus connections with Venice (Piazzale Roma), Mestre, Padua and other towns. ATVO 'pullman'coaches (€10 return) run to and from Treviso to co-incide with flights. Marco Polo airport runs a shuttle bus --€3-- (or just turn left and walk 10 minutes under the awning) to the Alilaguna water-bus jetty, where €13 gets you a leisurely 75 minute boat trip to San Marco via Murano, Lido and the Arsenale. Or take the cheaper boat (€6,50) to Murano which takes only half an hour. Alternatively, you can travel in style (and much faster) by hiring one of the speedy water-taxis (30 mins) for about €100. All these tickets are now buyable online on [5]

The San Nicolo Airport (ICAO: LIPV, IATA: ATC) is an airfield directly on the Lido. It handles only small aircraft, as the runway (grass) is about 1 km long, and does not have any scheduled flights, but might be of interest to private pilots (arrivals from Schengen states only) due to its convenience to the city (it is a short walk to the vaporetto landing).

By train

Trains from the mainland run through Mestre to the Venezia - Santa Lucia train station on the west side of Venice (make sure you don't get confused with Venezia Mestre which is the last stop on the mainland!). From the station district, water buses (vaporetti) or water taxis can take you to hotels or other locations on the islands (or you can walk). Direct trains to Venice are available from many international destinations, including Paris (sleeping cars), Munich, Budapest, Zagreb & Ljubljana. From Vienna (Wien) Trains can be arranged via the Austrian ÖBB train system [6].

By car

Cars arrive on the far western edge of Venice, but remain parked at the entrance to the city (Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto - Europe's largest car park.) There are no roads past this point -- and never were, even before cars. Car parking is expensive here (21 €/day) and the tailbacks can be quite large. An alternative is to use the car parks on the mainland (terra firma) and catch a vaporetto, train or bus into Venice. Park near the Mestre railway station, and catch a train to Venezia St.Lucia; there are many trains, it is very near (8-10 minutes) and quite cheap. (Don't bother searching for free parking near the train station - there are no free parking spots near.) Besides, Venezia St. Lucia is a good starting point to visit Venice. However drivers going to the Lido can use the car ferry from Tronchetto (vaporetto 17 - frequencies vary), right hand lane off the Ponte della Libertà into the city.

By rental car

Most of the major rental car companies have outlets at Piazzale Roma, at the edge of the city. These are on the ground floor of one of the major parking stations. When you are dropping off your car, you need to find street parking and then walk to the rental car outlet and hand in the keys. Do not park in the parking station! There is a vaporetto stop across the road from the parking station.

By bus

There is a direct bus between Marco Polo airport and the Piazzale Roma, on the west bank of Venice. Starts twice an hour, takes 20 minutes and costs €3. The Piazzale Roma bus station is well served by vaporetti and water-taxis ... and of course, you can walk everywhere. From Mestre, you can take a bus to Venezia- Piazzale Roma. the ticket is €1.10 but if you buy it in the bus it will cost €1.50. You can buy bus tickets from tobacconists and newsagencies. All of the city is connected to Venice by bus.

By boat

Ships arrive at the Stazione Marittima which is at the west end of the main islands, it is served by vaporetti and water taxis. An up-to-date site with all ferry schedules from Venice to Greece is online at Greek Ferries Center [7], [8], [9], [10] and [11] .

Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge
Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge
Grand Canal
Grand Canal
View of San Giorgio, in front of Venice
View of San Giorgio, in front of Venice

Venice is the world's only pedestrian city, is easily walkable, and the absence of cars makes it a particularly pleasant experience. Walking and standing all day can be exhausting too so acclimatise yourself. The Rialtine islands - the 'main' part of Venice - are small enough to walk from one end to the other in about an hour.

If you want to get around a bit more quickly, there are numerous vaporetti (water buses) and water taxis. The vaporetti are generally the best way to get around, even if the service route map changes frequently. If you are going to be in Venice for a few days visiting, it is a lot cheaper to get the vaporetti than to get private water taxis. If you want to have a romantic ride along the canals, take a gondola ride.

ACTV [12] runs the vaporetti and other public transport services both in the lagoon and on the terra firma. Travel cards are extremely useful since the basic fare for one vaporetto journey is typically €6.50 whereas a 1 day travel card costs €18, and a 3 day costs €33 and there are other versions (including discounts for youth under the age of 29). Prices are correct as per January 2009 - current rates can be found here: [13].

Since February 2009 the Venice Connected [14] website of the Comune di Venezia makes possible to book online (at least 7 days in advance) most services controlled by the town administration (public transportations, access to the civic museums, access to the public restrooms, car parking tickets, entrance to the Casinò and access to the municipal WiFi network which will cover all of the historic centre before the end of 2009); the online prices vary according to the projected number of visitors but are always cheaper than the current on-site prices (and cheaper than with a Venice Card).

One can also get a Venice Card, which has various options that you can choose when you buy it (public transportation, cultural entrance, toilette access, Alilaguna and so forth). There is a 'Junior' version of the Venice that is available at a slightly reduced rate for those between 5 and 29 years of age. Note, however, that a Venice Card is not recommended for those with less than 3 days in Venice, as most of the top attractions are not included in the Venice Card. If you'll be staying in Venice for a week - get the Venice Card and enjoy travelling from island to island and exploring the various museums and churches it offers access to.

Maps are available at the vaporetto stops in the ticket booths. The map is quite reliable, and is free when getting a Venice Card (€2 otherwise).

Venice Cards can be reserved on-line for a considerable discount here: [15]. Keep in mind, though, that there are long lines when taking the Venice Card from the ticket booths. The Venezia St. Lucia ticket booth that offers Venice Cards is the one most on the right when you exit the train station.

Otherwise, take a walk! The city is not that big, and you can walk from one end to the other in a few hours. But it would take months for a fit person to discover every path in the city. Along the way you will discover marvelous art, superb architecture and breathtaking urban landscaping. Exploring the city randomly by walking is well worth it but also be prepared to get lost easily! Signs all over the city indicate the direction to the main attractions, "Rialto" and "San Marco", as well as the way back to the train station ("ferrovia") and the bus terminal ("Piazzale Roma"). These signs make it easy to have the "get lost experience" even as a one-day tourist.



Although San Marco is free, other famous churches charge an entry fee. If you plan to visit three churches or more, you are better off buying the churches pass. There is also a combined pass for museums, churches and transportation only available at the tourist information office but it is relatively expensive.

Saint Mark's Bell tower in Venice
Saint Mark's Bell tower in Venice
San Marco in Venice
San Marco in Venice
  • Saint Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco), Piazza San Marco (Water lines # 1, 52, and 82 will take you from Santa Lucia (the train station) or Piazzale Roma to Piazza San Lucia. Walking is another option but will require a map and lots of time and energy.), +39 041 5225205 (procuratorial phone number), [16]. 1st October to 31st March: 9:45AM-4:45PM; 1st April to 30 September: 9:45AM-5PM. Saint Mark's Basilica is on the Piazza San Marco and is one of the highlights of a visit to Venice. As with most churches in Italy, you must be dressed appropriately to be allowed in; this means no short skirts or bare shoulders. You are not allowed to carry large bags or rucksacks inside. You must deposit them just round the corner from the main entrance. Filming and photography is forbidden so be prepared in advance. The visit within the basilica lasts ten minutes. Waiting for entry into the basilica can last up to five or so hours and it may be wise to use to reserve your visit. Reserving is free of charge. Once you have a reservation you can take the group entrance on the left, where you give in the printout of your reservation. Admission to the basilica is free, however, the museum upstairs costs €3 and to view the high altar and treasury costs €2.   edit
  • San Giovanni e Paolo (San Zanipolo in Venetian dialect). A fine, huge Dominican church with the tombs of many Doges. It shares its piazza with the fine Renaissance facade of the Scuola San Marco and an equestrian statue of the mercenary (condottiere) captain Colleone. Look out for the testicles (coglioni in Italian - it's a lousy pun) on his coat of arms!
  • Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. The big friary church, with fine monuments and paintings.
  • Santa Maria dei Miracoli. A perfect jewel box church, simple in form but ornamented with fine exterior marble facings.


There is a museum pass available for some of Venice's best known museums. It does not include all of them. It is already worthwhile buying it if you intend to visit the two big museums at Saint Marc Square: The Doge's Palace and Correr Museum. A more expensive pass also including some famous churches and transportation is available at the tourist information.

  • Correr Museum, San Marco 52 (on San Marco Square), [17]. Interesting collection of globes, starting from the 16th century. There is also an only library hall, an archeological museum of Roman antiques and an important picture gallery. At the end of your visit, don't miss the museum art cafe, with their tables on the San Marco square.  edit
  • Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), (San Marco square), [18]. Don't miss the guided tour named Secret Itinerary (€16), which will let you discover the part of the palace where the city's administration worked, as well as Casanova's jail and the wonderful five hundred year old roof structure.  edit
  • La Fenice Theater (Teatro La Fenice), (300 m west of San Marco square), [19]. Visit this historic theater with an audioguide (good explanations in several languages). The theater is an identical reconstruction (rebuilt in 2003) of the previous theater building that burned down in 1996. €7.  edit
  • Jewish Ghetto of Venice, [20]. While racial and ethnic neighborhoods had existed prior to the Venetian Ghetto, Venice's ghetto was the first "ghetto" (coming from a Venetian word for the Iron Foundry that was on the site previously) and "ghetto" eventually came to mean any neighborhood that was made up of a single ethnic/racial group. Today, Jewish life is still very active in the ghetto, and elsewhere in Venice, and is home to five synagogues. Visiting on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) will prove very fruitless because all shops, restaurants, and other Jewish places will be closed.  edit
  • The Jewish Museum (Museo Ebraico), Cannaregio 2902/b, +39 041 715 359 (, fax: +39 041 72 3007), [21]. Hours:1 June - 30 September: 10AM-7PM 1 October- 31 : 10AM-6PM The Museum is closed on Saturday (Shabbat), during Jewish festivities, on December 25th , on 1st January and on 1 May. Entrance to the Museum: Full price: € 3.00, Reduced price: € 2.00. Entrance to the Museum and Guided Tours to Synagogues: Full price: € 8.50, Reduced price: € 7.00.  edit
  • Mocenigo Palace (Palazzo Mocenigo), (vaporetto San Stae), [22]. Closed on Mondays. A collection of clothes dating from the 18th century. €4.  edit
  • The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni (Located on the Dorsoduro region of Venice, to the east of the Accademia bridge, on the southern side of the Grand Canal), +39.041.2405.411 (, fax: +39.041.5206.885), [23]. Hours: W-M: 10AM-6PM. Closed on Tuesdays and on 25 December. Open on national holidays (including Tuesdays). The Peggy Guggenheim Museum offers a personal collection of modern art collected by Peggy Guggenheim. Peggy was an American married to modern artist Max Ernst, and funded a number of his contemporaries. The gallery includes a sculpture garden and works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Tanguy, Duchamp, Pollock, Dali, and Mondrian. Admission: Adults: €12, Seniors (over 65 years): €10, Students (18 years and under or holders of valid student ID): €7.  edit
  • Ca' Pesaro— Beautiful palace housing the gallery of modern art focusing on Italian art in the 19th Century as well as the Marco Pollo Museum, a rich collection mainly of Asian exhibits.
  • Ca' Rezzonico— Museum of the 18th Century in Venice - attempts to revive the domestic atmosphere of Venetian nobilities.
  • Bell tower of St. Mark's (Campanile di San Marco)— The current tower dates from 1912; an exact replica of the previous tower which collapsed in 1902. The top of the tower offers great views of Venice and the lagoon.
  • Clock tower (Torre dell'Orologio)— Having been closed for restoration for many years, the restored astronomical clock is now visible. The fascinating tour of the clock mechanism (and rooftop bell) can only be visited on a guided tour.
  • Scuola grande di San Rocco— A masterpiece of Tintoretto, this guild house is an exquisite example of Manierist art in its best. In order to allow a comfortable admiration of the detailed ceiling mirrors are offered to the visitors.
  • Galleria dell'Accademia di Venezia— Venice's most significant art museum which is also one of Italy's best. A must see! Regular tickets: €6,50, Reduced-price tickets: €3,25, Advanced reservation fee: €1,00.

Other Classical art museums are:

  • Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro)— On Murano, the island so typical of its glasswork. Closed on Wednesday, 25 December, 1 January. Working hours: 10 - 16 (winter), 10 - 17 (summer). Full price: €6, reduced price: €4.
  • Goldoni's House (Casa Goldoni)— House of Venice' famous playwright.
  • Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto).
  • Museum of cycling and soccer : from private collection, the epochal custom of Italy from 1950 to 1962 (under construction on Venetian Riviera del Brenta).
Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge

Other museums include:

  • Museo Fortuny.
  • Museum of Greek Icons.
  • Natural History Museum.
  • Naval History Museum (Museo Storico Navale).
  • Palazzo Grassi.
  • Scala Contarini del Bovaro.
  • Leonardo da Vinci in the Chiesa di San Barnaba shows machines reproduced from Leonardo's codices. Some of the exhibits are interactive and copies of the codices are available for further reading. Campo San Barnaba, opening hours 9:30 - 19:30, just until 30th December 2009.
  • Don't miss the Rialto market and the Rialto Bridge (Italian: Ponte di Rialto) on San Polo, the smallest sestiere. The Rialto market is for shoppers. To the east is a neighborhood of small shops and restaurants; the the west is the Rialto farmers' market. Shopping is slightly less expensive than in the tourist-filled Piazza San Marco. The bridge has become one of Venice's most recognizable icons and has a history that spans over 800 years. Today's Rialto Bridge was completed in 1591 and was used to replace a wooden bridge that collapsed in 1524.
  • Zattere. It's a long and sunny walk along the Giudecca canal, protected during winter time from cold northerly winds for being exposed to south and shielded by buildings. You might find interesting to see how a gondola is made, stopping by the Squero (Venetian for small ship yard) across the canal near San Trovaso Church. It's one of the few still in business in town. With some luck, you'll see some gondole through various manufacturing steps (note that gondole are not straight to counter-balance the gondoliere push).



Voga Longa, the yearly equivalent of a marathon run on water will be held on 31st May 2009 for the next time. Voga Longa competitors must row 32 kilometers under 3.5 hours to receive a certificate of attendance at the finish line, but everybody with a human-powered vessel is welcome to participate (some foreigner teams take up to 10 hours to complete the journey just for the fun of it).

The official purpose of the Voga Longa was to protest the sharply increasing use of powerboats in Venice, but the event has gradually grown into a festival since 1974, with up to 5500 racers in 1500 vessels attending by the early 2000s. The racetrack visits different parts of Venice as well as some of the nearby islands. Locals and tourists lining up alongside rios and canals cheer the racers.

Visitors wishing to participate should have serious experience in rowing or sculling and practice duely, as the journey is physically demanding (even seasoned oarsmen develop calluses by the finish line). The event is mainly for teams, completing Voga Longa on a single oar is considered a major achievement. Extreme participation (scuba frogmen and surface swimmers) sometimes occurs, but it is not recommended due to water contamination issues.

Regata 'Storica (Historic fleet event) is held on the first Sunday of every September. Celebrating a historic event from 1489, the regatta displays almost a hundred varieties of venetian boats from the city's rich past. Large oarships, replicating ancient roman and medieval vessels, are rowed along the Canal Grande, followed by many smaller boats. There are several races, including a master championship for solo sculling in streamlined gondolini, painted in unusual white, pink, etc. colours. There are many excellent photo opportunities for this event.


Ride a Vaporetto (Water Bus) down the Grand Canal right before sunset. The Vaporettos are inexpensive, but the sights are priceless: amazing architecture, soft seaside sunlight, and a fascinating parade of Venetian watercraft.


Take a Gondola if you can afford it: it's expensive, but the Gondoliere may decrease the price if you ask (but they can also decrease the time...). Make sure you reach an agreement on price and time before you start! A good tip with the Gondolieres is to bargain the price down as low as you can, then say that it's still too much and walk away. Two or three of them will chase after you, one after the other, each offering a lower price than the last. It's possible to knock €20-€30 off the price(even then, be prepared to shell out €80).

Some guidebooks discourage tourists from asking for gondola price reductions. The oarsmen have an informal habit of cutting the most interesting and little-known parts from the journey path for "discount" customers. Reduced rate riders get much less marvel in exchange for a moderate price drop, which may not be worth it.

Gondolier-for-hire business licenses are officially limited to just 430 to 455 rowers in Venice, making the market artificially scarce and inflating prices. Gondola rides are always costly, often in a princely way and that expense should be planned in advance of the visit[24]. If you go as a group it might be cheaper, though the number of people who can be accommodated on a gondola varies, usually up to a maximum of six seated passangers. The "traghetti" holds more, mostly standing, as a pair of gondoliers rows short distances for canal crossing purposes at a number of points along the Grand Canal.

Venetians and especially the gondoliers among them have highly conservative ideas about society: by 900 years of tradition, all gondoliers must be male and most are born locals. There are only a few Germans in the business and a single lady, Alexandra Hai, who couldn't manage a for-hire license even after 10 years. She is officially banished to carry guests of her contract hotel only.
Gondola Ride
Gondola Ride

If a gondola seems a little pricey, the alternative is to cross the Grand Canal by traghetto. These only cost €0.50 to use and are largely gondolas that have seen better days, They are stripped down and used as municipal ferries. In the 1950's there were as many as thirty, but now there are seven points to find them. However some only operate when people are going to and from work. The length of any crossing is just a few minutes. Many visitors enjoy visiting the open air markets near the Rialto Bridge and there is a traghetto station there, at the Pescheria (fish market) joining the Santa Sophia church along the Strada Nova. You will notice that traghetti passengers tend to stand up, but if you are not comfortable doing so, sitting is possible, if you are careful.

If you are looking for something to do, you can always shop. Venice is packed full of little stores in every corner and crevice. The commonest local specialties are Carnival masks, glass, and marbled paper. Price can vary wildly, so it's a good idea to hold off buying until you have a fair idea about the relative value of things. As is the case with most tourist cities, a LOT of the "original " and "made in Venice" items are actually made in China. Murano is an island famous for its glass making. Almost in every shop you will find "original Murano glass" items. If it was really made in Murano, it would be prohibitively expensive, with prices routinely running into thousands of euros. So if you are looking for cheap souvenirs, real Murano glass is not the thing to buy! You can also see glass making demonstrations in Murano, but be sure to check that there is a demonstration scheduled for that day. And it is normally not done in winter either.

San Michele Cemetery Island, Cimitero stop
San Michele Cemetery Island, Cimitero stop

Spend a day on the islands, mainly Murano, Burano and Torcello. There are boat services to all these islands at scheduled times, including between the islands themselves. Be prepared for long lines and long waits for the boats between islands. The Glass Museum in Murano and the Lace Museum in Burano are certainly worth a visit. In Burano you will find some of the most picturesque streets and houses, with each house sporting a different pastel shade. Its really beautiful. Though there is not much to see in Torcello except for the old church, the peace and tranquility of the island is not to be found anywhere else in Venice! Just walking around on these islands is a nice experience. If you've had enough of the hype and the other tourists, hop off the vaporetto at 'Cimitero', Venice's graveyard for a peaceful walk. There is also a free toilet there.

While going through Venice, make sure you take in the beauty of it all. Walk through the alley ways, and take the water taxi to different parts of the island, sometimes at night you can just go sit in a main area and watch people and tourists. It is wonderful. There are many museums and churches that are around the city that allow tourists to go in a visit. They are many great sights to keep you busy throughout your visit.

The “Secret Itineraries in Doge's Palace[25] worth a visit, take the visitor into the most secret and fascinating rooms in the Palace. It’s better to book in advance.

Because Venice is now pretty much only inhabited by tourists and people serving the trade, it gets very quiet by 9.00 and there is very little to do in the evening (outside of eating). There are a few exceptions, like some classical music concerts. If you want an entertaining evening whilst learning about the history of Venice then try: Carnival - The Show: Celebrating the Story of Venice'. It's in a rather splendid venue just next to St. Mark's Square - in the center. It uses very striking projections of video and painting and photos to completely change the auditorium. One moment you could be inside the famous Basilica, and the next, floating down the misty lagoons 1,400 years ago. There are live actors as well so it is fresh and feels like a proper show - and apart from being informative it can also be good fun. It plays pretty much every evening - and you can also buy a ticket for the meal with the show. You can find out more and book tickets on their website: [26].

If you would like to have a guide to show up the highlights of Venice, you can choose between many offers. There are walking or boat tours, focused on shopping or history or for art lovers, and many itineraries. One tours site is [27] and another is [28]. Context Venice [29] is a network of scholars who organize in-depth walks of the city's architecture, art, and history, including such unusual tours as an Ecology of Venice, a two-part seminar on Venetian Renaissance, Jewish Venice, and orientation walks of the Castello and Canareggio neighborhoods.

If you are the kind of person that prefer to find your way through the city on your own instead of being guided consider the Venice edition of The Ruyi, a series of guidebooks called whaiwhai [30] that turn visits to Venice into intriguing treasure hunts.

If you are interested in exploring all things related with Italian food you have to visit the freshly open "i Tre Mercanti" [31] (campo della guerra 2 mins from S.Marco square) an amazing food gallery where you can find typical Italian specialties, a wide range o f the best wines and the usual classics like Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, Limoncello along with hundreds of regional specialities (including 97 pasta sauces!). Classy and friendly the staff speak many languages and is open every day. If you don't feel like shopping you can always browse the shop and ask cooking tips and the history of products to the helpful manager.

Send a Postcard or even better, an entire mail dedicated to an important one (the old "snail mail" one, not the electronic variety)! Venice has a long, celebrated tradition in postal services, paper and written communication in general (including one of the earliest medival book printing houses).

Venice it's also Riviera del Brenta old canals. You can go with local rental bike services shop in Mira to see antique villa Pisani at Stra, old watermill and big open air market at Dolo and fresh milk at farm on Mira.


Venice is home to two major (and expanding) universities, Ca' Foscari and IUAV. There are possibly hundreds of smaller schools in the city.

  • Atelier Marega, [32]. A hand-made mask and costume shop.  edit
  • Fanny (gloves & accessories), Calle dei Saoneri / Campo San Polo 27/23 (100m west of Cà Foscari), 041 5228266 (). Hundreds of leather gloves in all colours.  edit
  • Francis Model (leather articles), Ruga Rialto / San Polo 773/A (100m SW of Rialto bridge), 041/5212889 (). Locally made leather bags. Exceptional craftsmanship.  edit
  • Venetia Studium (High end Scarves & Shawls), San Marco 2425 (calle Larga XXII Marzo), 041/5236953 (), [33]. Fine velvets and silks of every imaginable color are woven into delicate evening bags, scarves and pillows. The Company Venetia Studium produces in the Island the worldwide famous Fortuny Lamps  edit

If your time in Venice is limited, and if you don't know the city well (e.g. it's your first visit), then a piece of good general advice is that if you see something you really like, buy it right then and right there. Don't count on being able to find the shop again later on; for the neo-Venetian tourist, it's almost impossible.

Watch out also for the hand-made paper and the exquisite miniature buildings made by Moro. Watch out for fakes; Moro "signs" his name on the back. Also, beware of fakes and "free" trips to neighboring Murano for its famous glass. (See article for details.)

Tourist Traps: "Coloured Pasta" and "Venetian Limoncello" (not the original napolitan one) are not Italian food, no Italian would ever eat them, they are particularly made for tourists. There is one exception : In salizada San Giovanni Grisostomo N°5778, between Realto bridge and Corte del Milion ( where Marco Polo once lived)the firm Giacomo Rizzo (since 1905) has been making fresh and dried pasta continuosly for four generations using traditional hand and roller techniques followed by slow drying.Phone 0415222824.


Venice has some wonderful restaurants, featuring the cuisine of the Veneto. However it is widely regarded that the restaurants in Venice serve food of a quality and in quantities much lower than anywhere else in Italy. Specialties include polenta, made of corn meal; risotto with cuttlefish ink sauce. Diners should however be aware that for every genuinely wonderful restaurant or trattoria, there's another serving rubbish food at inflated prices, especially in the most touristed streets around San Marco. Rule of thumb: if there's a waiter outside pimping for business, it's probably best avoided.

Near the Rialto bridge there's a row of restaurants with tables by the canal, where you can have the quintessential Venice experience of dining by the canal lights. Although they do have waiters outside bugging you, some have pretty acceptable quality for price.

One of Venice's trademark foods is cuttlefish and its ink. This intense black ink serves as a sauce and ingredient for polenta (corn meal), risotto (rice), and pasta. These dishes are normally indicated by the Italian words "nella seppia" (in cuttlefish), "alla seppia" (in the style of cuttlefish), or "nero di seppia," (black of the cuttlefish). For example Polenta Nella Seppia is fried corn meal with the black ink of a cuttle fish. Despite the intensity in color, the ink has a surprisingly mild taste.

Be careful when the prices are in a weight basis (typically by the "etto", abbreviated "/hg". or 100 g). One dish can easily contain 400g of fish, meat (almost a pound),... 4 times the indicated base price!

Restaurants might offer low prices for food on their menus that they advertise outside the entrance, but they will sometimes compensate this by charging high prices for drinks (which is naturally *not* advertised). €5 for 33 cl of beer is not uncommon.

For fresh fruit (including chilled coconut!) watch out for the street market stalls.

To save money at lunch, eat standing up. Prices can arrive to as much as double as soon as you sit at a table. Minestrone soup is delicious but the server will often offer you a seat as soon as you choose this option. Sitting is worthwhile if you plan on staying a while. Some places will also serve free bread and water for seated patrons, but there is usually also a small charge (€1-3 per person) for "pane e coperto" (cover and bread).

If self-catering, the Rialto food markets are an absolute must for fruit, vegetables and cheese, but most of all for the huge range of seafood, much of it fresh out of the lagoon and still moving! Everything else you will find in the numerous super markets in the city.

Head to the Dorsoduro area of Venice if you want to save a few euros. It has the highest concentration of places where locals, especially students, go to eat. Generally staying away from the main squares will be the cheapest option. If you're willing and able to walk around the town, some back streets offer the best food for the lowest price. Seeing the city from this vantage point is a lot of fun too!

  • "Pizzeria ae Oche" is a local establishment with several locations in the city. The food is plentiful and the prices reasonable. On Calle del Tintor south of Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, In Santa Croce. Look to spend between €5-10 for a pizza depending on how exotic your selection is.
  • "Pizza al volo" sells superb pizza by the (extremely large) slice in Campo Santa Margherita for approximately €1.80 a slice, €5 a whole pizza. It is by the fresh fish stall under a green awning.
  • "Cip ciap", on Calle del Mondo Novo, by Campo Santa Maria Formosa, also sells delicious takeaway pizza by the slice (or slab) at similar prices. They also serve very tasty mini pizzas per kilogram.
  • The "Brek" is a cafeteria style restaurant that offers a menu including main meal+drink+dessert for only €5. There is one close to the train station and another at the Marco Polo airport.
  • Venetian snacks (cichetti) can be brilliantly inventive, in small "tapas-style" serving sizes. Look for places (especially wine bars) popular with non-tourists, the prices are very reasonable.
  • There are still many small bakery shops and "biavaroli" where you can buy bread, cheese etc., particularly near the Rialto market area. If you want to buy water (Venice has excellent free tap water easily accessible at the numerous fountains located outside throughout the city) it is usually cheapest to get it at the supermarkets: there are Billa or Co-op stores located throughout the city, though supermarkets are often "disguised" in nondescript buildings in Venice for space limitations.


Please give prices

  • La Bitta, Dorsoduro 2753A, calle lunga, san Barnaba, tel 523 0531. This busy but friendly restaurant is in the more studenty area of Dorsoduro, and attracts a mixture of locals and tourists. They have some excellent Italian dishes, which are reflected in the prices, plus they have a great selection of wines. Meals served 6:30PM-11PM, closed in August.
  • Osteria alla Botte, San Marco 5482 (campo San Bartolomeo), 041 5209775, [34]. A bacaro 100 m east of Rialto bridge and surprisingly quiet. Large square pictures of seafood decorate the walls, and friendly staff are swift and helpful. The dishes are mainly seafood, and there is a good wine selection provided. The prices are reasonable for Venice.  edit
  • Osteria Al Cravatte, Santa Croce 36/37 (500m east from Piazzale Roma). This little restaurant is frequented by the professors of the nearby university. Warm welcome and a good eat.Try their raw artichoke salad or their fish of the day. €40 for three-courses meal with wine.  edit
  • Do Farai, Dorsoduro 3278 (100m west of Cà Foscari), 041 2770369. Very fresh shell fish. Taste their spaghetti al dente with razor shells.  edit
  • Gianni, Zattere 918. tel +39 041.523 7210. This is a very friendly family restaurant overlooking the Guidecca Canal. The menu starts at €8.50 pizzas and pastas. The wine selection is good with many available in a choice of 250 cL, 375 cL and 750 cL bottles. The interior is almost art deco and surprisingly light. It is used by a lot of regulars, both local and returning tourists. They are closed on Wednesdays and between Christmas and Festival.
  • Osteria Mocenigo, Salizada San Stae (near the Mocenigo museum), 041 5231703. Closed on Monday. Little restaurant frequented by locals. Be sure to try their antipasti. Excellent desserts too. €40 for two-courses meal with wine.  edit
  • Timon (eno - ostaria), Fondamenta degli Ormesini (south-east of the Jewish Ghetto). Warm and local atmosphere in this little osteria where they serve great Italian vintages by the glass. If you're adventurous, try their tasty tripe. Good music inside, some table by the canal in the summer. €30.  edit
  • Al Vecio Canton, Castello 4738 [35]. Just 8 minutes from Piazza San Marco (200 m NE), this small and atmospheric restaurant/pizzeria will absolutely enchant you. Famous for its traditional style pizza and seafood pasta, you will not only get it all at affordable prices (pizza from €6, pasta from €8, wine from €5/half litre), but you're also served by a most friendly and hearty staff. They top it off with a free home made digestivo (mostly vodka and lemon) at the end of your meal, just to make 100% sure you'll be coming back for more.
  • Trattoria Veneziana, Sestiere Santa Croce, 285 (200m SE of Piazzale Roma), 041 710749. Warm welcome, good cooking (try their mixed grilled fishes), frequented by locals and tourists. €35 for two-course meal with wine.  edit
  • Antico Dolo, San Polo 778 [36]. A old seafood restaurant in Venice close to Rialto bridge: food comes from the adjacent Rialto Market daily. A complete dinner excluding wines could cost €35 each more or less.
  • Al Giardinetto, Castello 4928. [37]. Just behind the Piazza San Marco, this restaurant has a large private courtyard welcoming guests during good season. Seafood courses and Venitian specialities are served by Severino family.
  • Vino Vino, (between La Fenice Opera House and via XXII Marzo), offers typical Venetian cuisine and snacks at medium prices. The largest selection of top-quality italian and imported wines (over 350) available by the glass or by bottle.Close to St. Mark's Square, it is a unique place that can exist only in Venice, where backpackers chat with baronessas, gondoliers with golfers, and where Venetians discover new vistas.Open non-stop from 11.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. phone: 041 2417688 www [38][39],
  • Il Refolo, S. Croce, 1459, 041.5240016. Nice restaurant at a small piazza. Very good pizza (~10€) as well as a decent menu. €60 for a four-course meal with wine.  edit
  • Antico Martini Restaurant (since 1720) A luxury restaurant, favorite among the famous names of culture and business, the Antico Martini also attracts expert gourmets and famous personalities since the 1800s who come to enjoy unforgettable flavors. Beautiful detail and restaurant decor, romantic atmosphere. Address: Campiello della Fenice, S. Marco 2007 - 30124 Venice - ITALY Tel.(+ 39) - 0415224121 or 041 5237027 Fax (+ 39) - 041 5289857 Open all days [40][41], .
  • Restaurant Antiche Carampane, San Polo 1911 Venice, phone +39 041 5240165 [42]. Situated in the heart of Venice, only steps away from the Rialto Bridge, is this renowned restaurant where distinguished Venitian cuisine is served in a familiar setting.
  • Restaurant La Caravella, Via XXII Marzo 2398 Venice, phone +39 041 5208901 [43]. Historical place, very near St. Mark's Square, known since the 60's and has become a must if you like traditions. Open every day all year round, offers, together some typical dishes a large selection of wines. From May to September service is in a tradtional courtyard.
  • Do Leoni, Hotel Londra Palace. Amazing food, for a really quite reasonable price if you consider other prices in this city.
  • Do Forni, near St Marks. Very expensive and not realy very nice food.
  • Pasticceria Tonolo, Dorsoduro 3764/5 (Crosera San Pantalon, 400m east of Piazzale Roma), 041 523 7209. An 120 year old patisserie. Taste their cake with crystallized fruits or their marzipan cake.  edit
  • Bar Pasticceria Gilda Vio, Rio Marin 784, S. Croce. Best tiramisu, at least in S. Croce.  edit

Ice Cream

You will find ice cream all over the city, and you will hardly survive a hot summer day without. Prices are 1 - 1.50€ for one scoop, 2.50 - 3.50€ for three scoops.


Although there are many fantastic bars in Venice, if you're planning a night time "pub crawl" you should plan a few places to visit in advance, otherwise it's very easy to waste an hour wandering aimlessly in search of a watering hole that's actually open (especially midweek).

There are two late-night drinking areas in Venice. Piazza San Marco is not one of them. Although it is very pleasant and there are many people wandering around late. But the actual late night scene is in either Campo Santa Margherita, near the University Ca' Foscari in Dorsoduro; or in Erbaria on the West side of the Rialto Bridge where the main vegetable market is held during the day.

Try a Spritz (with either Campari, Select or Aperol), a typical drink loved by all Venetians that's usually drunk while eating cicheti. You can find it in almost every bar in the city. Price is about €2, more in a touristy place.

If you try the famous Veneto Grappa be careful--it's almost pure alcohol.

The Bellini was invented in Harry's Bar in Venice. It is a mix of white peach juice and Prosecco (the ubiquitous Venetian Champagne-like sparkling wine). Fermented at a low temperature Prosecco develops amylic aromas (fruit drops), though these perhaps mix better with fruit juices than does the more austere Champagne. Classic Bellinis should never be made with Champagne. Although by normal standards expensive, a Bellini in Harry's Bar (€17 for a 1.5 oz drink is obscene) is still much cheaper than on the terraces of similar '5-star' establishments in the city.

Beer in a small pub is about €5 for a pint (birra media).

Espresso, the real italian, is about €1 at the bar, €2 at a table.

  • Devils Forest Pub. A traditional English style pub with a very fun atmosphere. It is located near the Rialto Bridge and tucked into a small alley near the Disney Store.
  • Pub Taverna L'Olandese Volante, Campo San Lio, Castello 5856, Venezia, ph +39 041.5289349. It is located between The Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. During the summertime there are tables outside when you can easily sit and rest after a day of wandering around this marvelous city. What is more, during the day pasta and other typical dishes are served at a budget price.
  • There are two Irish pubs in Venice. One is located along the Strada Nova in Cannaregio; the other one is the Inishark just before Campo Santa Maria Formosa.


Hotels in Venice are expensive. Some of the smaller hotels offer better rates.

Staying in a hotel on the Lido (15-20 minutes by Vaporetto) is a cheaper alternative to staying in Venice proper. The island of Lido also has a long beach where tourists and Venetians alike go swimming during the summer months.

In the last few years, holiday or short rentals apartments have increased in number and quality, now you can rent (minimum stay is usually 3 nights) a Palazzo on the Grand Canal as a little flat near Rialto.

Some Italians at the train station may approach you to find out if you need a room. While some of these people may be con artists, not all are. Some work for family members and will be able to negotiate a price for you. They will usually ask what your budget is and will call a hotel or two to see if the owner will accept the price you suggested. Do not accept the offer if you think the situation is suspect or think you may be exploited. Always get a receipt for the transactions!

If you are presentable, and you plan to stay in Venice for at least a few weeks, drop into the apartment rental agencies. These are usually for a minimum of 6 months but they often know people who are renting out apartments for shorter durations.

  • Antica Casa Coppo [44], San Marco 4320/1/2 Venice, ph +39 041 5233585 fax +39 041 2770843. Antica Casa Coppo, delightful boarding rooms in the heart of historical Venice.
  • Bed and Breakfast Venice Ca' del Pozzo [45], Venice, ph +39 041.2413875 fax +39 041.2443203. Ca' del Pozzo is a brand new bed and breakfast in Venice, completely restructured in 2003 and situated in the characteristic Campo San Maurizio, a couple of steps from the famous La Fenice Theatre and just a few minutes from St. Mark's Square.
  • Bed and Breakfast Ca' delle Acque [46], Venice, ph +39.041.2411277 fax +39 041.2414112. Ca' delle Acque is a well situated Accommodation, just 2 minutes from S.Mark's square and Rialto Bridge. Rooms from 69 EUR.
  • Faronhof b&b [47], Venice, ph +39.041.428262 fax +39 041.5631829. British family run b&b near to downtown Venice. Rooms from 45 EUR.
  • Ai Tolentini, Calle Amai, Santa Croce 197/G, 30135. Tel: +39 041 2759140, fax: +39 041 2753266, [48]. Near Piazzale Roma and the train station. Doubles from €65.
  • Ai Do Mori, St. Marco 658, 30124. Tel: +39 041 5204817, fax: +39 041 5205328, [49]. As close as it gets to Piazza San Marco, but on the second and third floor, so it still is quiet at nights. Clean and nice rooms, tv, aircon, very friendly staff. Doubles from €55/night.
  • Alloggi Agli Artisti, Calle Priuli Cavalletti 99, Venice historical center, [50]. Alloggi agli Artisti is a brand new hotel in a convenient location: only 150 meters away from the main central Venice railway station (Santa Lucia). Guests can choose between rooms with bathroom ensuite (with hairdryer), and rooms with sharing bathroom on the floor (cheaper). From €50 to €90 for a double room, depending on the season.
  • Alloggi La Gondola, Calle del Forno 180 (Follow the canale grande, after crossing the big station bridge turn west for 150 m (164 yd)). From €20.
  • Antico Fiore [51], San Marco 3486, tel +39.041.5227941 fax +39.041.2413879. An eighteenth-century building which has been carefully restored. Easy and quick access to the vaparetto and located near charming shops and old churches. Really great gelato nearby. Rooms from 65 EUR.
  • BedandBreakfastVenice Querini San Marco, Castello 3520, Venice. Tel. +39 339 5309009. [52]. Not just a B&B, a few minutes from S. Marco. Studios from €80.
  • B&B La Rosa dei Venti Castello 2143, tel. +39 041 2413133, fax +39 041 7241062 [53]. Very beautiful, spacious rooms in lovely Venetian style along with large bathrooms. Good and filling breakfasts. Well situated near San Marco Square.
  • B&B Venezia, via Degan 7, Venezia-Mestre [54](10 minutes by city-bus from center of Venice). B&B is a young Venetian organization that offers accommodation in a new structure made up of single and double bedrooms, all with private services, air conditioning, room bar, digital television with infrared-control, safe-box that can hold a portable computer. From € 40 per person/night.
  • Ca' del Dose, Castello, 3801 - Venice, ph +39 041 5209887 fax +39 041 2774098 [55]. Ca' del Dose: a completely restored Venetian inn, just steps from St. Mark’s Square.
  • Ca' Fontanea Guest House, Canareggio, 786 - Campiello delle Beccarie, +39 041.716648 (, fax: +39 041.2759458), [56]. Located near the rail station, the rooms are simple but clean and they have air conditioning. For longer stays check into their apartments.  edit
  • Ca' Rialto, Riva del Ferro, San Marco 5149 - Venice, ph +39.041.5209166 fax +39.041.5238958 [57]. Located in a building overlooking the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. Singles from €50, doubles from €60 (extra bed €30).
  • Casa Tanzi Appartements, San Polo 1495, 30100, ph +39.041.2412550 fax +39 041.2412550, [58]. Located between the Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square and a stones throw from the Vaparetto stop. Rooms are filled with Venetian Elegance with colorful silk wallpaper and matching canopy hanging over the bed. Look for their special internet pricing.
  • Hotel CaSa Linger, Fondamtenta St.Antonin castello 3541, [59]. €22-40 per person/night. Close to both Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square, this budget hotel is a good deal in Venice.
  • Hotel Diana, Calle Specchieri 449, 30124 , Venezia [60] ph +39.041.5206911 fax +39.041.5238763. The Hotel Diana has good prices on rooms, and is only 100 yards from the front entrance to the Basilica San Marco. Excellent location to see the city, rooms at around €70 per person per night.
  • Hotel Serenissima, Calle Goldoni 4486, San Marco 30124 , Venezia [61] ph +39.041. 5200011 fax +39.041 5223292. The Hotel Serenissima was completely refurbished at the start of 2007 and is a one minute walk from the Piazza San Marco. Simple and comfortable rooms from around €80 per person per night.
  • Locanda Gaffaro, Dorsoduro 3589, 30123 ph +39.041.2750897 fax +39.041.2750375 [62]. Locanda Gaffaro is in a picturesque court near Piazzale Roma. Doubles from around €100.
  • Locanda Sant'Anna, C.te del Bianco, Castello 269 [63]. One star. Locanda Sant'Anna of Venice is located only 3 minutes from the Gardens of the Biennale, providing a family atmosphere complete with modern comforts. Single from €35, Double from €45. Quiet hotel with secure courtyard and wonderful rooms, some with a canal view (for a higher price) overlooking the peaceful Isola di San Pietro. Common balcony over the canal. Includes typical Italian breakfast from 8AM-9:30AM with coffee or hot chocolate and rolls, croissants, and toast. Easily accessible from the main bus/train station by vaporetto to stop 'S. Pietro' or 'Giardini'. Doors close at 1AM. Pay in cash for a discount.
  • Pensione Seguso Venice , D.D.779, 30123, Venezia [64] ph +39.041. 5286858 fax +39.041. 5222340. The Pensione Seguso is a charming traditional Italian Pensione with affordable accommodation overlooking the waterfront close to San Marco. A building and hotel with a long history, the spacious and light rooms start from €60 per person per night.
  • Residenza Laguna Venice , S. Polo n° 1016, 30123, Venezia [65] Ph. +39.041. 2960575 Fax +39.041. 2447441. The Residenza Laguna is a great little b&b close to Ponte Rialto bridge with spacious and stylish rooms. Nice family run accommodation starting from €70 a head per night.
  • Venice Hostel, Fondamenta Zitelle 86, Isola della Giudecca, +39-041-5238211 (fax: +39-041-5235689), [66]. One of many hostels in Venice. This hostel is in Giudecca (which means a short boat ride to the rest of Venice). Just a bed: clean, cheap and reasonable.  edit

Please give prices

  • Ateneo Hotel Venice, San Marco 1876, 30124, ph +39.041. 5200777 fax +39.041 5228550. The Hotel Ateneo Venice is close to Basilica San Marco and is a quality 3 star hotel. Rooms start at around €120 depending on season and the convenient location comes in handy.
  • Antica Casa Carettoni Venice , Lista di Spagna 130, 30121, Venezia [68] ph +39.041. 716231 fax +39.041. 2750973. The Hotel Antica Casa Carettoni Venice lies close to Santa Lucia Train Station and the waterbus stops, making it easy to get to and easy to see the city from. This recently restructured 3 star hotel sits in an old convent and offers quality accommodation starting at aroud €120-130 for a room for two.
  • Antica Casa Coppo, San Marco 4320/1/2, tel +39 041 5233585, fax +39 041 2770843. Classic Venetian styled rooms starting at €100 a night. The location near the Rialto Bridge makes this hotel one of the more popular properties for budget minded travelers. Also has wifi internet.
  • Antico Casin Locanda Corte Contarina, San Marco 1520/a, tel +39-041.5207002 fax +39-041.795122[69]. A refined example of contemporary design, located close to Saint Mark's Square. Doubles from €90.
  • Ca' Valeri [70] Castello - Ramo dei Corazzieri 3845 tel +39 041.2411530 fax +39 041.2415392. Ca' Valeri welcomes guests into its luxury residence where an atmosphere of charm and comfort defines an ambience of class. Double from 100 EUR.
  • Bisanzio Hotel Riva Schiavoni, Calle della Pietà, 3651 Castello, tel +39 041.5203100 fax +39 041.5204114 [71]. Located behind St. Mark's Square. Recently renovated, this hotel is contemporary looking. Accented with beamed wood ceilings and walls to give a touch of elegence.
  • Ca' Amadi, Cannaregio 5815, 30121, tel +39 041.5204682 fax +39 041.5206701 [72]. Ca' Amadi is situated at the heart of the old town center of Venice, extremely close to the famous Rialto Bridge and 10 minutes from Piazza San Marco. This 13th century palace was once home to Marco Polo. Décor is keeping with the period, and the rooms are utterly charming. Original wall fresco’s from the 1400’s adorn the hotel.
  • Ca' Bauta, Castello 6457, tel +39 041 2413787,, fax +39 0415212313, [73]. Located in the in the city’s historic centre, Ca' Bauta captures the spirit and splendor of Venice. Housed in a 15th Century building, this quaint hotel has very spacious rooms with high ceilings and is adorned with stylish furniture and fittings. To make the most of your stay in Venice, Ca' Bauta has a friendly, multilingual staff who are always eager to assist you in planning tours, booking concert tickets, and making restaurant reservations. Rates from €70 per night
  • Ca' Della Corte (B&B + appartments), Dorsoduro, 3560 - Corte Surian (300 m SE of Piazzale Roma), +39.041.715877 (, fax: +39.041.722345), [74]. A comfortable B&B in a quiet area of Venice. Warm and personal welcome. Breakfast (served in the room) could be improved (by going to pasticceria Tonolo and bringing your own cakes e.g.). Junior suite €140.  edit
  • Casa dei Pittori, S. Croce 1032 a, +39 3491706428, [75]. Casa dei Pittori Venice Apartments offers guests several apartments in an ancient palace totally restored, located in Venice city centre. €130-340 (weekly rates available).  edit
  • Continental Hotel Venice – Lista di Spagna – Cannaregio, 166 - Cap: 30100, Venice, Italy.[76]. Telephone +39 041 71 5122 • Fax +39 041 524 2432. This three star hotel is in the Canneregio district and the Jewish Getto. A very typical area of Venice, also close to the train station. The Continental Hotel is an historic building belonged to a noble family, with 93 bedrooms (95-194 euros) capable to host any kind of guests.
  • Corte 1321 San Polo 1321, 30124 Venice, ph +39.041.5224923 fax+39.041.0997849. Located near the Rialto Bridge, owners Larry and Amelia do a wonderful job at making your stay perfect. Large spacious rooms with double sink bathrooms ensure a comfortable stay. Lovely courtyard for dining is made memorable with local birds strutting and cooing. Double rooms from €100. Double rooms from €100.
  • Domus Ciliota, Calle delle Muneghe - S. Marco [77]. Just a 5-10 minute walk from San Marco's Square, this is a good base for exploring Venice. The hotel has over fifty clean, basic, air-conditioned rooms all with shower and WC. The reception is English speaking and is open 24 hours. There is an area for leaving baggage after you've checked out. Single rooms are €70-85 and doubles are €100-110 including breakfast.
  • Helvetia Hotel Venice – Gran Viale, 4 – Cap: 30126, Lido di Venezia – Italy. [78]. Telephone +39 041 5260105 • Fax +39 041 5268903. Large option of rooms for this three star hotel offering 57 bedrooms with air conditioning and private en-suite service. The Helvetia Hotel is on the island of Lido, where every year is held the famous film festival, and is connected to the main island of Venice and San Mark square by the efficient system of water boats. The hotel is closed between October and April. The price for a double is around €150.
  • Hotel al Sole, Santa Croce 134/136, 30124 ph +39 041.2440328 fax +39 041.722287, [79] Al Sole Hotel is a first class Hotel, situated in a noble palace built in the beginning of the 15th century, a short distance from Piazzale Roma. Doubles from €80.
  • Hotel Ala, San Marco 2494 (campo Santa Maria dei Gigli), tel +39 041 5208333, fax +39 041 5206390 [80]. Good price for a good location. Breakfast is better than most, they have eggs and broiled tomatoes with cheese. Rooms were a typical size but clean, comfortable and quiet. They have turndown service at night, a pleasant surprise. Double rooms from €110.
  • Hotel Alla Salute Da Cici Salute 222, Fondamenta Ca' Balà, Venice ph +39 041.5235404 fax +39 041.5222271[81]. A 16th-century palazzo, a stone's throw from Piazza San Marco and easily reachable from the station and Piazzale Roma. Doubles from €80.
  • Hotel All’Angelo Venice , San Marco 403, 30124, Venezia [82] ph +39.041. 5209299 fax +39.041. 2743555. The Hotel All’Angelo has been run by the same family since 1924 in a 17th century building close to St Marks Basilica. Comfortable and stylishly decorated rooms with a double somewhere in the region of €150.
  • Hotel Antica Locanda al Gambero Calle dei Fabbri - San Marco 4687, 30124 Venice ph +39 041.5224384 fax +39 041.5200431. Single rooms from €90, Double from €110 (150€ if you want to choose a room facing the Canal).
  • Hotel Antico Panada San Marco 646, tel +39 041.5209088 fax +39 041.5209619 [83]. Welcoming Venetian hotel, in the heart of the Sestiere (District) of San Marco, has rooms decorated in an 18th century Venetian style. Double Room rates range from €145 to €310.
  • Hotel Antico Palazzo Gottardi, Cannaregio 2283 3000 Venice tel +39 041 2759333 +39 041 2759421 [84]. Antico Palazzo Gottardi stands in Strada Nuova, in the heart of the old city centre of Venice, between two buildings that look down onto the Canal Grande. Double from €120.
  • Hotel Basilea Venice , S. Croce-Rio Marin, 817, 30135, Venezia [85] ph +39.041. 718477 fax +39.041. 720851. The Hotel Basilea sits just across the Grand Canal from Santa Lucia Train Station. Located in a quiet Calle, it offers excellent value accommodation that is in a central location. Double rooms are usually around €100-160 depending on season.
  • Hotel Becher,San Marco 1857, tel +39.041.5221253 fax +39.041.5212685 [86]. This 18th century hotel enhanced by the most modern amenities, charming atmosphere and impeccable service. Single rooms from €70, doubles €110 and triples from €170.
  • Hotel Belle Arti , Dorsoduro 912a, 30100, ph +39 041 5226230, fax +39 041 5280043[87]. The Hotel Belle Arti Venice sits in the heart of Dorsoduro, good central location. Room rates start from, depending on demand, €100 up to €220.
  • Hotel Belle Epoque , Cannaregio 127/128 - Lista Di Spagna, 30123, ph +39 041 240004, fax +39 041 2750159, [88]. The Hotel Belle Epoque situated on the Lista di Spagna close to the Train Station offers quality rooms at good rates. Rooms start from €90 all the way up to €200.
  • Hotel Cà D'Oro, Calle delle Rasse, Castello 4604, 30121 Venice tel +39 041.2411212 fax +39 041.2414385 [89]. The hotel is in a quiet corner of Cannaregio district, only 5 minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge and 10 minutes from St. Mark. Singles from €60, doubles from €80
  • Hotel Canaletto Venice , Castello 5487, 30122, Venezia [90] ph +39.041. 52 20 518 fax +39.041. 52 29 023. The Hotel Canaletto Venice sits along a scenic canal close to St. Mark’s Basilica. Decorated and furnished in the traditional Venetian manner, this hotel offers excellent service and rooms that will make you feel at home at once in this stunning city. Tranquil and scenic, a room for two starts at around €110.
  • Hotel Capri Santa Croce 595, 30135, ph +39.041.2752300 fax +39.041.2752350. [91] It is situated in a peaceful zone close to the arrival's terminals and main Venetian attraction's points. Doubles from around €140.
  • Hotel Continental, Lista di Spagna, Cannaregio 166, tel +39.041.715122 fax +39.041.5242432 [92].Right on the Canal Grande, the Hotel Continental is the ideal spot for an unforgettable vacation in Venice. Single rooms from €93, doubles from €155 and triples from €194 including taxes and breakfast.
  • Hotel Commercio e Pellegrino, Calle delle Rasse, Castello 4551/A, 30122 Venice tel +39 041.5207922 fax +39 041.5225016 [93]. The Hotel Commercio e Pellegrino is a comfortable hotel in the centre of the city, easy to reach by public transport and just 2 minutes on foot to Saint Mark’s Square. Single rooms from €80, doubles from €100 including taxes and breakfast.
  • Hotel Firenze Venice , San Marco, 1490, 30124, Venezia [94] ph +39.041. 5222858 fax +39.041. 5202668. The Hotel Firenze Venice is snuggled in a sidestreet of Piazza San Marco, and offers bright and comfortable rooms in a neighbourhood full of artisans, boutiques, artists and small galleries. A buzzing area from which to see the city, rooms start at around €120 a double/twin.
  • Hotel Helvetia Venice Lido , Gran Viale, 4, Lido di Venezia, 30126, ph 0039 041 5260105, fax +39 041 5268903 [95]. The Hotel Helvetia Venice offers quality accommodation on Venice Lido close to beaches and the only golf course on the islands. Rooms start from (depending on the season): €70 up to €160.
  • Hotel il Mercante di Venezia , Calle della Misericordia, 30121, Venezia [96]ph +39.041. 2759290 fax +39.041. 2759294. The Mercante di Venezia sits just off the Lista di Spagna by the Grand Canal and offers excellent access to the Station (Santa Lucia) and the waterbuses. Delicately apointed rooms from around €145.
  • Hotel Lisbona Venice , San Marco 2153, 30124, Venezia [97] ph +39.041. 5286774 fax +39.041. 5207061. The Hotel Lisbona is in the picturesque area just in front of Piazza San Marco and has luxurious three star rooms decorated in the grand Venetian style at reasonable rates. Double rooms are usually around €140.
  • Hotel Marconi Venice, Riva del Vin, San Paolo, 729, 30125, ph +39.041. 52 22 068 fax+39.041. 52 29 700. The Hotel Marconi overlooks the Grand Canal and famous Rialto Bridge. It has been a hotel since the 1930 and has a very interesting art deco style, with rooms going for around €150, or for a little more with a canal view.
  • Hotel Montecarlo Venice , Calle degli Specchieri, 30124, Venezia [98] ph +39.041. 5207144 fax +39.041. 5207789. The Hotel Montecarlo Venice offers fantastic 3 star superior rooms and services literally one hundred yards from the entrance to Basilica San Marco. An area rich with shops and restaurants, rooms start at around €130 a double.
  • Hotel Nazionale Venice – Lista di Spagna 158 - Cap: 30121, Venice, Italy. [99]. Telephone +39 041 716133 • Fax +39 041 715318. The Nazionale Hotel is a convenient three star accommodation with 90 bedrooms divided in single, double, twin, triple and family, located only 100 metres away from the train station of Santa Lucia. At the Nazionale Venice the price varies according to the size of the room: €80 for a single and €160 for a family.
  • Hotel Palazzo Guardi Dorsoduro 995, 30123, ph +39 041 2960725 fax +39 041 7241067. [100] A stone's throw from the Accademia, is this noble Venetian palace, rooms equipped with all comforts. Double room from €80.
  • Hotel San Giorgio, Rio Terà della Mandola, San Marco 3781 30124 Venice, ph +39 041.5235835 fax +39 041.5228072 [101]. The hotel is in Venice between Campo Sant'Angelo and Campo Manin in an antique gothic palace bought by Mariano Fortuny. Single rooms from €60, doubles from €90, triples from €120.
  • Hotel San Moise Venice, San Marco 2058, 30124, ph +39.041. 5203755 fax +39.041. 5210670. The Hotel San Moise sits in the district of the same name just behind Piazza San Marco and the Basilica. Starting in the region of €120-140 for a double room, a good 3 star in a decent location.
  • Hotel Tiepolo, Castello 4510, 30122 Venice. ph +39 041 5232415 fax +39 041.5208222 [102]. Small and elegant, Hotel Tiepolo is an exemplary design hotel in the historic heart of Venice, a few steps away from Saint Mark's Square. Doubles from around €200.
  • Hotel Violino D'Oro Via XXII Marzo 2091, San Marco, 30124 Venice ph +39 041.2770841 fax +39 041.2771001. [103] Hotel Violino d’Oro is synonymous with true Venetian style. It is ideal for those looking for an experience characterized by taste and tradition in this age-old city with magical ambiance. Single rooms from €40, Double from €70.
  • Locanda Orseolo [104]. Located only a 3 minutes walk from St. Peter's Square, this Venice hotel is lovingly operated by a multi-lingual Venitian family who offer impeccable concierge service. Room rates are generally €150 to €200, which is actually quite reasonable for its central location.
  • Residenza Cà Bauta, Castello, 6457, 30122, Venezia [105] ph +39.041. 2413787 fax +39.041. 5212313. The Ca' Bauta is situated few steps far from Campo ss. Giovanni e Paolo, one of the most spectacular place of Venice, thanks to the Renaissance façade of Scuola Grande of S. Marco, to the important mass of the temple which keeps mortal remains of doges and patricians, to the equestrian monument dedicated to Colleoni, and few minutes far from Piazza S. Marco. Double rooms are usually around €100-160 depending on season.
  • Residenza Cá Malipiero Venice – Castello 4852 - Cap: 30122, Venice, Italy. [106]. Telephone +39 041 2770939 • Fax +39 041 5289845. An historic building of the 16th century with a large selection of extremely elegant single, double rooms and suites, capable to host up to four people and equipped with the best modern services expected by a three star guest house of Venice. The Ca Malipiero Hotel also boasts a superb position: in the Santa Maria Formosa district, behind the Ponte dei Sospiri bridge and St Mark’s Square. The rates start from 110 euros.


Please give prices

  • Hotel Al Codega , Corte del Forno Vecchio - St. Marco, 4435, 30124, Venezia [107]ph +39.041. 2413288 fax+39.041. 2414621. The Hotel Al Codega is situated in a picturesque little ‘cortile’ or courtyard, which is a short walk from Piazza San Marco. A brand new hotel, its elegant rooms offer excellent value for the luxury they offer, rooms from 200-300 Euro.
  • Hotel Bonvecchiati, San Marco 4488, 30124 Venice ph +39 041.5285017 fax +39 041.5285230 [108]. The Hotel Bonvecchiati, which has been welcoming guests to the heart of Venice since 1790, is just 3 minutes from Saint Mark's Square and 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge. Prices dependent on the kind of accommodation and on the season.
  • Hotel Ca' dei Conti, Castello 4429, 30122, ph +39.041.2770500, fax +39.041.2770727 [109]. A dream vacation in a luxurious building dating back to the XVIII century, just a stroll from St. Mark's Square. Room rates start from €155 fo a double single use, €200 for a double room, €320 for a suite.
  • Hotel Carlton Grand Canal, Fondamenta S.Pantalon, Santa Croce 578, 30135, ph +39 041.2752200, fax +39 041.2752250[110]. The Carlton and Grand Canal Hotel overlooks the Grand Canal and is the perfect starting point for discovering the beauty of Venice. Room rates start from (depending on the season): from €150 untill €250.
  • Hotel Ca' Vendramin, Cannaregio 2400, 30100, ph +39.041.2750125 fax +39.041.2750543. [111] In the heart of Venice, this hotel showcases original frescos, fine fabric and Murano glass chandeliers which define a unique atmosphere, in pure Venetian style. Double classic from €160 and junior suite from €260.
  • Hotel Dei Dragomanni, Calle del Dose da Ponte, 2711, 30124, ph +39 041.2771300 fax +39 041.2778984. [112] Enveloped in the timeless charm of an ancient Venetian palazzo, the 4-star Hotel dei Dragomanni welcomes guests to downtown Venice. Double room from €155.
  • Hotel Grande Italia, Rione St.Andrea, 597 (P.tta Vigo) 30015 CHIOGGIA, ph+39.041.400515 fax +39.041.400185 [113]. Hotel Grande Italia is in an early 20th century building in the prettiest spot of Chioggia, in front of the Venice Lagoon. Doubles starting from €110.
  • Hotel Giorgione, Calle Larga dei Proverbi, Cannaregio 4587, +39 041.5225810 (fax: +39 041.5239092), [114]. In the heart of romantic Venice, just 10 minutes from Piazza San Marco, it was transformed into a hotel at the beginning of the 19th century and has been managed by the same family ever since. Singles from €105 e Doubles from €150.  edit
  • Hotel Rialto, Riva del Ferro/Ponte di Rialto, San Marco 5149 [116]. This luxury four star hotel enjoys a spectacular position at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, in the centre of all that this legendary city has to offer. Room rates start from €160 for a double room, the hotel has 79 rooms in total, 28 of which are overlooking the Grand Canal.
  • Hotel Royal San Marco, San Marco, 848, +39 041.5287665 (, fax: +39 041.5226628), [117]. Price Range From € 100,00 to € 350,00 per room, per night including breakfast. (45.43459163685616,12.337785959243774) edit



The area code is 041. As anywhere in Italy, it is compulsory to dial the area code and the number also if you call from the city itself. If you call from abroad, dial +39041 before the number. If you call abroad from Venice, dial 00 first.


Venice has several internet cafes, but they are much more expensive than the rest of Europe with prices for an hour of access around €6. Wi-fi is only available at some of them. There's a wonderful pub, Cafe Blue in Dorsoduro, which has free (password-protected) wi-fi. Buy a spritz and a panini and go to town. At the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Campo San Salvatore (San Marco) you can browse for free for one hour, once registered with your ID card.

If you buy any of the VeniceCard [118] products (transportation and museum entrance in various combinations) of 24 or more hours' duration, it will automatically include, either at no additional charge or for an extra €3 depending on the season, the access codes for the municipal wireless network. There are currently two areas covered by the hotspots: one is the San Marco Square and the other San Giuliano Park (which is actually on the mainland, to the north of the bridge entrance).

To use an Internet cafe, buy a mobile SIM card or get a contract for an Internet connection documentation is needed by law in Italy. Internet cafes will not let you use computers without a passport or national ID card.

Calle Delle Botteghe San Marco 2970 Venezia. A very pretty art gallery type internet cafe with a book shop. It is on the expensive side with €3 for 15mins but you can just go in and play chess with a glass of wine.

Stay safe

Venice is considered a safe city. One can walk down the darkest alley in the middle of the night and feel completely safe. You have to take the habitual travellers precautions however. Keep your valuable items (like wallet and passport) close to you because there are pickpockets, especially in more crowded parts of the city. In addition, make sure you get receipts for all of your purchases (in order to fight tax evasion). Italian law requires customers to retain receipts and you could (in theory) be stopped by the Financial Police and asked to show receipts for your purchases. In case of need, you can dial free of charge on any phone 112 (no area code needed) to contact Carabinieri or 113 (no area code needed) to contact the Police.

Stay healthy

Venice has begun to install septic tanks in buildings, but much of the city has not yet been upgraded and releases untreated sewage directly into the canals. Avoid bathing yourself, touching the water, immersing feet, etc. in the canals looking for refreshment in hot season. Shoes and clothing that touch the water will be contaminated. Take care not to spread the contamination.

One other consideration is at night, to carry a small flashlight. There are many alleys, which end in the water but have little or no lighting. They have no signposts because the locals know them.

Beware where you put your feet: pet owners are not often polite and leave everything their friends by-produce on the ground (this may apply to humans too). Small, dark, back alleys are often similar to mine fields.

In case of need, you can reach the emergency medical service dialing free of charge on any phone 118 (no area code needed - conversation will be recorded) to have assistance and an ambulance sent to you.

Chemists' shops (Italian: Farmacie) are all around the town. They are open 24hrs. a day / 7 days a week on a rotational base: outside the shop there's always the list of operating ones with time-table, address and phone number. If you need a special-treatment drug you might be asked to book it in advance if it's not of so common use. Please, note that the commercial name or brand of your prescription might differ from your country of origin. Make sure before leaving your country of origin that you can have all you need even in the EU.


The unfortunate side-effect of the quaint back-alleys which make Venice such a delight to visit is that it is remarkably easy to get lost. Even maps provided by hotels are frequently inaccurate, and the maze-like structure of the city can become very confusing indeed. The tight cluster of little islands that comprise Venice is completely surrounded by the Lagoon, so it is not possble, no matter how lost you become, to leave Venice on foot. Sooner or later you will come upon a piazza that you can locate on your map.

One tip is, as you cross bridges, note the house numbers before and after. A small change probably means you are on the same island/district and have crossed a "new" canal. A major change means you are now on another island. Most maps clump islands together into their voting districts, there are many more islands than districts.

One piece of assistance is to look for directional signs. These will be marked "Per" and then with the name of a prominent location or bridge in the city, complete with an arrow pointing in the relevant direction. Hence, to get to the Rialto bridge, the signs to follow are marked "Per Rialto". Those to St Mark's Square read "Per S Marco", and those to the train station "Per Ferrovia" (there are some others as well). Having oriented yourself to the nearest landmark, direction-finding can thus become (slightly) easier.

Remember, though, that the signs to read are the official ones. Graffiti will occasionally give other directions, frequently incorrect ones.

That said, there is a school of thought which argues that getting lost in Venice is part of the experience of the city. The number of photogenic canals, hidden restaurants and shops where glass blowing is done almost guarantees that there is no such thing as a "dull neighbourhood". Additionally, the relatively cheap public transport means that it is relatively easy to arrive at the intended destination even after one has emerged from the web of alleys in a totally unexpected place.

Get out

Around the Venetian lagoon are other smaller islands, which have since been deserted but are worth a visit. There is also the Lido, which is a long narrow island with more modern buildings, hosting a youth hostel and a hotel.

  • Lake Garda— An easy day trip by train, it is Italy's largest lake and stunning in scenery.
  • The Lido— Typical for its beaches.
  • Murano— Nearby island famous for its glassware.
  • Po Delta— Peaceful and scenic marshy area southwest of Venice with bike trails.
  • Burano— Nearby island with typical textiles and painted houses.
  • San Lazzaro— Nearby island with Armenian monastery and impressive art collection, some world class pieces.
  • Mestre— Town in the mainland, but still a part of Venice.
  • Riviera del Brenta— Palladian Villas around Brenta River, just 20 minutes from Venice by car, advised easy biking tours with local bike hire shop.
  • Eraclea— Typical for its pinewood and Laguna del Mort, just 55 minutes from Venice by car or by boat.
  • Jesolo— Jesolo is one of the most important beaches in Italy, just 45 minutes from Venice by car or by boat (ferry from Treporti to Venice).
  • Cortina d'Ampezzo— Lovely alpine town, site of 1956 Winter Olympic Games. Great mountain scenery, might be very expensive. A couple of hours of car ride to the north of Venice, more than three hours by train and bus.

Kids View of Venice

Venice maybe a tourist trap, but all together there is so much for kids to do in Venice. Besides just walking around from place to place there is a lot of things that people of all ages will enjoy.

Kid's Restaurant Picks

Al-Vapperettos- It is a great pizzeria on the walkway leading up to the Campo Manin. It is an amazing restaurant with great vegetarian and non-vegetarian Menu. If you like spicy food, just ask the waiter for some extra spicy sauce. Also the range of pizza selection is just out of this world. Another amazing part of the menu is the spaghetti. The food is really light and not heavy like many other restaurants in Italy. Also the portion amounts are small, but they are cheap so you can order too. Another need-to-know is that water isn't free so you will have to buy a bottle of water. But all in all, It is a great restaurant.

Gelato- One of the greatest delights of Italian food, ice-cream also called gelato. The gelato all around Italy is great, but under a personal opinion, the gelato at Venice is better then that of all of Italy. The shop and the concept does not really matter. The rich savory taste will be with you for the rest of the day.

Kid's Views of the Doge Palace

The Doge Palace is one of the few places in Venice that is really worth going to and one of the places of the world that people of all ages will enjoy. The artwork and the scenery may be boring for a lot of kids but the views and the maps is something they will enjoy. There are two places also where kids will really enjoy it.

The Armory Room- It is an amazing place where the whole armory of the Doge's palace can be found. They have every kind of weapon in their arsenal. They have swords from big hulking broadswords for cutting and slashing from the mideival ages to the fine tipped presicion lunging swords of the Reinassance. Another thing is the long rage weapons. They have the earliest bows made by the kings and queens of the middle ages and they also have the porcelain guns of the Chinese. The advantage of this is the poison in porcelain enhanced the poison of the lead in the bullet. One of the highlights of the armory room is the armor sent by King George.

The armor that was sent by King George was made out of some of the strongest metal in the world. To make sure of that it was tested by some of today’s highest quality bullets. To many’s amazement the armor withstood the impact of the bullet and it bounced off. If you look to the left side of the armor, you can see the small bullet dent in the armor.

Another part of the Doge’s Palace that is really interesting is the prisons. The prisons are a maze of twisting passageways that are easy to get lost in. However if you keep on following the signs you should be okay. It isn’t okay to take pictures in the Doge palace inside nor is it okay to take video. The only place were it is okay to take video is in the places where it says it is okay to take pictures and video.

San Marco’s Square for Kids

San Marco’s square is one of the highlights of Venice. It is a beautiful square with lots of action and life going on at every second of the day. The San Marco’s square is right next to the Grand Canal and it has its own stop on the Vaporettos. The Vaporettos are like the bus system of Venice. It also has a selection of souvenirs to buy at a great price. There are many things to in San Marco’s square.

The Bell Tower of San Marcos Square

The Bell Tower of San Marcos Square may be something that a lot of people will enjoy including kids. The entrance ticket to go to the top is only 3 euros as it is very cheap. You can take an elevator. The line for the bell tower is very long, so it is better to go around 5 o’clock in the evening. You go up in a very spacious elevator to the top of the tower. The interesting part that a lot kids may enjoy are the binocular seeing stands. There is one on each side of the tower. Each works by putting a one euro coin. Also try not to go on the hour or on the half hour as the bell tower will ring and that can be very scary and loud and it will frighten most kids.

Saint Marks Basilica

Saint Marks Basilica is a place that isn’t exactly for most kids. However if your kid is a history nut, you may find that area very interesting. You cannot take cameras or backpacks into the Basilica so they will send you on a long search to find the cloak room. However if you see the entrance for a concert hall go in there. From there you go straight towards the aisle in the middle. From there if you take a left you will immediately see the area in which you can give your bag. Inside the Basilica is free but it is just a small walk so it will get boring. But there are separate tickets you can buy inside the Basilica to go up to the dome and other things like that. So all in all I would say it is sort of a boring place.

Kids’ View of Murano

The Murano glass making tour is one of the most interesting part of Venice. Usually instead of going overboard and paying for a tour, check with your hotel if they have a free tour package for the Murano glass making tour. It is really fun and kids will enjoy seeing how glass is being made into different shapes. But the best part of the tour that kids will enjoy is the water taxi ride back into town. The water taxi literally just skips on top of the water back. The taxi drops you at San Marco’s Square and from there you have to make your way back to wherever you want to go.


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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'VENICE (' Venezia), a city and seaport of Italy, occupying one of the most remarkable sites in the world. At the head of the Adriatic, between the mountains and the sea, lies that part of the Lombard plain known as the Veneto. The whole of this plain has been formed by the debris swept down from the Alps by the rivers Po, Ticino, Oglio, Adda, Mincio, Adige, Brenta, Piave, Livenza, Tagliamento and Isonzo. The substratum of the plain is a bed of boulders, covered during the lapse of ages by a deposit of rich alluvial soil. The rivers when they debouch from the 'mountains assume an eastern trend in their effort to reach the sea. The result is that the plain is being gradually extended in an easterly direction, and cities like Ravenna, Adria and Aquileia, which were once seaports, lie now many miles inland. The encroachment of land on sea has been calculated at the rate of about three miles in a thousand years. A strong current sets round the head of the Adriatic from east to west. This current catches the silt brought down by the rivers and projects it in long banks, or lidi, parallel with the shore. In process of time some of these banks, as in the case of Venice, raised themselves above the level of the water and became the true shore-line, while behind them lay large surfaces of water, called lagoons, formed partly by the fresh water brought down by the rivers, partly by the salt-water tide which found its way in by the channels of the river mouths. Along the coast-line, roughly speaking between the Apennines at Rimini and the Carnic Alps at Trieste, three main systems of lagoons were thus created, the lagoon of Grado or Marano to the east, the lagoon of Venice in the middle, and the lagoon of Comacchio to the south-west (for plan, see Harbour). All three are dotted with small islands, possibly the remains of some earlier lido. These islands are little else than low mud banks, barely rising above the water-level. On a group of these mud banks about the middle of the lagoon of Venice stands the city of Venice. It would be difficult to imagine a site less adapted for the foundation and growth of a great community. The soil is an oozy mud which can only be made capable of carrying buildings by the artificial means of pile-driving; there is no land fit for agriculture or the rearing of cattle; the sole food supply is fish from the lagoon, and there is no drinking-water save such as could be stored from the rainfall. Yet the group of islands called Rialto, in mid-Venetian lagoon, were first the asylum and then the magnificent and permanent home of a race that took a prominent part in the medieval and Renaissance history of Europe. The local drawbacks and difficulties once surmounted, Venice by her geographical position became the seaport nearest the heart of Europe.

Table of contents

Ethnography and Early History

As to the ethnography of the race little is known that is certain. It has frequently been said that the lagoon population was originally composed of refugees from the mainland seeking asylum from the incursions of Huns,, Goths and Lombards; but it is more probable that, long before the date of the earliest barbarian inroad, the lagoon islands already had a population of fisherfolk. In any case we may take it that the lagoon-dwellers were racially identical with the inhabitants of the neighbouring mainland, the Heneti or Veneti. That the Heneti themselves were immigrants is generally admitted. The earlier ethnographers, like Strabo, put forward three theories as to the original home of the race. Strabo himself talks of Armoric Heneti, and supposes them to have come from the neighbourhood of Brittany; another theory gives us Sarmatian Heneti, from the Baltic provinces; while the most widely accepted view was that they reached Italy from Paphlagonia. Modern scholarship has rejected these theories. Pauli and Kretschmer, proceeding on the basis of language, have reached conclusions which in the main are identical. Pauli, who has published all the known inscriptions of the Heneti, holds that the language is Illyrian, closely connected with Messapian. Kretschmer goes further and divides the Illyrian language into two sharply defined dialects, the northern dialect being represented by the Heneti. The result is that in the present condition of our knowledge we must conclude that the Heneti were a branch of the Illyrian people. The Eneti of Paphlagonia, the Veneti of Brittany and the Venedi of the Baltic, are probably quite distinct, and the similarity of name is merely a coincidence.

The dwellings of the primitive settlers in the lagoons were, in all probability, rude huts made of long reeds, such as may be seen to this day in the lagoon of Grado. A ditch was cut deep into the mud so as to retain the water at low tide, and there the boats of the fishermen lay. The ground about the hut was made solid and protected from corrosion by a palisade of wattled osiers, thus creating the earliest form of the fondamenta, or quay, which runs along the side of so many Venetian canals and is so prominent a feature in the construction of the city. Gradually, as time went on, and probably with the influx of refugees from the mainland, bricks made of lagoon mud came to take the place of wattle and reeds in the construction of the houses. Groups of dwellings, such as are still to be seen on some of the small canals at Burano, clustered together along the banks of the deeper channels which traverse the lagoon islands and give access to the tide. It is these channels which determined the lines of construction; the dwellings followed their windings, and that accounts for the extraordinarily complex network of calles and canals which characterizes modern Venice. The alleys or calli number 2327, with a total length of 894 m.; the canals number 177 and measure 28 m. The whole site of Venice is dominated by the existence of one great main canal, the Grand Canal, which, winding through the town in the shape of the letter S, divides it into two equal parts. This great canal was probably at one time the bed of a river flowing into the lagoons near Mestre. The smaller canals all serve as arteries to the Grand Canal. One other broad canal, once the bed of the Brenta, divides the island of the Giudecca from the rest of the city and takes its name from that island. The ordinary Venetian house was built round a courtyard, and was one storey high; on the roof was an open loggia for drying clothes; in front, between the house and the water, ran the fondamenta. The earliest churches were built with cemeteries for the dead; and thus we find the nucleus of the city of Venice, little isolated groups of dwellings each on its separate islet, scattered, as Cassiodorus 1 says, like sea-birds' nests over the face of the waters. Some of the islets were still uninhabited, covered with a dense low growth which served as cover for game and even for wolves.

With the destruction of the mainland cities by repeated barbarian invasions, and thanks to the gradual development of Venice as a centre of coasting trade in the northern Adriatic, the aspect of the city changed. Brick and more rarely stone took the place of wood and wattle. The assaults, of the Dalmatian pirates, attracted by the growing wealth of the city, necessitated the building of strong castellated houses, of which no example has come down to our day, but we may gather what they were like from Petrarch's description of his house on the Riva degli Schiavoni, with its two flanking towers, probably retaining the primitive form, and also from the representations of protecting towers which occur in Carpaccio's pictures. The canals too were guarded by chains stretched across their mouths and by towers in some cases, as, for example, in the case of the Torresella Canal, which takes its name from these defence works. These houses clustered round the churches which now began to be built in considerable numbers, and formed the various contrade of the city. The Cronica altinate in the vision of Fra Mauro gives us a picturesque account of the founding of the various parishes, Olivolo or Castello, St Raffaello, St Salvadore, Sta Maria Formosa, S. Giovanni in Bragora, the Apostoli and Sta Giustina. Tradition has it that the earliest church in Venice was S. Giacomo di Rialto, 1 Secretary to Theodoric the Great, in a letter dated A. D. 523.

said to have been founded in 432. The canals between these clusters of houses were deepened and cleared out, and in some cases trees were planted along the banks, or fondamenta; we hear of the cypresses on San Giorgio Maggiore, of an ancient mulberry tree at San Salvadore, of a great elder tree near the Procuratie Vecchie where the magistrates were wont to tie their horses. There were vineyards and orchards (broli) on land reclaimed from the sea, and lying between the various clusters of houses, which had not yet been consolidated into one continuous city. The canals were crossed by wooden bridges without steps, and in the case of the wide Grand Canal the bridge at Rialto was carried on boats. Gradually, however, stone bridges came into use. The earliest of these was the bridge of San Zaccaria, mentioned in a document of 1170. The Rialto bridge was designed in 1178 by Nicolo Barattieri, and was carried on pontoons. In 1255 and 1264 it was rebuilt, still in wood. It. was carried on beams and could be raised in the middle, as we see it in Carpaccio's picture of "The Miracle of the Cross." The present bridge, the work of Antonio or Giovanni Contino, whose nickname was da Ponte, dates from 1588-91, and cost 250,000 ducats. The same architect was responsible for the lofty "Bridge of Sighs" (1595-1605), connecting the ducal palace with the state prisons (1591-97) on the opposite side of the narrow canal on the east of the Rio del Palazzo.

The early bridges were inclined planes and could easily be crossed by horses. It was not till the city became more populous and when stone-stepped bridges were introduced that the use of horses died out. As late as 1365 the Doge Lorenzo Celsi owned a famous stud of chargers, and in 14 9 0 the Doge Michele Steno's stables, where the present Zecca stands, were famous throughout Italy. In 1392 a law put an end to riding in the Merceria, on account of the crowd, and all horses and mules were obliged to carry bells to warn foot-passengers. The lanes and alleys of the early city were unpaved and filthy with slops from the houses. But in the 13th century the Venetians began to pave the more frequented streets with brick. Ferries or traghetti for crossing the canals were also established as early as the 13th century; we find record of ferries at San Gregorio, San Felice, San Toma, San Samuele, and so on, and also of longer ferries to the outlying islands like Murano and Chioggia, or to the mainland at Mestre and Fusina. The boatmen early erected themselves into gilds.


The characteristic conveyances on the canals of Venice - which take the place of cabs in other cities - are the gondolas, flat-bottomed boats, some 3 o ft. long by 4 or 5 ft. wide, curving out of the water at the ends, with ornamental bow and stern pieces and an iron beak (ferro), resembling a halberd, which is the highest part of the boat. The gondolier stands on a poppa at the stern with his face towards the bow, and propels the gondola with a single oar. There is a low cabin (felze) for passengers; the ordinary gondolas can take four or six persons, and larger ones (barca or battello) take eight. Gondolas are mentioned as far back as 1094, and, prior to a sumptuary edict passed by the great council in the 16th century, making black their compulsory colour, they were very different in appearance from now. Instead of the present boat, with its heavy black cabin and absence of colouring, the older forms had an awning of rich stuffs or gold embroideries, supported on a light arched framework open at both ends; this is the gondola still seen in Carpaccio's and Gentile Bellini's pictures (c. 150o). Since 1880 services of omnibus steamers (now municipal) have also been introduced.

Byzantine Architecture

We can trace the continuous growth of Venice through the successive styles of Byzantine, Gothic, early Renaissance and late Renaissance architecture. The whole subject is magnificently treated in Ruskin's Stones of Venice. The two most striking buildings in Venice, St Mark's and the Doge's Palace, at once give us an example of the two earlier styles, the Byzantine and the Gothic, at least in their general design, though both are so capricious in development and in decoration that they may more justly be con sidered as unique specimens rather than as typical examples of their respective styles. In truth, owing to its isolated position on the very verge of Italy, and to its close connexion with the East, Venetian architecture was an independent development. Though displaying a preponderance of Oriental characteristics, it retained a quality of its own quite unlike the styles evolved by other Western countries.

The Byzantine style prevailed in Venice during the 11th and 12th centuries. The arches of this period are semicircular and usually highly stilted. Sculptured ornamentation, flowing scrollwork of semi-conventional foliage mingled with grotesque animals, birds or dragons, is freely applied to arches and string courses. The walls are built of solid brickwork and then covered with thin slabs of rich and costly marbles. Sculptured panels, with conventional motives, peacocks, eagles devouring hares, peacocks drinking from a cup on a tall pillar, are let into both exterior and interior walls, as are roundels of precious marbles, sawn from columns of porphyry, serpentine, verd antique, &c. The adoption of veneer for decoration prohibited any deep cutting, and almost all the sculpture is shallow. Only in the capitals, which are of extraordinary richness and variety, do we get any deep or bold relief. Dentil mouldings, of which examples may still be seen in the remains of the palace of Blachernae at Constantinople, are characteristic of Venetian ornamentation at this period, and remain a permanent feature in Venetian architecture down to the 11th century. The dome is the leading idea or motif in Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture; the domes are placed over square, not circular apartments, and their bases are brought to a circle by means of pendentives. In exterior elevation the chief effect is produced by the grouping of the domes. In the interior the effect is gained by broad masses of chromatic decoration in marble-veneer and mosaics on a gold ground to cover the walls and vaults, and by elaborate pavements of opus sectile and opus Alexandrinum. Owing to the marshy site the foundations of buildings in Venice offered considerable difficulties. A trench was dug in the soft upper mud until the stratum of stiff blue clay was reached. Piles of elm, oak, white poplar or larch were driven into this clay to the depth of 16 to 20 ft. or until absolute resistance was encountered. The heads of the piles were from 10 to 11 in. in diameter and they were driven in almost in contact. On this surface of pile heads was laid a platform of two layers of squared oak beams; and on this again the foundations proper were built. In some cases, however, as for example in the ducal palace itself, if the clay appeared sufficiently firm, the piles were dispensed with and the foundations went up directly from the oak platform which rested immediately on the clay. During the middle ages the walls of Venetian buildings were constructed invariably of brick. They were usually solid, but in some cases they were built a sacco- that is to say, two thin outer walls were built and the space between them was filled with grouted rubble. The delicate creamy Istrian stone, which is now so prominent a feature in Venetian architecture, did not come into common use till after the 11th century, when the Istrian coast became permanently Venetian. Before 1405 the mortar used in Venice was made of lime from Istria, which possessed no hydraulic qualities and was consequently very perishable, a fact which to a large extent accounts for the fall of the Campanile of San Marco. But when Venice took possession of the mainland her builders were able to employ a strong hydraulic dark lime from Albettone, which formed a durable cement, capable of resisting salt water and the corrosive sea air.

The church of St Mark's, originally the private chapel of the doge, is unique among the buildings of the world in respect of its unparalleled richness of material and decoration.

It grew with the growing state whose religious centre it was, and was adorned with the spoils of countless other buildings, both in the East and on the Italian mainland. A law of the republic required every merchant trading to the East to bring back some material for the adornment of the fane. Indeed, the building has been compared to the treasure den of a gang of "sea sharkers," and from a museum of sculpture of the most varied kind, nearly every century from the 4th down to the latest Renaissance being represented. The present church is the third on this site. Soon after the concentration at Rialto (see History below), a small wooden church was erected about the year 828 for the reception of the relics of St Mark, which had been brought from Alexandria when the Moslems pulled down the church where he was buried. St Mark then became the patron saint of Venice in place of St Theodore. This church was burned in 976 along with the ducal palace in the insurrection against the Doge Candiano IV. Pietro Orseolo and his successors rebuilt the church on a larger scale in the form of a basilica with three eastern apses and no transept, and Byzantine workmen were employed. As the state grew in wealth and importance the church grew with it. About the year 1063 the Doge Contarini resolved to remodel St Mark's. There can be no doubt that Byzantine artists had a large share in the work, but it is equally certain that Lombard workmen were employed along with the Orientals, and thus St Mark's became, as it were, a workshop in which twd styles, Byzantine and Lombard, met and were fused together, giving birth to a new style, peculiar to the district, which may fairly be called Veneto-Byzantine.

In plan (see the article Architecture) St Mark's is a Greek cross of equal arms, covered by a dome in the centre, 42 ft. in diameter, and by a dome over each of the arms. The plan is derived from the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, now covered by the mosque of Mahommed II., and bears a strong resemblance to the plan of St Front at Perigueux in France (I 120). The addition of a narthex before the main front and a vestibule on the northern side brings the whole western arm of the cross to a square on plan. In elevation the façade seems to have connexion with the five-bayed façade of the Kahriyeh Jame, or mosaic mosque, at Constantinople. The exterior facade is enriched with marble columns brought from Alexandria and other cities of the East, and bearing in many cases incised graffiti. Mosaics are employed to decorate the spandrils of the arches. Only one of the original mosaics now exists, the one over the doorway at the north-western, or St Alipio, angle. Its subject, which is of high historical value as a record of costume, represents the translation of the body of St Mark, and gives us a view of the west façade of the church as it was at the beginning of the 13th century before the addition of the ogee gables, with alternating crockets and statues, and the intermediate pinnacled canopies placed between the five great arches of the upper storey. The top of the narthex forms a wide gallery, communicating with the interior at the triforium level. In the centre of this gallery stand the four colossal bronze horses which belonged to some Graeco-Roman triumphal quadriga, and were brought to Venice by the Doge Enrico Dandolo after the fall of Constantinople in 1204; they were carried off by Napoleon to Paris in 1797, and restored by Francis of Austria in 1815.

Mosaic is the essential decoration of the church, and the architectural details are subordinated to the colour scheme. These mosaics belong to very various dates. The Doge Domenico Selvo began the decoration of the church in 1071, though it is uncertain whether any of his work can be now identified. The mosaics of the domes would seem to belong to the 12th century, probably before 1150. The mosaics of the atrium date from 1200 to 1300; the subjects are taken from Old Testament story. The baptistery mosaics represent the life of St John. The mosaics in the chapel of St Isidore (finished by Andrea Dandolo), giving us the life of the saint, were executed in 1355. In the sacristy is a series of loth-century mosaics, and in other parts of the church are inferior and later mosaics from cartoons by later Venetian masters. Below the mosaics the walls and arches are covered with rare marbles, porphyries and alabaster from ancient columns sawn into slices and so arranged in broad bands as to produce a rich gamut of colour.

The eastern crypt, or confessio, extends under the whole of the choir and has three apses, like the upper church. The body of St Mark formerly rested here, but is now within the high altar. Below the nave is another crypt. The floors of both crypts have sunk considerably and are often under water; this settlement accounts for the inequalities of the pavement. The original part of the magnificent mosaic pavement probably dates from the middle of the 12th century, if we may judge from the pavement at Murano, exactly similar in style, material and workmanship, which bears the date 1140. The pavement consists partly of opus Alexandrinum of red and green porphyry mixed with marbles, partly of tesselated work of glass and marble tesserae.

The choir stands about 4 ft. above the nave and is separated from it by a marble rood-screen, on the architrave of which stand fourteen figures, the signed work of Jacobello and Pietro Paolo delle Masegne, 1394.

The Pala d'oro, or retable of the high altar, is one of the chief glories of St Mark's. It is one of the most magnificent specimens of goldsmiths' and jewellers' work in existence. It 'was ordered in 976 at Constantinople by the Doge Pietro I. Orseolo, and was enlarged and enriched with gems and modified in form, first by a Greek artificer in 1105, and then by Venetians between 1209 and 1345. It is composed of figures of Christ, angels, prophets and saints, in Byzantine enamel run into gold plates. It is about II ft. 6 in. wide, and about 4 ft. 8 in. high. It contains 1300 great pearls, 400 garnets, 90 amethysts, 300 sapphires, 300 emeralds, 15 rubies, 75 balas rubies, 4 topazes, 2 cameos; the gems, except where they have been replaced, are cut en cabochon. The treasury of St Mark's contains a magnificent collection of church plate and jewels.

Fine examples of Venetian Byzantine palaces - at least of the façades - are still to be seen on the Grand Canal and in some of the small canals. The interiors have been modified past recognition of their original disposition. The Byzantine palace seems to have had twin angle-towers - geminas angulares turres - such as those of the Ca' Molin on the Riva degli Schiavoni, where Petrarch lived. The restored (1880) Fondaco 1 dei Turchi (13th century), now the Museo Civico, also has two angle-towers. The facades presented continuous colonnades on each floor with semicircular high stilted arches, leaving a very small amount of wall space. The buildings were usually battlemented in fantastic form. A good specimen may be seen in Lazzaro Sebastiani's picture of the piazzetta, in the Museo Civico. There on the right we see the handsome building of the old bakery, occupying the site of the present library; it has two arcades of Saracenic arches and a fine row of battlements. Other specimens still in existence are the municipal buildings, Palazzo Loredan and Palazzo Farsetti - if, indeed, these are not to be considered rather as Romanesque - and the splendid Ca' da Mosto, all on the Grand Canal. The richest ornamentation was applied to the arches and string courses, while plaques of sculpture, roundels and coats of arms adorned the facades. The remains of a Byzantine façade now almost entirely built into a wall in the Rio di Ca' Foscari offer us excellent illustration of this decorative work.

FIG. 1. - Square of St Mark and surrounding buildings. The original cameo was bounded on the west by the canal B, with the 6th-century church of S. Geminiano, C, on its west bank. The first enlargement of the square was effected by Doge Sebastiano Ziani in 1176, when he filled up the canal and rebuilt the church on a new site at D, thus nearly doubling the size of the square. Lastly, the square was extended southwards in the 16th century, when the new palace of the procurators, K, was built by Scamozzi. Gentile Bellini's picture shows a line of houses along FF, reaching up to the great campanile, A. Napoleon I. in 1805-10 pulled down the church of S. Geminiano and built a new block at the west end of the square, L. The dates of the various parts of the existing ducal palace are indicated on the plan; the rebuilding was carried on in the following order, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V. At Z is the treasury of St Mark, which was originally one of the towers belonging to the old ducal palace; E, site of old houses; G, clocktower; H, old palace of procurators; J, old library; M, two columns; N, Ponte della Paglia; 0, Bridge of Sighs; W, Giants' Staircase; X, sacristy of St Mark; Y, Piazzetta.

Gothic Architecture

Venetian Gothic, both ecclesiastical and domestic, shares most of the characteristics of north Italian Gothic generally, though in domestic architecture it displays one peculiarity which we shall presently note. The material, brick and terra-cotta, is the determining cause of the characteristics of north Italian Gothic 1 This palace was originally the property of the Pesaro family, and afterwards of the duke of Este, and finally of the republic, which used it as a dwelling-place for royal guests before letting it to Turkish merchants. The word Fondaco (derived through Arabic from the Greek iravSoxE-ov), as applied to some of the Venetian palaces, denotes the mercantile headquarters of a foreign trading nation. Those still existing are the Turkish and the German (F. de' Tedeschi), the latter now converted into the post office.

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Flatness and lack of deep shadows, owing to the impossibility of obtaining heavy cornices in that material, mark the style. The prevalence of sunlight led to a restriction of the windows and exaggeration of wall space. The development of tracery was hindered both by the material and by the relative insignificance of the windows. On the other hand, the plastic quality of terracotta suggested an abundance of delicate ornamentation on a small scale, which produced its effect by its own individual beauty without broad reference to the general scheme. Coloured marbles and frescoes served a like purpose. The exteriors of the north Italian Gothic churches are characterized by the flatness of the roof; the treatment of the west facade as a mere screen wall, masking the true lines of the aisle roofs; the great circular window in the west front for lighting the nave; the absence of pinnacles owing to the unimportance of the buttresses; the west-end porches with columns resting on lions or other animals. The peculiarity of Venetian domestic Gothic to which we have referred is this: we frequently find tracery used to fill rectangular, not arched, openings. The result is that the tracery itself has to support the structure above it - is, in fact, constructional - whereas in most other countries the tracery is merely, as it were, a pierced screen filling in a constructional arch. Hence the noticeable heaviness of Venetian tracery.

The ducal palace, like St Mark's, is a symbol and an epitome of the race which evolved it. Soon after the concentration The at Rialto the doge Angelo Particiaco began an official residence for the head of the state. It was probably palace. a small, strongly fortified castle; one of its massive angle-towers is now incorporated in St Mark's and serves as the treasury. During the earlier years of the republic the ducal palace was frequently destroyed and rebuilt. It was burnt in 976 and again in 1106. At the close of the 12th century (1173-1179) Sebastian Ziani restored and enlarged the palace. Of his work some traces still remain in the richly sculptured bands built in at intervals along the 14th-century façade on the Rio, and part of the handsome larch-wood beams which formed the loggia of the piazzetta façade, still visible on the inner wall of the present loggia. The present magnificent building was a slow growth extending over three centuries and expanding gradually as the republic grew in riches.

The palace as we now see it was begun about 1300 by Doge Pietro Gradenigo, who soon after the closing of the great council gave its permanent form to the Venetian constitution. It is therefore, in a sense, contemporaneous with the early manhood of the state. Gradenigo built the façade along the Rio. About 1309 the arcaded facade along the lagoon front was taken in hand, and set the design for the whole of the external frontage of the palace. Towards the end of the 14th century, this façade, with its lower colonnade, upper loggia with handsome Gothic tracery, and the vast impending upper storey, which give to the whole building its striking appearance and audacious design, had been carried as far as the tenth column on the piazzetta side. At this point, perhaps out of regard for the remains of Ziani's palace, the work seems to have been arrested for many years, but in 1424 the building was resumed and carried as far as the north-west, or judgment, angle, near St Mark's, thus completing the sea and piazzetta facades as we now see them. The great gateway, the Porta della Carta, was added in 1439-42 from designs by Bartholomeo Buono (or Bon) and his son. The block of buildings in the interior, connecting the Porta della Carta to the Rio wing, was added about 1462 by the doge Cristoforo Moro. In 1479 a fire consumed the earlier buildings along the Rio, and these were replaced (1480-1550) by the present Renaissance structure.

The two main facades, those towards the sea and the piazzetta, consist of a repetition of the same design, that which was begun in the early years of the 14th century. The name of the architect who 'began the work and thus fixed the design of the whole is not certainly known, but it must have been a man of an earlier generation than that of Filippo Calendario, who is often stated to have been the chief architect of the older portion. Calendario was an accomplice in the conspiracy of Marino Faliero, and was executed together with the doge in 1355. It appears probable that a Venetian architect and sculptor named Pietro Baseggio was the chief masterbuilder in the first half of the 14th century. The design of these facades is very striking and unlike that of any other building in the world. It consists of two storeys with open colonnades, forming a long loggia on the ground and first floors, with seventeen arches on the sea front and eighteen on the other facade. Above this is a lofty third storey, pierced with a few large windows, with pointed arches once filled with tracery, which is now lost. The whole surface of the ponderous upper storey is covered with a diaper pattern in slabs of creamy white Istrian stone and red Verona marble, giving a delicate rosy-orange hue to the building. Very beautiful sculpture, executed with an ivory-like minuteness of finish, is used to decorate the whole building with wonderful profusion.

At each of the three free angles is a large group immediately over the lower column. At the south-east angle is the "Drunkenness of Noah," at the south-west the "Fall of Man," and at the north-west the "Judgment of Solomon." Over each, at a much higher level, is a colossal figure of an archangel - Raphael, Michael and Gabriel.

The great internal court is surrounded with arcading. From the interior of the court access is given to the upper loggia by a very beautiful staircase of early Renaissance style, built in the middle of the 15th century by Antonio Rizzo. Two colossal statues of Neptune and Mars at the top of these stairs were executed by Jacopo Sansovino in 1554 - hence the name "giants' staircase." Owing to a fire which gutted a great part of the palace in 1574, the internal appearance of the rooms was completely changed, and the fine series of early Paduan and Venetian paintings which decorated the walls of the chief rooms was lost. At present the magnificent council chambers for the different legislative bodies of the Venetian republic and the state apartments of the doges are richly decorated with gilt carving and panelling in the style of the later Renaissance. On the walls of the chief council chambers are a magnificent series of oil-paintings by Tintoretto and other less able Venetians - among them Tintoretto's masterpiece, "Bacchus and Ariadne," and his enormous picture of Paradise, the largest oil-painting in the world.

Among the many Gothic churches of Venice the largest are the Franciscan church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Fran (1250-1280), and the Dominican church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo (1260-1400). The Frari is remarkable for its Got ' 'churchiches. fine choir-stalls and for the series of six eastern chapels which from outside give a very good example of Gothic brickwork, comparable with the even finer apse of the now desecrated church of San Gregorio. The church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo was the usual burying-place of the doges, and contains many noble mausoleums of various dates. Besides these two churches we may mention Santo Stefano, an interesting building of central Gothic, "the best ecclesiastical example of it in Venice." The apse is built over a canal. The west entrance is later than the rest of the edifice and is of the richest Renaissance Gothic, a little earlier than the Porta della Carta.

But it is in the domestic architecture of Venice that we find the most striking and characteristic examples of Gothic. The introduction of that style coincided with the consolidation of the Venetian constitution and the Gothic development of Venetian commerce both in the Levant and with England and Flanders. The wealth which thus accrued found architectural expression in those noble palaces, so characteristic of Venice, which line the Grand and smaller canals. They are so numerous that we cannot do more than call attention to one or two.

The most striking example is undoubtedly the Ca' d'Oro, so called from the profusion of gold employed on its façade. It was built for Marino Contarini in 1421, rather a late period in the development of the style.

Marino kept a minute entry of his expenses, a document of the highest value, not merely for the history of the building, but also for the light it throws on the private life of the great patricians who gave to Venice such noble examples of art. Contarini was to some extent his own architect. He had the assistance of Marco d'Amadeo, a master-builder, and of Matteo Reverti, a Milanese sculptor, who were joined later on by Giovanni Buono and his son Bartolomeo. Other artists, of whom we know nothing else, such as Antonio Busetto, Antonio Foscolo, Gasparino Rosso, Giacomo da Como, Marco da Legno and others, were called in to help in evolving this masterpiece of decorated architecture, affording us an example of the way in which the ducal palace and other monuments of Venice grew out of the collaboration of numerous nameless artists. By the year 1431 the façade was nearly completed, and Contarini made a bargain with Martino and Giovanni Benzon for the marbles to cover what was yet unfinished. The facade is a triumph of graceful elegance; so light is the tracery, so rich the decoration, so successful the breach of symmetry which gives us a wing upon the left-hand side but none upon the right. But Contarini was not content to leave the marbles as they were. He desired to have the facade of his house in colour. The contract for this work, signed with Master Zuan de Franza, conjures up a vision of the Ca' d'Oro ablaze with colour and gleaming with the gold ornamentation from which it took its name.

Other notable examples of this style are the Palazzo Ariani at San Raffaelle, with its handsome window in a design of intersecting circles; the beautiful window with the symbols of the four Evangelists in the spandrils, in the facade of a house at San Stae; the row of three Giustinian palaces at S. Barnaba; the Palazzo Priuli at San Severo, with a remarkably graceful anglewindow, where the columnar mullion carries down the angle of the wall; the flamboyant balconies of the Palazzo Contarini Fasan; the Palazzo Bernardo on a side canal near S. Polo, a late central Gothic building (1380-1400) which Ruskin describes as "of the finest kind and superb in its effect of colour when seen from the side. Taken as a whole, after the ducal palace this is the noblest effect of all in Venice." Early Renaissance. - Towards the close of the 15th century Venetian architecture began to feel the influence of the classical revival; but, lying far from Rome and retaining still her connexion with the East, Venice did not fall under the sway of the classical ideals either so quickly or so completely as most Italian cities. Indeed, in this as in the earlier styles, Venice struck out a line for herself and developed a style of her own, known as Lombardesque, after the family of the Lombardi (Solari) who came from Carona on the Lake of Lugano and may be said to have created it.

The essential point about the style is that it is intermediary between Venetian Gothic and full Renaissance. We find it retaining some traces of Byzantine influence in the decorated surfaces of applied marbles, and in the roundels of porphyry and verd antique, while it also retained certain characteristics of Gothic, as, for instance, in the pointed arches of the Renaissance facade in the courtyard of the ducal palace designed by Antonio Rizzo (1499). Special notes of the style are the central grouping of the windows, leaving comparatively solid spaces on each side, which gives the effect of FIG. 2. - Ca' d'Oro, as originally built.

a main building with wings; the large amount of window space; the comparative flatness of the façades; the employment of a cornice to each storey; the effect of light and shade given by the balconies; and in churches by the circular pediments on the facades.

The most perfect example of this style in ecclesiastical architecture is the little church of the Miracoli built by Pietro Lombardo in 1480. The church is without aisles, and has a semicircular roof, and the choir is raised twelve steps above the floor of the nave. The walls, both internally and externally, are encrusted with marbles. The facade has the characteristic circular pediment with a large west window surrounded by three smaller windows separated by two ornamental roundels in coloured marble and of geometric design. Below the pediment comes an arcade with flat pilasters, which runs all round the exterior of the church. Two of the bays contain round-headed windows; the other three are filled in with white marble adorned by crosses and roundels in coloured marble. The lower order contains the flat pilastered portal with two panelled spaces on each side.

Similar results are obtained in the magnificent facade of the Scuola di San Marco, at SS. Giovanni e Paolo, which has six semicircular pediments of varying size crowning the six bays, in the upper order of which are four noble Romanesque windows. The lower order contains the handsome portal with a semicircular pediment, while four of the remaining bays are filled with quaint scenes in surprisingly skilful perspective. The facade of San Zaccaria (1457-1515), the stately design of Anton Marco Gambello and Mauro Coducci, offers some slight modifications in the use of the semicircular pediment, the line of the aisle roof being indicated by quarter-circle pediments abutting on the facade of the nave. San Salvadore, the work of Tullio Lombardo (1530), is severer and less highly ornamented than the preceding examples, but its plan is singularly impressive, giving the effect of great space in a comparatively small area. In this connexion we must mention the Scuola of S. Giovanni Evangelista at the Frari, with its fore-court and screen adorned by pilasters delicately decorated with foliage in low relief, and its noble staircase whose double flights unite on a landing under a shallow cupola. This also was the work of Pietro Lombardo and his son Tullio.

Early Renaissance palaces occur frequently in Venice and form a pleasing contrast with those in the Gothic style. The Palazzo Dario with its dedication, Urbis genio, the superb Manzoni-Montecuculi-Polignac, with its friezes of spread-eagles in low relief, and the Vendramini-Calergi or Non nobis palace, whose facade is characterized by its roundheaded windows of grouped twin lights between columns, are among the more important; though beautiful specimens, such as the Palazzo Trevisan on the Rio della Paglia, and the Palazzo Corner Reali at the Fava, are to be found all over the city.

Later Renaissance

When we come to the fully developed Renaissance, architecture in Venice ceases to possess that peculiarly individual imprint which marks the earlier Library styles. It is still characterized by great splendour; of San indeed, the library of San Marco, built by Jacopo Sansovino in 1536, is justly considered the most sumptuous example of Renaissance architecture in the world. It is rich, ornate, yet hardly florid, distinguished by splendid effects of light and shade, obtained by a far bolder use of projections than had hitherto been found in the somewhat fiat design of Venetian façades. The columned, round-headed windows are set in deeply between the pillars which carry the massive entablature, and this again is surmounted by a balustrade with obelisks at each angle and figures marking the line of each bay. The Istrian stone of which the edifice is built has taken a fine patina, which makes the whole look like some richly embossed casket in oxidized silver.

The full meaning of the change which had come over Venetian architecture, of the gulf which lies between the early Lombardesque style, so purely characteristic of Venice, and the fully developed classical revival, which now assumed undisputed sway, may best be grasped by comparing the old and the new Procuratie. Not more than eighty years separate these two buildings; the old Procuratie were built by Bartolomeo Buono about 150o, the new by Scamozzi in 1580, yet it is clear that each belongs to an entirely different world of artistic ideas. The Procuratie Vecchie is perhaps the longest arcaded façade in the world and certainly shows the least amount of wall space; the whole design is simple, the .moulding and ornamentation severe. The Procuratie Nuove, which after all is merely Scamozzi's continuation of Sansovino's library, displays all the richness of that ornate building.

Among the churches of this period we may mention San Geminiano, designed by Sansovino, and destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century to make room for the ball-room built by Napoleon for Eugene Beauharnais. The churches of San Giorgio Maggiore and of the Redentore, a votive church for liberation from the plague, are both by Palladio. In 1632 Baldassare Longhena built the fine church of Santa Maria della Salute, also a votive church, erected by the state to commemorate the cessation of the plague of 1630. This noble pile, with a large and handsome dome, a secondary cupola over the altar, and a striking portal and flight of steps, occupies one of the most conspicuous sites in Venice on the point of land that separates the mouth of the Guidecca from the Grand Canal. In plan it is an octagon with chapels projecting one on each side. The volute buttresses, each crowned with a statue, add quaintly but happily to the general effect. After Longhena's date church architecture in Venice declined upon the dubious taste of baroque; the facades of San Moise and of Santa Maria del Giglio are good specimens of this style.

The palaces of the later Renaissance are numerous and frequently grandiose though frigid in design. The more remarkable are Sansovino's Palazzo Corner, Longhena's massive and imposing Palazzo Pesaro, the Palazzo Rezzonico, from designs by Longhena with the third storey added by Massari, Sammicheli's Palazzo Corner at San Polo, and Massari's well-proportioned and dignified Palazzo Grassi at San Samuele, built in 1740.

Modern Buildings

In recent times the general prosperity of the city, which is on the ascendant, has brought about a revival of domestic and civic architecture. The architects Rupolo and Sardi have erected a considerable number of buildings, in which they have attempted, and with considerable success, to return either to Venetian Gothic or to the early Renaissance Lombardesque style. The most striking of these modern buildings are the new wing of the Hotel d'Italie, San Moise, and the very successful fish market at Rialto, designed by Laurenti and carried out by Rupolo, in which a happy return to early Venetian Gothic has been effected in conjunction with a skilful adaptation of one of the most famous of the old houses of Venice, the Stalon, or palace of the Quirini family.

Gild Halls

Among the most remarkable buildings in Venice are the scuole, or gild halls, of the various confraternities. They were pious foundations created for mutual benefit and for purposes of charity. The scuole were divided into the six scuole grandi, so called from their numbers, wealth and privileges, and the scuole minori or fraglie, which in most cases were associated with an art or craft. The scuole minori were usually attached to some church in the quarter where the particular trade flourished. They had their special altar dedicated to the patron of the gild, a private buryingplace, and a room in which they held their chapter. The six scuole grandi, San Teodoro, S. Maria della Carita, S. Giovanni Evangelista, San Marco, della Misericordia and San Rocco, on the other hand, built themselves magnificent gild halls. We have already mentioned two of these, the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista and the Scuola di San Marco, both of them masterpieces of the Lombardesque style. The Scuola di San Marco is now a part of the town hospital, and besides its facade, already described, it is remarkable for the handsome carved ceiling in the main hall (1463). Other beautiful ceilings are to be found in the great hall and the hall of the Albergo in the Scuola della Carita, now the Accademia. They are the work of Marco Cozzi of Vicenza and were executed between 1461 and 5464. The design of the former is a trellis crossing the ceiling diagonally; in each of the lacunae is carved a cherubim with eight wings; the figures and the trellis are gilded; the ground is a rich ultramarine. But the most magnificent of these gild halls is the Scuola di San Rocco, designed by Bartolomeo Buono in 1517 and carried out by Scarpagnino and Sante Lombardo. The façade on the Campo is large and pure in conception. The great staircase and the lower and upper halls contain the unrivalled series of paintings by Tintoretto, which called forth such unbounded enthusiasm on the part of Ruskin.


Among the more striking features of Venice we must reckon the campanili or bell-towers (see Campanile). These were at one time more numerous than at the present day; earthquakes and subsidence of foundations have brought many of them down, the latest to fall being the great tower of San Marco itself, which collapsed on July 14th, 1902. Its reconstruction was at once undertaken, and completed in 1910. In a few other cases, for example at San Giorgio Maggiore, the fallen campanili were restored; but for the most part they were not replaced. The Venetian campanile usually stands detached from the church. It is almost invariably square; the only examples of round campanili in this part of Italy are to be found at Ravenna and at Caorle to the east of Venice; while inside Venice itself the solitary exception to the square plan was the campanile of San Paternian, built in 999 and now demolished, which was a hexagon. The campanile is usually a plain brick shaft with shallow pilasters running up the faces. It has small angle-windows to light the interior inclined plane or staircase, and is not broken into storeys with grouped windows as in the case of the Lombard bell-towers. Above the shaft comes the arcaded bell-chamber, frequently built of Istrian stone; and above that again the attic, either round or square or octagonal, carrying either a cone or a pyramid or a cupola, sometimes surmounted by a cross or a gilded angel which serves as a weathercock. Cressets used to be kept burning at night on some of the campanili to serve as beacons for those at sea. Among the existing campanili the oldest are San Geremia, dating from the 11th century, San Samuele from the 12th, San Barnaba and San Zaccaria from the 13th. The campanile of S. Giovanni Elemosinario at Rialto (1398-1400) is called by Ruskin "the most interesting piece of central Gothic remaining comparatively intact in Venice." Public Monuments. - Venetian sculpture is for the most part ancillary to architecture; for example, Antonio Rizzo's "Adam" and "Eve" (1464), which face the giants'-staircase in the ducal palace, are parts of the decorative scheme; Sansovino's splendid monument to Tomaso Rangone is an essential feature of the facade of San Giuliano. The most successful Venetian sculpture is to be found in the many noble sepulchral private monuments. The jealousy of the Venetian republic forbade the erection of monuments to her great men. The sole exception is the superb equestrian statue in honour of the General Bartolomeo Colleoni, which stands on the Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo. By his will Colleoni left his vast fortune to Venice on condition that a monument should be raised to him at St Mark's. He meant the great piazza, but by a quibble the republic evaded the concession of so unique an honour and claimed to have fulfilled the conditions of the bequest by erecting the monument at the Scuola of St Mark. The republic entrusted the work to the Florentine Verrocchio, who dying before the statue was completed begged the government to allow his pupil Lorenzo di Credi to carry it to a conclusion. The Venetians, however, called in Alessandro Leopardi, who cast the great equestrian group and added the pure and graceful pedestal. The monument was unveiled on the 21st of March 1496. Leopardo was also the creator (1505) of the three handsome bronze sockets in front of St Mark's which held the flagstaffs of the banners of Cyprus, Morea and Crete, when the republic was mistress of those territories.

By the side of the sea in the piazzetta, on to which the west facade of the ducal palace faces, stand two ancient columns of Egyptian granite, one red and the other grey. These great monoliths were brought as trophies to Venice by Doge Domenico Michieli in 1126, after his victories in Syria. In 1180 they were set up with their present fine capitals and bases by a Lombard engineer, Niccolo de' Barattieri. The grey column is surmounted by a fine bronze lion of Byzantine style, cast in Venice for Doge Ziani about 1178 (this was carried off to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, and sent back in pieces in 1816; but in 1893 it was put together again); and in 1329 a marble statue of St Theodore, standing upon a crocodile, was placed on the other column. Among modern monuments the most successful is that to Goldoni at San Bartolomeo near the Rialto. It is the work of the sculptor dal Zotto.


Perhaps the most famous institution of Venice is the arsenal, whose history and activity has continued unbroken from the earliest days of the republic down to the present time. The arsenal was founded about the year 1104 by the doge Ordelap Falier. Before that date Venetian shipping was built at the spot near the piazzetta, known as the terra nova, where the royal gardens now are. The arsenal, which was famous in Dante's day, received its first enlargement in 1304, when, on the design of Andrea Pisano, new building sheds and the rope walk or Tana were erected. Pisano's building sheds, nine in a row, with peculiarly shaped roofs, were still standing intact - one of the most interesting medieval monuments of Venice - until recently, but they have been modified past recognition. In 1325 the second addition, the arsenale nuovo, was made, and a third, the arsenale nuovissimo, in 1473; a fourth, the Riparto delle Galeazze, about 1 539; and in 1564 the fifth enlargement, the Canal delle Galeazze e Vasca, took place. After the fall of the republic the arsenal continued to occupy the attention of the various governments. In 1810 the site of the suppressed convent and church of the Celestia was added. The entire circuit of the arsenal, about two miles in extent, is protected by a lofty wall with turrets. The main door of the arsenal is the first example in Venice of the purely classical style. It is a noble portal, erected in 1460, apparently from designs by Fra Giocondo, with the lion of St Mark in the attic. The statuary, with Sta Giustina on the summit of the tympanum, was added in 1571 and 1578. The whole design was modified in 1688 so as to represent a triumphal arch in honour of Morosini Peloponnesiaco, who brought from Athens to Venice the four lions in Pentelic marble which now stand before the gate. (On the largest of these lions is cut a runic inscription recording an attack on the Piraeus in the 11th century by Norse warriors of the Varangian guard, under Harold Hardrada, afterwards - s047 - king of Norway.) The arsenal suffered frequently and severely from fires, the worst being those of 1509 and 1569; yet such was the wealth of Venice that in the following year she put upon the seas the fleet that crushed the Turks at Lepanto in 1571.

The Lido, which lies about 2 m. S.E. of Venice and divides the lagoon from the sea, is rapidly becoming a fashionable bathing-place. The point of San Nicolo del Lido is strongly fortified to protect the new entrance to the port (see harbour). Inside the fortress lies the old Protestant burying-ground, with tombs of Sackville, of John Murray, of Sir Francis Vincent, last ambassador but one from Great Britain to the republic, of Consul Smith, whose collection of books forms the nucleus of the King's library in the British Museum, and of Catherine Tofts, the singer, Smith's first wife. At Sant' Elisabetta is the bathing establishment.


The library of San Marco contains upwards of 35,000 printed volumes and about 10,000 manuscripts. The library is said to owe its origin to Petrarch's donation of his books to the republic. Most of these have now disappeared. In 1635 Fra Fortunato Olmo found in a room over the great door of St Mark's a number of books which he supposed to be Petrarch's gift. He sent a list to Tomasini, who published it in his Petrarca Redivivus (Patavii, 1635). These codices passed to the Marciana, and Zanetti catalogued them as the Fondo antico. It is very doubtful whether these books really belonged to Petrarch. We may date the true foundation of the library to the donation of Cardinal Bessarion. Bessarion had intended to bequeath his books to the Benedictines of San Giorgio Maggiore, but Pietro Morosini, Venetian ambassador at Rome, pointed out the inconvenience of housing his library on an island that could not easily be reached. The cardinal therefore obtained a bull from Pope Paul II., permitting him to recall his original donation, and in a letter dated from the baths of Viterbo, May 13th, 1468, he made over his library to the republic. The principal treasures of the collection, including splendid Byzantine book-covers, the priceless codices of Homer, the Grimani Breviary, an early Dante, &c., are exhibited under cases in the Sala Bessarione in the Zecca or mint where the library has been installed. Another library was left to the public by the munificence of Count QuiriniStampalia, who bequeathed his collections and his house at Santa Maria Formosa to be held in trust for students. The state archives are housed in the Franciscan monastery at the Frari. They contain the voluminous and invaluable records of the Venetian republic, diplomatic, judicial, commercial, notarial, &c. Under the republic the various departments of state stored their records in various buildings, at the ducal palace, at the Scuola di San Teodoro, at the Camerlenghi. The Austrian government gathered all these into one building and arranged the vast masses of papers in fairly convenient order. Though the state papers of Venice have suffered from fire and the series begins comparatively late, yet their fullness and the world-wide sweep of Venetian interests render this collection an inexhaustible storehouse of data for students. Among other learned institutions we may mention the Ateneo Veneto, the Deputazione per la Storia Patria, and the Royal Institute of Science, Letters and Art, which has its seat in the Palazzo Loredan at Santo Stefano.


Under the republic commercial shipping used to enter Venice by the Tort of San Nicole del Lido and lie along the quay called the Riva degli Schiavoni, in the basin of San Marco, and up the broad Giudecca Canal. But with the decline of Venice the trade of the port fell off; the mouth of the Lido entrance became gradually silted up owing to the joint action of the tide and the current, and for many years complete stagnation characterized the port. Under Austrian rule a revival began, which has been continued and intensified since Venice became part of united Italy. When the railway bridge brought Venice into touch with the mainland and the rest of Europe, it became necessary to do something to reopen the harbour to larger shipping. The Austrians, abandoning the nearer Lido entrance to the lagoons, resolved to deepen and keep open the Malamocco entrance. This is 8 m. distant from Venice, and can only be reached by a long and tortuous channel across the lagoon, whose course is marked out by those groups of piles which are so characteristic a feature of the lagoon landscape. The channel required constant dredging and was altogether inconvenient; yet for many years it remained the main sea approach to Venice. A dock was constructed at the western or farther end of the Giudecca Canal, near the railway. The unification of Italy, the growing prosperity of the country, above all the opening of the Suez Canal, which restored to Venice the full value of her position as the port farthest into the heart of Europe, brought about an immense expansion of trade. The government accordingly resolved to reopen the Lido entrance to the lagoon, and thus to afford a shorter and more commodious access from the sea. As at the Malamocco entrance so at the Lido, two moles were run out in a south-westerly direction; the westerly is about 2 m., the easterly about 3 m. in length. The natural scour thus created has given a depth of 26 ft. of water through the sand-bank. The mean rise and fall of the tide is about 2 ft., but under certain conditions of wind the variation amounts to 5 ft. and over. The health of the city depends, of course, to a large extent on this ebb and flow. The government also turned its attention to the inadequate accommodation at the docks, and proposals for a new quay on the western side of the present basin, and for a second basin 900 yds. long and 170 yds. wide, were the result.


A comparison between the exports and imports of the years 1886 and 1905 will give an exact idea of the rate at which the port of Venice developed. In 1886 the total value of exports to foreign countries amounted to £7,239,479; of imports, £8,788,012. In 1905 the exports to foreign countries valued £11,650,932, the imports £13,659,306. As has been the case throughout her history, the trade of Venice is still mainly a transit trade. Wheat, coal, cotton, petroleum, wood, lime and cement are brought into Venice for shipment to the Levant or for distribution over Italy and Europe.

Venice became very celebrated in the 15th century for textiles. Its damasks and other silk stuffs with patterns of extraordinary beauty surpassed in variety and splendour those of the other chief centres of silk-weaving, such as Florence and Genoa. In addition to the native stuffs, an immense quantity of costly Oriental carpets, wall-hangings and other textiles was imported into Venice, partly for its own use, and partly for export throughout western Europe. On occasions of festivals or pageants the balconies, the bridges, the boats, and even the facades of the houses, were hung with rich Eastern carpets or patterned textiles in gold and coloured silk. The glass manufactory of Murano (q.v.), a small island about 12 m. to the north of Venice, was a great source of revenue to the republic. Glass drinking cups and ornamental vessels, some decorated with enamel painting, and "silvered" mirrors were produced in great quantities from the 14th century downwards, and exported. Like many other arts in Venice, that of glass-making appears to have been imported from Moslem countries, and the influence of Oriental design can be traced in much of the Venetian glass. The art of making stained xxv11.3 2 a glass windows was not practised by the Venetians; almost the only fine glass in Venice is that in a south transept window in the Dominican church, which, though designed by able Venetian painters, is obviously the work of foreigners.

The ancient glass-bead industry (conterie), which some years since suffered severely from over-production, has now regained its position through the union of the different factories, by which the output is controlled in such a way as to render trade profitable. Venetian beads are now sent in large quantities to the various colonies in Africa, and to India, Sumatra and Borneo. Similarly, the glass industry has revived. New amalgams and methods of colouring have been discovered, and fresh forms have been diligently studied. Special progress has been made in the production of mirrors, electric lamps, candelabra and mosaics. New industries are those of tapestry, brocades, imitation of ancient stuffs, cloth of silver and gold, and Venetian laces. The secret of lace-making was believed to have been lost, but the late Signor Fambri discovered at Chioggia an old woman who knew it, and placed her at the head of a lace school. Fambri was ruined by his enterprise, but other manufacturers, more expert than he, drew profit from his initiative, and founded flourishing factories at Pellestrina and Burano. Other important industries are wood-carving (of an artistic excellence long unknown), artistic iron-working, jewelling, bronze-casting, the production of steam-engines, machinery, matches (largely exported to Turkey, Egypt, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Greece), clock-making, wool-weaving and the manufacture of chemical manures.


In 1548 the population of Venice numbered 158,069; in 1607-29, 142,804; in 1706, 140,256; in 1785, 1 39, 0 95; in 1881, 132,826. The municipal bulletin of the 31st of December 1906 gives a total of 169,563, not including 4835 soldiers.


Venice is administered by a prefect representing the crown and responsible to the central government at Rome, from whom he receives orders. Under his cognizance come questions of public order, health and elections to parliament. The two arms of the police, the Carabinieri and the Publica Sicurezza, are at his disposal. Purely local matters, however, are in the hands of the municipio or town council. At the head of the town council is the Sindaco or mayor, elected by the council itself.

Under the republic, and until modern times, the water supply of Venice was furnished by the storage of rain-water supplemented by water brought from the Brenta in boats. The famous Venetian pozzi, or wells for storing rain-water from the roofs and streets, consisted of a closed basin with a water-tight stratum of clay at the bottom, upon which a slab of stone was laid; a brick shaft of radiating bricks laid in a permeable jointing material of clay and sand was then built. At some distance from the shaft a square water-tight wall was built, and the space between it and the shaft was filled in with sand, which was purified of all saline matter by repeated washings; on the ground-level perforated stones set at the four corners of the basin admitted the rain-water, which was discharged from the roofs by lead pipes; this water filtered through the sand and percolated into the shaft of the well, whence it was drawn in copper buckets. The present water supply, introduced in 1884, is brought from the commune of Trebaseleghe, where it is collected from 120 artesian wells. It is carried under the lagoon to Sant' Andrea, where the reservoirs are placed.

Of the 19,000 houses in Venice only 6000 have drains and sinks, all the others discharge sewage through pipes directly or indirectly into the canals. With the rise and fall of the tide the discharge pipes are flushed at the bottom. An important investigation undertaken by the Bacterioscopical Laboratory, with regard to the pollution of the Venetian canals by the city sewage, led to the discovery that the water of the lagoons possesses auto-purifying power, not only in the large canals but even in the smallest ramifications of the waterways. The investigation was carried out with scrupulous scientific rigour upon samples of water taken in every part of the city, at all states of the tide and under various atmospheric conditions.

The church is ruled by the patriarch of Venice, the metropolitan of the province formed by the Veneto. The patriarch of Venice is usually raised to the purple. The patriarchate dates from 1451,. when on the death of Domenico Michiel, patriarch of Grado, the seat of that honour was transferred from desolate and insalubrious. Grado to the cathedral church of Castello in Venice, and Michiel's. successor, Lorenzo Giustinian, assumed the title of patriarch of Venice. On the fall of the republic St Mark's became the cathedral church of the patriarch. There are thirty parishes in the city of Venice and fifteen in the lagoon islands and on the littoral.

In recent times there has been a good deal of activity in Venice in regard to the preservation of its artistic and architectural treasures. Some of the earlier activity was unfortunately misplaced. St Mark's suffered on two occasions: first during the restoration of the north facade in 1843, and again during that of the south facade,, begun in 1865 and finished in 1878. The latter façade was completely reconstructed upon 2200 piles driven to great depths, with the result that the general harmony of the monument - the effect of time and of atmospheric conditions - was completely lost. A lively agitation all over Europe, and particularly in England (conducted by Ruskin and William Morris), led the Italian government to discard the Austrian plan of restoration, at least as regards the interior of the Basilica, and to respect the ancient portions which had stood the test of time and had escaped "renewal" by man. In 1880 a Vigilance Committee was appointed to watch over the restoration of the interior. The committee secured much verde antico and porphyry for the restoration of the pavement, in place of the common marbles which it had been intended to use, and organized special workshops for the restoration and preservation of the ancient mosaics, which it had been intended to detach and replace. Pieces already detached were restored to their original positions, and those blackened by damp and dust were carefully cleaned. Breaks were filled up with cubes obtained from fragments of contemporary mosaics previously demolished. In this way the mosaics of the two arches of the atrium and those of the Zeno chapel were cleaned and preserved.

Contemporaneously with the restoration of the southern facade of St Mark's, the restoration of the colonnade of the ducal palace towards the Piazzetta and the Mole was undertaken at a cost of £23,000. The chief work was executed at the south-west angle, where the columns of the arcade had become so broken and distorted as to menace the safety of the whole building. The corner towards the Ponte della Puglia was also restored, and the hideous device of walling up the five last arches, adopted in the 16th century by the architect Da Ponte, was removed without prejudice to the stability of the structure. In order to lighten the palace the Venetian Institute of Science, Letters and Arts removed its headquarters and its natural history collection to Santo Stefano. For the same reason the Biblioteca Marciana with its 350,000 volumes was moved to the Old Mint, opposite the ducal palace. The space thus cleared has been used for the rearrangement of the Archaeological and Artistic Museum. Side by side with these changes has proceeded the reorganization of the Royal Gallery of Ancient Art, which, created by Napoleon I. for the students of the adjoining Academy of Fine Arts, gradually acquired such importance that in 1882 the government divided it from the academy and rendered it autonomous. The gallery now constitutes a unique collection of Venetian paintings from the most ancient artists down to Tiepolo, one hall only being reserved for other Italian schools and one for foreign schools. Altogether the gallery contains twenty rooms, one being assigned to the complete cycle of the "History of Saint Ursula," by Carpaccio; another to Giambellino and to the Celliniani; and a whole wall of a third being occupied by the famous Veronese, "11 Convito in casa di Levi." Titian's "Presentazione al Tempio," painted for the Scuola della Carita, which is now the seat of the gallery, has been placed in its original position. The hall of the Assumption has been left untouched. Nineteenth-century pictures have been eliminated as foreign to the character of the collection, and inferior works relegated to a side passage. The reorganization of the Archaeological and Artistic Museum and of the Royal Gallery of Ancient Art coincided with the inauguration in April 1895 of a series of biennial International Art Exhibitions, arranged in order to celebrate the silver wedding of the king and queen of Italy. A special brick structure was erected in the public gardens to receive the works of contemporary artists, both Italian and foreign. The selection of works was made by an international jury from which Venetian artists were excluded. The second exhibition, visited by 336,500 persons, was held in 1897, and a third in 1899. The success of this exhibition (visited by 407,930 persons) led to the organization of a fourth exhibition in 1901, largely devoted to the works of Ruskin. The institution of these exhibitions furnished Prince Giovanelli with an opportunity to found at Venice a Gallery of Modern Art, for which a home was found in the Palazzo Pesaro, bequeathed to the city by Princess Bevilacqua la Masa.


It is usually affirmed that the state of Venice owes its origin to the barbarian invasions of north Italy; that it was founded by refugees from the mainland cities who sought asylum from the Huns in the impregnable shallows and mud banks of the lagoons; and that the year 452, the year when Attila sacked Aquileia, may be taken as the birth-year of Venice. That is true in a measure. Venice, like Rome and other famous cities, was an asylum city. But it is nearly certain that long before Attila and his Huns swept down upon the Venetian plain the little islands of the lagoon already had a population of poor but hardy fisherfolk living in quasi-independence, thanks to their poverty and their inaccessible site. This population was augmented from time to time by refugees from the mainland cities of Aquileia, Concordia, Opitergium Altinum and Patavium. But these did not mingle readily with the indigenous population; as each wave of barbarian invasion fell back, these refugees returned to their mainland homes, and it required the pressure of many successive incursions to induce them finally to abandon the mainland for the lagoon, a decision which was not reached till the Lombard invasion of 568. On each occasion, no doubt, some of the refugees remained behind in the islands, and gradually built and peopled the twelve lagoon townships, which formed the germ of the state of Venice and were subsequently concentrated at Rialto or in the city we now know as Venice. These twelve townships were Grado, Bibione, Caorle, Jesolo, Heraclea, Torcello, Murano, Rialto, Malamocco, Poveglia, Chioggia and Sottomarina. The effect of the final Lombard invasion is shown by the resolve to quit the mainland and the rapid building of churches which is recorded by the Cronaca altinate. The people who finally abandoned the mainland and took their priests with them are the people who made the Venetian republic. But they were not as yet a homogeneous population. The rivalries of the mainland cities were continued at closer quarters inside the narrow circuit of the lagoons, and there was, moreover, the initial schism between the indigenous fisher population and the town-bred refugees, and these facts constitute the first of the problems which now affronted the growing community: the internal problem of fusion and development. The second problem of prime importance was the external problem of independence. The early history of the republic is chiefly concerned with the solution of these two problems.

To take the problem of independence first. There is little doubt that the original lagoon population depended for its administration, as far as it had any, upon the larger cities of the mainland. There is a tradition that Venice was founded by "consuls from Padua"; and Padua claimed complete control of the course of the Brenta down to its mouth at Malamocco. The destruction of the mainland cities, and the flight of their leading inhabitants to the lagoons, encouraged the lagoon population to assert a growing independence, and led them to advance the doctrine that they were "born independent." Their development as a maritime people, engaged in small trading and intimately acquainted with their home waters, led Belisarius to seek their help in his task of recovering Italy from the Goths. He was successful; and the lagoons became, theoretically at least, a part of the Eastern empire. But the empire was vast and weak, and its capital lay far away; in practice, no doubt, the lagoon population enjoyed virtual independence, though later the Byzantine claim to suzerainty became one of the leading factors in the formation of the state. It was from Byzantium that the Venetian people received the first recognition of their existence as a separate community. Their maritime importance compelled Narses, the imperial commander, to seek their aid in transporting his army from Grado; and when the Paduans appealed to the Eunuch to restore their rights over the Brenta, the Venetians replied by declaring that islands of the lagoon and the river mouths that fell into the estuary were the property of those who had rendered them habitable and serviceable. Narses declined to intervene, Padua was powerless to enforce its claims and Venice established a virtual independence of the mainland. Nor was it long before Venice made a similar assertion to the imperial representative, Longinus. He was endeavouring to treat with Alboin and the Lombards, and desired to assure himself of Venetian support. He invited the Venetians to give him an escort to Constantinople, which they did, and also to acknowledge themselves subjects of the empire. But they replied that "God who is our help and protector has saved us that we might dwell upon these waters. This second Venice which we have raised in the lagoons is our mighty habitation; no power of emperor or of prince can touch us." That was an explicit statement of Venetian aims and contentions: the place and people had made each other and now belonged exclusively to each other. Longinus admitted that the Venetians were indeed "a great people with a strong habitation"; but by dint of promising large concessions and trading privileges, he induced the Venetians to make an act of submission - though not upon oath. The terms of this pact resulted in the first diploma conferred on Venice as a separate community (584). But it was inevitable that, when the barbarians, Lombard or Frank, were once established on the mainland of Italy, Venice should be brought first into trading and then into political relations with their near neighbours, who as masters of Italy also put forward a claim to sovereignty in the lagoons. It is between the two claims of east and west that Venice struggled for and achieved recognized independence.

Turning to the other problem, that of internal fusion and consolidation, we find that in 466, fourteen years after the fall of Aquileia, the population of the twelve lagoon townships met at Grado for the election of one tribune from each island for the better government of the separate communities, and above all to put an end to rivalries which had already begun to play a disintegrating part. But when the lagoon population was largely augmented in 568 as the result of Alboin's invasion, these jealousies were accentuated, and in 584 it was found expedient to appoint twelve other tribunes, known as the Tribuni Majores, who formed a kind of central committee to deal with all matters affecting the general weal of the lagoon communities. But the Tribuni Majores were equally powerless to allay the jealousies of the growing townships which formed the lagoon community. Rivalry in fishing and in trading, coupled with ancient antipathies inherited from the various mainland cities of origin, were no doubt the cause of these internecine feuds. A crisis was reached when Christopher, patriarch of Grado, convened the people of the lagoon at Heraclea, and urged them to suppress the twelve tribunes and to choose a single head of the state. To this they agreed, and in 697 Venice elected her first doge, Paulo Lucio Anafesto.

The growing importance of the lagoon townships, owing to their maritime skill, their expanding trade, created by their position between east and west, their monopoly of salt and salted fish, which gave them a strong position in the mainland markets, rendered it inevitable that a clash must come over the question of independence, when either east or west should claim that Venice belonged to them; and inside the lagoons the growing prosperity, coupled with the external threat to their liberties, concentrated the population into two well-defined parties - what may be called the aristocratic party, because it leaned towards imperial Byzantium and also displayed a tendency to make the dogeship hereditary, and the democratic party, connected with the original population of the lagoons, aspiring to free institutions, and consequently leaning more towards the church and the Frankish kingdom which protected the church. The aristocratic party was captained by the township of Heraclea, which had given the first doge, Anafesto, to the newly formed community. The democratic party was championed first by Jesolo and then by Malamocco.

The advent of the Franks determined the final solution. The emperor Leo, the Isaurian, came to open rupture with Pope Gregory II. over the question of images. The pope appealed to Liutprand, the powerful king of the Lombards, to attack the imperial possessions in Ravenna. He did so, and expelled the exarch Paul, who took refuge in Venice and was restored to his post by the doge of the Heraclean or Byzantine party, Orso, who in return for this assistance received the imperial title of hypatos, and trading rights in Ravenna. The pope, however, soon had cause for alarm at the spread of the Lombard power which he had encouraged. Liutprand proceeded to occupy territory in the Ducato Romano. The pope, looking about for a saviour, cast his eyes on Charles Martel, whose victory at Tours had riveted the attention of the world. Charles's son, Pippin, was crowned king of Italy, entered the peninsula at the head of the Franks, defeated the Lombards, took Ravenna and presented it to the pope, while retaining a feudal superiority. Desiderius, the last Lombard king, endeavoured to recover Ravenna. Charlemagne, Pippin's son, descended upon Italy, broke up the Lombard kingdom (774), confirmed his father's donation to the pope, and in reprisals for Venetian assistance to the exarch, ordered the pope to expel the Venetians from the Pentapolis. Venice was now brought face to face with the Franks under their powerful sovereign, who soon showed that he intended to claim the lagoons as part of his new kingdom. In Venice the result of this menace was a decided reaction towards Byzantium. In opposition to the Frankish claim, Venice resolved to affirm her dependence on the Eastern empire. But the democratic party, the Frankish party in Venice, was powerful. Feeling ran high. A crisis was rapidly approaching. The Byzantine Doge Giovanni Galbaio attacked Grado, the see of the Francophil Patriarch Giovanni, captured it, and flung the bishop from the tower of his palace. But the murdered patriarch was succeeded by his no less Francophil nephew Fortunatus, a strong partisan, a restless and indomitable man, who along with Obelerio of Malamocco now assumed the lead of the democratic party. He and his followers plotted the murder of the doge, were discovered, and sought safety at the court of Charlemagne, where Fortunatus strongly urged the Franks to attack the lagoons.

Meantime the internal politics of Venice had been steadily preparing the way for the approaching fusion at Rialto. The period from the election of the first doge to the appearance of the Franks was characterized by fierce struggles between Heraclea and Jesolo. At length the whole population agreed to fix their capital at Malamocco, a compromise between the two incompatible parties, marking an important step towards final fusion at Rialto.

That central event of early Venetian history was reached when Pippin resolved to make good his title as king of Italy. He turned his attention to the lagoon of Venice, which had been steadily growing in commercial and maritime importance, and had, on the whole, shown a sympathy for Byzantium rather than for the Franks. Pippin determined to subdue the lagoons. He gathered a fleet at Ravenna, captured Chioggia, and pushed on up the Lido towards the capital of the lagoons at Malamocco. But the Venetians, in face of the danger, once more removed their capital, this time to Rialto, that group of islands we now call Venice, lying in mid-lagoon between the lidi and the mainland. This step was fatal to Pippin's designs. The intricate water-ways and the stubborn Venetian defence baffled all his attempts to reach Rialto; the summer heats came on; the Lido was unhealthy. Pippin was forced to retire. A treaty between Charlemagne and Nicephorus (81o) recognized the Venetians as subjects of the Eastern empire, while preserving to them the trading rights on the mainland of Italy which they had acquired under Liutprand.

The concentration at Rialto marks the beginning of the history of Venice as a full-grown state. The external menace to their independence had welded together the place and the people; the same pressure had brought about the fusion of the conflicting parties in the lagoon townships into one homogeneous whole. There was for the future one Venice and one Venetian people dwelling at Rialto, the city of compromise between the dangers from the mainland, exemplified by Attila and Alboin, and the perils from the sea, illustrated by Pippin's attack. The position of Venice was now assured. The state was a vassal of a weak and distant empire, which would leave it virtually free to pursue its own career; it was an independent tributary of a near and powerful kingdom with which it could trade, and trade between east and west became henceforth the note of its development.

The first doge elected in Rialto was Angelo Particiaco, a Heraclean noble, with a strong bias towards Byzantium, and his reign was signalized by the building of the first church of San Marco, and by the translation of the saint's body from Alexandria, as though to affirm and to symbolize the creation of united Venice.

The history of Venice during the next two hundred years is marked externally by the growth of the city, thanks to an ever-expanding trade, both down the Adriatic, which brought the republic into collision with the Dalmatian pirates and led to their final conquest, in 1000, by the doge Pietro Orseolo II., and also on the mainland, where Venice gradually acquired trading rights, partly by imperial diploma, partly by the establishment and the supply of markets on the mainland rivers, the Sile and the Brenta. Internally this period is characterized by the attempt of three powerful families, the Particiachi, the Candiani and the Orseoli, to create an hereditary dogeship, and the violent resistance offered by the people. We find seven of the Particiachi, five Candiani and three Orseoli reigning in almost unbroken succession, until, with the ostracism of the whole Orseolo family in 1032, the dynastic tendency was crushed for ever. During the same period we also note the development of certain families, thanks to the accumulation of wealth by trade, and here we get the beginnings of that commercial aristocracy whose evolution was the dominant factor in the constitutional history of the republic.

The growing wealth of Venice soon attracted the cupidity of her piratical neighbours on the coast of Dalmatia. The swift Liburnian vessels began to raid the Lido, compelling the Venetians to arm their own vessels and thus to form the nucleus of their famous fleet, the importance of which was recognized by the Golden Bull of the emperor Basil, which conferred on Venetian merchants privileges far more extensive than any they had hitherto enjoyed, on condition that the Venetian fleet was to be at the disposition of the emperor. But the Dalmatian raids continued to harass Venetian trade, till, in r000, the great doge Pietro Orseolo II. attacked and captured Curzola and stormed the piratical stronghold of Lagosta, crushing the freebooters in their citadel. The doge assumed the title of duke of Dalmatia, and a great step was taken towards the supremacy of Venice in the Adriatic, which was essential to the free development of her commerce and also enabled her to reap the pecuniary advantages to be derived from the Crusades. She now commanded the route to the Holy Land and could supply the necessary transport, and from the Crusades her growing aristocracy reaped large profits. Orseolo's victory was commemorated and its significance affirmed by the magnificent symbolical ceremony of the "wedding of the sea" (Sposalizio del Mar), celebrated henceforward every Ascension day. The result of the first three Crusades was that Venice acquired trading rights, a Venetian quarter, church, market, bakery, &c., in many of the Levant cities, e.g. in Sidon (1102) and in Tyre (1123). The fall of Tyre marks a great advance in development of Venetian trade; the republic had now passed beyond the Adriatic, and had taken an important step towards that complete command of the Levant which she established after the Fourth Crusade.

This expansion of the trade of Venice resulted in the rapid development of the wealthier classes, with a growing tendency to draw together for the purpose of securing to themselves the entire direction of Venetian politics in order to dominate Venetian commerce. To achieve their object, a double line of conduct was imposed upon them: they had to absorb the powers of the doge, and also to deprive the people of the voice they possessed in the management of state affairs by their presence in the concione or general assembly of the whole community, which was still the fountain of all authority. The first step towards curtailing the power of the doge was taken in 1032, when the family of the Orseoli was finally expelled from Venice and the doge Domenico Flabianico was called to the throne. A law was then passed forbidding for the future the election of a doge-consort, a device by which the Particiachi, the Candiani and the Orseoli had each of them nearly succeeded in carrying out their dynastic ambitions. Further, two ducal councillors were appointed to assist the doge, and he was compelled, not merely permitted, to seek the advice of the more prominent citizens at moments of crisis. By this reform two important offices in the Venetian constitution - the privy council (consiglieri ducali) and the senate (the pregadi or invited) - came into being. Both were gradually developed on the lines desired by the aristocracy, till we reach the year 1171.

The growth of Venetian trade and wealth in the Levant roused the jealousy of Genoa and the hostility of the imperial court at Constantinople, where the Venetians are said to have numbered 200,000 and to have held a large quarter of the city in terror by their brawls. The emperor Manuel I., urged on by the Genoese and other rivals of Venice, seized the pretext. The Venetians were arrested and their goods confiscated. Popular feeling at Venice ran so high that the state was rashly swept into war with the empire. To provide the requisite funds for this vast undertaking, a forced loan of % on net incomes was raised; the money bore interest at the rate of 4%. The bonds were negotiable, and afford us the earliest instance of the issue of government stock. The doge Vitale Michiel II. led the expedition in person. It proved a disastrous failure, and on the return of the shattered remnants (1171) a great constitutional reform seemed necessary. The Venetians resolved to create a deliberative assembly, which should act with greater caution than the concione, which had just landed the state in a ruinous campaign. Forty members were elected in each of the six divisions of the city, giving a body of 480 members, who served for one year and on retiring named two deputies for each sestiere to nominate the council for the succeeding year. This was the germ of the great council, the Maggior Consiglio, which was rendered strictly oligarchic in 1296. As the duties of this council were to appoint all officers of state, including the doge, it is clear that by its creation the aristocracy had considerably curtailed the powers of the people, who had hitherto elected the doge in general assembly; and at the creation of Michiel's successor, Sebastiano Ziani (1172), the new doge was presented to the people merely for confirmation, not for election. The assembly protested, but was appeased by the empty formula, "This is your doge an it please you." Moreover, still further tq limit the power of the doge, the number of ducal councillors was raised from two to six. In 1198, on the election of Enrico Dandolo, the aristocracy carried their policy one step farther, and by the promissione ducale, or coronation oath, which every doge was required to swear, they acquired a powerful weapon for the suppression of all that remained of ancient ducal authority. The promissione ducale was binding on the doge and his family, and could be, and frequently was, altered at each new election, a commission, Inquisitori sopra it doge def unto, being appointed to scrutinize the actions of the deceased doge and to add to the new oath whatever provisions they thought necessary to reduce the dogeship to the position of a mere figurehead in the state.

In spite of the check to their trade received from the emperor Manuel in 1171, Venetian commerce continued to flourish, the Venetian fleet to grow and the Venetians to amass wealth. When the Fourth Crusade was proclaimed at Soissons, it was to Venice that the leaders applied for transport, and she agreed to furnish transport for 4500 horses, 9000 knights, 20,000 foot, and provisions for one year: the price was 85,000 silver marks of Cologne and half of all conquests. But Zara and Dalmatia had revolted from Venice in 1166 and were as yet unsubdued. Venetian supremacy in the. Adriatic had been temporarily shaken. The 85,000 marks, the price of transport, were not forthcoming, and the Venetians declined to sail till they were paid. The doge Dandolo now saw an opportunity to benefit Venice. He offered to postpone the receipt of the money if the Crusaders would reduce Zara and Dalmatia for the republic. These terms were accepted. Zara was recovered, and while still at Zara the leaders of the Crusade, supported by Dandolo, resolved for their own private purposes to attack Constantinople, instead of making for the Holy Land. Boniface, marquis of Monferrat, desired to make good the claim to Salonica, and the Venetians doubtless wished to upset the Greek empire, which had recently shown itself so friendly to their rivals the Genoese. Constantinople fell (1204), thanks chiefly to the ability of the Venetians under Dandolo. The city was sacked, and a Latin empire, with Baldwin of Flanders as emperor, was established at Constantinople (see Later Roman Empire).

In the partition of the spoils Venice claimed and received, in her own phrase, "a half and a quarter of the Roman empire." To her fell the Cyclades, the Sporades, the islands and the eastern shores of the Adriatic, the shores of the Propontis and the Euxine, and the littoral of Thessaly, and she bought Crete from the marquis of Monferrat. The accession of territory was not only vast, it was of the highest importance to Venetian commerce. She now commanded the Adriatic, the Ionian islands, the archipelago, the Sea of Marmora and the Black Sea, the trade route between Constantinople and western Europe, and she had already established herself in the seaports of Syria, and thus held the trade route between Asia Minor and Europe. She was raised at once to the position of a European power. In order to hold these possessions, she borrowed from the Franks the feudal system, and granted fiefs in the Greek islands to her more powerful families, on condition that they held the trade route open for her. The ,expansion of commerce which resulted from the Fourth Crusade soon made itself evident in the city by a rapid development in its architecture and by a decided strengthening of the commercial aristocracy, which eventually led to the great constitutional reform - the closing of the Maggior Consiglio in 1296, whereby Venice became a rigid oligarchy. Externally this rapid success awoke the implacable hatred of Genoa, and led to the long and exhausting series of Genoese wars which ended at Chioggia in 1380.

The closing of the great council was, no doubt, mainly due to the slowly formed resolution on the part of the great commercial families to secure a monopoly in the Levant trade which the Fourth Crusade had placed definitely in their hands. The theory of the government, a theory expressed throughout the whole commercial career of the republic, the theory which made Venice a rigidly protective state, was that the Levant trade belonged solely to Venice and her citizens. No one but a Venetian citizen was permitted to share in the profits of that trade. But the population of Venice was growing rapidly, and citizenship was as yet undefined. To secure for themselves the command of trade the leading commercial families resolved to erect themselves into a close gild, which should have in its hands the sole direction of the business concern, the exploitation of the East. This policy took definite shape in 1297, when the Doge Pietro Gradenigo proposed and carried the following measure: the supreme court, the Quarantia, was called upon to ballot, one by one, the names of all who for the last four years had held a seat in the great council created in 1171. Those who received twelve favourable votes became members of the great council. A commission of three was appointed to submit further names for ballot. The three commissioners at once laid down a rule - which contains the essence of the act - that only those who could prove that a paternal ancestor had sat in the great council should be eligible for election. This measure divided the community into three great categories: (1) those who had never sat in the council themselves and whose ancestors had never sat; these were of course the vast majority of the population, and they were excluded for ever from the great council: (2) those whose paternal ancestors .had sat in the council; these were eligible and were gradually admitted to a seat, their sons becoming eligible on majority: (3) those who were of the council at the passing of this act or had sat during the four preceding years; their sons likewise became eligible on attaining majority. As all offices were filled by the great council, exclusion meant political disfranchisement. A close caste was created which very seldom and very reluctantly admitted new members to its body. The Heralds' College, the avvogadori di comun, in order to ensure purity of blood, were ordered to open a register of all marriages and births among members of the newly created caste, and these registers formed the basis of the famous Libro d'oro. The closing of the great council and the creation of the patrician caste brought about a revolution among those who suffered disfranchisement. In the year 1300 the people, led by Marin Bocconio, attempted to force their way into the great council and to reclaim their rights. The doors were opened, the ringleaders were admitted and immediately seized and hanged. Ten years later a more serious revolution, the only revolution that seriously shook the state, broke out and was also crushed. This conspiracy was championed by Bajamonte Tiepolo, and seems to have been an expression of patrician protest against the serrata, just as Bocconio's revolt had represented popular indignation. Tiepolo, followed by members of the Quirini family and many nobles with their followers, attempted to seize the Piazza on the 15th of June 1310. They were met by the Doge Pietro Gradenigo and crushed. Quirini was killed, and Tiepolo and his followers fled.

The chief importance of the Tiepoline conspiracy lies in the fact that it resulted in the establishment of the Council of Ten. Erected first as a temporary committee of public safety to hunt down the remnant of the conspirators and to keep a vigilant watch on Tiepolo's movements, it was finally made permanent in 1335. The secrecy of its deliberations and the rapidity with which it could act made it a useful adjunct to the constitution, and it gradually absorbed many of the more important functions of the state.

With the creation of the Council of Ten the main lines of the Venetian constitution were completed. At the basis of the pyramid we get the great council, the elective body composed of all who enjoyed the suffrage, i.e. of the patrician caste. Above the great council came the senate, the deliberative and legislative body par excellence. To the senate belonged all questions relating to. foreign affairs, finance, commerce, peace and war. Parallel with the senate, but extraneous to the main lines of the constitution, came the Council of Ten. As a committee of public safety it dealt with all cases of conspiracy; for example, it tried the Doge Marino Falier and the General Carmagnola; on the same ground all cases affecting public morals came within its extensive criminal jurisdiction. In the region of foreign affairs it was in communication with envoys abroad, and its orders would override those of the senate. It also had its own departments of finance and war. Above the senate and the Ten came the Collegio or cabinet, the administrative branch of the constitution. All affairs of state passed through its hands. It was the initiatory body; and it lay with the Collegio to send matters for deliberation either before the senate or before the Ten. At the apex of the pyramid came the doge and his council, the point of highest honour and least weight in the constitution.

To turn now to the external events which followed on the Fourth Crusade. These events are chiefly concerned with the long struggle with Genoa over the possession of the Levant and Black Sea trade. By the establishment of the Latin empire Venice had gained a preponderance. But it was impossible that the rival Venetian and Genoese merchants, dwelling at close quarters in the Levant cities, should not come to blows. They fell out at Acre in 1253. The first Genoese war began and ended in 1258 by the complete defeat of Genoa. But in 1261 the Greeks, supported by the Genoese, took advantage of the absence of the Venetian fleet from Constantinople to seize the city and to restore the Greek empire in the person of Michael VIII. Palaeologus. The balance turned against Venice again. The Genoese were established in the spacious quarter of Galata and threatened to absorb the trade of the Levant. To recover her position Venice went to war again, and in 1264 destroyed the Genoese fleet off Trepani, in Sicilian waters. This victory was decisive at Constantinople, where the emperor abandoned the defeated Genoese and restored Venice to her former position. The appearance of the Ottoman Turk and the final collapse of the Latin empire in Syria brought about the next campaign between the rival maritime powers. Tripoli (1289) and Acre (1291) fell to the Mussulman, and the Venetian title to her trading privileges, her diplomas from the Latin empire, disappeared. To the scandal of Christendom, Venice at once entered into treaty with the new masters of Syria and obtained a confirmation of her ancient trading rights. Genoa replied by attempting to close the Dardanelles. Venice made this action a casus belli. The Genoese won a victory in the gulf of Alexandretta (1294); but on the other hand the Venetians under Ruggiero Morosini forced the Dardanelles and sacked the Genoese quarter of Galata. The decisive engagement, however, of this campaign was fought at Curzola (1299) in the Adriatic, when Venice suffered a crushing defeat. A peace, honourable to both parties, was brought about by Matteo Visconti, lord of Milan, in that same year. But the quarrel between the republics, both fighting for trade supremacy - that is to say, for their lives - could not come to an end till one or other was thoroughly crushed. The fur trade of the Black Sea furnished the pretext for the next war (1355-54), which ended in the crushing defeat of Venice at Sapienza, and the loss of her entire fleet. But though Venice herself seemed to lie open to the Genoese, they took no advantage of their victory; they were probably too exhausted. The lord of Milan again arranged a peace (1355) We have now reached the last phase of the struggle for maritime supremacy. Under pressure from Venice the emperor John V. Palaeologus granted possession of the island of Tenedos to the republic. The island commanded the entrance to the Dardanelles. Genoa determined to oppose the concession, and war broke out. The Genoese Admiral Luciano Doria sailed into the Adriatic, attacked and defeated Vettor Pisani at Pola in Istria, and again Venice and the lagoons lay at the mercy of the enemy. Doria resolved to blockade and starve Venice to surrender. He was master of the sea, and the flow of provisions from the mainland was cut off by Genoa's ally, Francesco I. Carrara, lord of Padua. Doria seized Chioggia as a base of operations and drew his fleet inside the lagoons. The situation was extremely critical for Venice, but she rose to the occasion. Vettor Pisani was placed in command, and by a stroke of naval genius he grasped the weakness of Doria's position. Sailing to Chioggia he blocked the channel leading from the lagoon to the sea, and Doria was caught in a trap. Pisani stationed himself outside the Lido, on the open sea, to intercept relief should any appear, and Doria, instead of blockading Venice, was himself blockaded in Chioggia. For many months the siege went on; but Pisani gradually assumed the offensive as Genoese spirits and food ran low. Finally, in June 1380 the flower of the Genoese fleet surrendered at discretion. Genoa never recovered from the blow, and Venice remained undisputed mistress of the Mediterranean and the Levant trade.

The defeat of Genoa and the establishment of Venetian supremacy in the Mediterranean brought the state to a further step in its development. The undisputed mastery of the eastern trade increased its bulk in Venice. But as the city became the recognized mart for exchange of goods between east and west, the freedom of the western outlet assumed the aspect of a paramount question. It was useless for Venice to accumulate eastern merchandise if she could not freely pass it on to the west. If the various states on the immediate mainland could levy taxes on Venetian goods in transit, the Venetian merchant would inevitably suffer in profits. The geographical position of Venice and her commercial policy alike compelled her to attempt to secure the command of the rivers and roads of the mainland, at least up to the mountains, that is to say, of the north-western outlet, just as she had obtained command of the south-eastern inlet. She was compelled to turn her attention, though reluctantly, to the mainland of Italy. Another consideration drove her in the same direction. During the long wars with Genoa, after the defeats of Curzola, Sapienza, Pola, above all during the crisis of the war of Chioggia, it had been brought home to the Venetians that, as they owned no meat or corn-producing territory, a crushing defeat at sea and a blockade on the mainland exposed them to the grave danger of being starved into surrender. Both these pressing necessities, for a free outlet for merchandise and for a food-supplying area, drove Venice on to the mainland, and compelled her to initiate a policy which eventually landed her in the disastrous wars of Cambrai. The period with which we are now dealing is the epoch of the despots, the signori, and in pursuit of expansion on the mainland Venice was brought into collision first with the Scaligeri of Verona, then with the Carraresi of Padua, and finally with the Visconti of Milan. Hitherto Venice had enjoyed the advantages of isolation; the lagoons were virtually impregnable; she had no land frontier to defend. But when she touched the mainland she at once became possessed of a frontier which could be attacked, and found herself compelled either to expand in self-defence or to lose the territory she had acquired.

Venice had already established a tentative hold on the immediate mainland as early as 1339. She was forced into war by Mastino della Scala, lord of Padua, Vicenza, Treviso, Feltre and Belluno, as well as of Verona, who imposed a duty on the transport of Venetian goods. A league against the Scala domination was formed, and the result was the fall of the family. Venice took possession of Padua, but in the terms of the league she at once conferred the lordship on the Carraresi, retaining Treviso and Bassano for herself. But it is not till we come to the opening of the next century that Venice definitely acquired land possessions and found herself committed to all the difficulties and intricacies of Italian mainland politics. On the death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti in 1402, his large possessions broke up, His neighbours and his generals seized what was nearest to hand. Francesco II. Carrara, lord of Padua, attempted to seize Vicenza and Verona. But Venice had been made to suffer at the hands of Carrara, who had levied heavy dues on transit, and moreover during the Chioggian War had helped the Genoese and cut off the food supply from the mainland. She was therefore forced in self-defence to crush the family of Carrara and to make herself permanently mistress of the immediate mainland. Accordingly when Gian Galeazzo's widow applied to the republic for help against Carrara it was readily granted, and, after some years of fighting, the possessions of the Carraresi, Padua, Treviso, Bassano, commanding the Val Sugana route, as well as Vicenza and Verona, passed definitely under Venetian rule. This expansion of mainland territory was followed in 1420 by the acquisition of Friuli after a successful war with the emperor Sigismund, thus bringing the possessions of the republic up to the Carnic and Julian Alps, their natural frontier on the north-east.

Venice was soon made to feel the consequences of having become a mainland power, the difficulties entailed by holding possessions which others coveted, and the weakness of a land frontier. To the west the new duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, was steadily piecing together the fragments of his father's shattered duchy. He was determined to recover Verona and Vicenza from Venice, and intended, as his father had done, to make himself master of all north Italy. The conflict between Venice and Milan led to three wars in 1426, 1427 and 1429. Venice was successful on the whole. She established her hold permanently on Verona and Vicenza, and acquired besides both Brescia and Bergamo; and later she occupied Crema. The war of Ferrara and the peace of Bagnolo (1484) gave her Rovigo and the Polesine. This, with the exception of a brief tenure of Cremona (1499-1512), formed her permanent territory down to the fall of the republic. Her frontiers now ran from the seacoast near Monfalcone, following the line of the Carnic and Julian and Raetian Alps to the Adda, down the course of that river till it joins the Po, and thence along the line of the Po back to the sea. But long and exhausting wars were entailed upon her for the maintenance of her hold. The rapid formation of this land empire, and the obvious intention to expand, called the attention not only of Italy but of Europe to this power which seemed destined to become supreme in north Italy, and eventually led to the league of Cambrai for the dismemberment of Venice. Contemporaneously other events were menacing the ascendancy and exhausting the treasury of the republic. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, and although Venice entered at once into treaty with the new power and desired to trade with it, not to fight with it, yet it was impossible that her possessions in the Levant and the archipelago should not eventually bring her into collision with the expanding energy of the Mussulman. Europe persistently refused to assist the republic to preserve a trade in which she had established a rigid monopoly, and Venice was left to fight the Turk single-handed. The first Turkish war lasted from 1464 to 1479, and ended in the loss of Negropont and several places in the Morea, and the payment by Venice of an annual tribute for trading rights. She was consoled, however, by the acquisition of Cyprus, which came into her possession (1488) on the extinction of the dynasty of Lusignan with the death of James II. and his son James III., Caterina Cornaro, James II.'s widow, ceding the kingdom of Cyprus to Venice, since she could not hope to maintain it unaided against the Turks. The acquisition of Cyprus marks the extreme limit of Venetian expansion in the Levant; from this date onward there is little to record save the gradual loss of her maritime possessions.

Exhausting as the Turkish wars were to the Venetian treasury, her trade was still so flourishing that she might have survived the strain had not the discovery of the Cape route to the Indies cut the tap-root of her commercial prosperity by diverting the stream of traffic from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. When Diaz rounded the Cape in 1486 a fatal blow was struck at Venetian commercial supremacy. The discovery of the Cape route saved the breaking of bulk between India and Europe, and saved the dues exacted by the masters of Syria and Egypt. Trade passed into the hands of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English. Venice lost her monopoly of oriental traffic.

To complete her misfortunes, the European powers, the church and the small states of Italy, partly from jealous greed of her possessions, partly on the plea of her treason to Christendom in making terms with Islam, partly from fear of her expansion in north Italy, coalesced at Cambrai in 1508 for the partition of Venetian possessions. The war proved disastrous for Venice. The victory of Agnadello (1510) gave the allies the complete command of Venetian territory down to the shores of the lagoon. But the mutual jealousy of the allies saved her. The pope, having recovered the Romagna and secured the objects for which he had joined the league, was unwilling to see all north Italy in the hands of foreigners, and quitted the union. The emperor Maximilian failed to make good his hold on Padua, and was jealous of the French. The league broke up, and the mainland cities of the Veneto returned of their own accord to their allegiance to St Mark. But the republic never recovered from the blow, coming as it did on the top of the Turkish wars and the loss of her trade by the discovery of the Cape route. She ceased to be a great power, and was henceforth entirely concerned in the effort to preserve her remaining possessions and her very independence. The settlement of the peninsula by Charles V.'s coronation at Bologna in 1530 secured the preponderance to Spain, and the combination of Spain and the church dominated the politics of Italy. Dread of the Turks and dread of Spain were the two terrors which haunted Venice till the republic fell. That she retained her independence so long was due to a double accident: the impregnability of the lagoons and the jealousies of the great powers.

But the decline was a slow process. Venice still possessed considerable wealth and extensive possessions. Between 1499 and 1716 she went to war four times with the Turks, emerging from each campaign with some further loss of maritime territory. The fourth Turkish war (1570-1573) was signalized by the glorious victory of Lepanto (1571), due chiefly to the prowess of the Venetians under their doge Sebastian Venier. But her allies failed to support her. They reaped no fruits from the victory, and Cyprus was taken from her after the heroic defence of Famagusta by Bragadino, who was flayed alive, and his skin, stuffed with straw, borne in triumph to Constantinople. The fifth Turkish war (1645-1668) entailed the loss of Crete; and though Morosini reconquered the Morea for a brief space in 1685, that province was finally lost to Venice in 1716.

So far as European politics are concerned, the latter years of the republic are made memorable by one important event: the resistance which Venice, under the guidance of Fra Paolo Sarpi, offered to the growing claims of the Curia Romana, advanced by Pope Paul V. Venice was placed under interdict (1606), but she asserted the rights of temporal sovereigns with a courage which was successful and won for her the esteem and approval of most European sovereigns.

But the chief glory of her declining years was undoubtedly her splendid art. Giorgione, Titian, Sansovino, Tintoret, Paolo Veronese and Palladio all lived and worked after the disastrous wars of the league of Cambrai. The chief characteristic of Venice during these years is that she became the great pleasurecity of Europe. The end of the republic came when the French Revolution burst over Europe. Napoleon was determined to destroy the oligarchical government, and seized the pretext that Venice was hostile to him and a menace to his line of retreat while engaged in his Austrian campaign of 1797. The peace of Leoben left Venice without an ally. The government resolved to offer no resistance to the conqueror, and the doge Lodovico Manin abdicated on the 12th of May 1797. On the 17th of October Napoleon handed Venice over to Austria by the peace of Campo Formio, and between 1798 and 1814 she passed from France to Austria and Austria to France till the coalition of that latter year assigned her definitely to Austria. In 1848 a revolution broke out and a provisional republican government under Daniele Manin maintained itself for a brief space. In 1866 the defeat of Austria by the Prussians led to the incorporation of Venice in United Italy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-S. Romanin, Storia documentata di Venezia (Venice, 1853); P. Molmenti, La Storia di Venezia nella Vita privata (Bergamo, 1906; also English translation, London); P. Daru, Storia della Republica di Venezia, tr. from the French, Capolago, 1837 (this edition is recommended on account of the notes and additions); W. C. Hazlitt, The Venetian Republic (London, 1900); C. Yriarte, Venise (Paris, 1875); W. R. Thayer, A Short History of Venice (New York, 1905); H. F. Brown, Venice, an Historical Sketch of the Republic (London, 1895); H. Kretschmer, Geschichte von Venedig, Band I. (Gotha, 1905); A. GfrOrer, Geschichte Venedigs bis zum Jahr 1048 (Gratz, 1872); G. Filiasi, Memorie storiche de' Veneti primi e secundi (Venezia, 1796); F. G. Hodgson, The Early History of Venice (London, 1901); C. Hopf, Chroniques Greco-Romaines (Berlin, 1873); W. Heyd, Geschichte des Levantehandels im Mittelalter (Stuttgart, 1879); G. L. Tafel and G. M. Thomas, Urkunden zur dlteren Handelsand Staatsgeschichte der Republik Venedig (Vienna, 1856); V. Sandi, Storia civile della Republica di Venezia (Venice, 1755); C. A. Malin, Storia civile e politica del Commercio de' Veneziani (Venice, 1798); H. F. Brown, Studies in the History of Venice (London, 1907); M. Samedo, Diarii (Venice, 1879-1903). (H. F. B.)

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Proper noun



Venice (plural Venices)

  1. Province of Veneto, Italy.
  2. City and port in the province of Venice.
  3. The maritime empire of Venice.


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Simple English

Gondolas in Venice
File:Venezia acqua alta notte 2005
"Acqua alta" in San Marco
File:Canale grande s
"Canal Grande" from San Marco

Venice is a city in Italy. It is the capital of the Veneto region, which is in the north-east of the country. The population of Venice is 271,367. Area is 412km². Usually, the warmest month is July and the coolest month is January. The maximum average precipitation occurs in November.

Venice is built on 117 small islands that are separated by 150 canals. People cross the canals by many small bridges. They can also be taken for rides along the canals in a type of boat called a gondola.

The buildings in Venice are very old and attractive, and tourists come from all over the world to see them and the canals. This has made Venice one of the most famous cities in the world. The most famous sights are the Rialto Bridge, St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace.

Every year the city sinks a couple of centimeters because the ground is made from mud. Eventually the city will be completely underwater, but that will take years. Because of this the Italian government is building the "Moises", a state-of-the-art defense against the sea water floodings, that will safely protect Venice forever.

There are other ways to get around in Venice as well. The most common is the gondola, and also the vaporetto, which is a water bus and carries lots of people around the canals. There are also motoscafi, motonavi and traghetti (ferries). You can use a motorboat, catch a taxi, or walk.

There are problems with transit and sewage in Venice, but it is still the most popular tourist attraction in northeast Italy. It was once flooded .

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