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 Venice Guide
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Venice dazzles with its Baroque stage sets, Palladian churches and Gothic palaces. Venice seduces one. It's eclectic and secretive. It provokes passion and mystery. Once upon a time it was a proud and rich Republic known as La Serenissima, meaning the most serene. But like many great powers, Venice's glory was followed by a decline thus by the 18th century it was already a city dependent upon tourism.

Venice is made up of more than 100 tiny islets closely packed around canals. The city itself is essentially a lagoon, and as the water levels rise each year it reminds us the city is sinking. It's traditionally divided into six districts with the Grand Canal winding its way through its heart.

For those who enjoy, history, art and architecture, then this is the place for you. Venice is steeped in all three, found in galleries, museums, churches, and even on the islands around Venice. Piazza San Marco is the most famous sight with its pigeons and string quartets serenading the cafés. The centrepiece of the square is St Mark's Basilica rebuilt between 1063 and 1094 echoing eastern models with rare marbles and semi-precious stones adorning it. The Palazzo Ducale, with its historical background, is a magnificent showcase of Venetian art and craftsmanship. The Accademia has a wonderful collection of art by Canaletto, Titian, Tintoretto and many more.

Use the vaporetti, or waterbus, to admire the city from the canals (and of course you must not miss out on a ride in a gondola!), but Venice is best explored on foot armed with a guidebook. There are so many interesting places to see. Wander over the infamous Bridge of Signs and the Rialto. You'll not be the first if you get lost as every alley and bridge end up looking the same!

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