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Venice is the capital of the Veneto region in north-eastern Italy. The city is, of course, world famous and lies on 118 small islands between which are a network of canals and bridges. The city lies in the Venetian Lagoon and is connected to the mainland by a causeway along which runs a road and railway line. Within the Commune of Venezia, approximately 60,000 people live in the historic city itself, 176,000 on the mainland and 31,000 on other islands in the lagoon. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is part of a metropolitan area (known as PATREVE) which has a population of 2.6 million. Venice is renowned all over the world for its art, architecture, and incomparable setting. Venice and its Lagoon form a UNESCO a World Heritage Site and the city attracts about 50,000 tourists per day, on average. The city was founded in the 5th century when Venetian populations found refuge from raiding barbarians on the sandy islands of Torcello, Jesolo and Malamocco. Settlements on these islands subsequently became permanent and through time grew; by the 10th century here had developed a major maritime power. The city, over the years, has formed a unique cultural masterpiece with buildings containing works by some of the world's most renowned artists.

On this webpage, below are some of my photos taken from three visits (in no particular chronological order) which are accompanied by short descriptive text. I then conclude with a brief synopsis of the aforementioned visits.

Above: Approaching the historical centre of Venice by boat. approach by boat. In the centre is the famous St Mark's Campanile (Bell Tower). Left of it is the Biblioteca Marciana (National Library of St Mark's) and to the right is the Doge's Palace (1340).

Below: The Rialto Bridge (1591) and views from it. It is the most famous and one of four bridges now spanning the city's Grand Canal. It is the oldest bridge and connected the districts of San Marco and San Polo. The other three bridges today crossing the Grand Canal are Ponte degli Scalzi (barefoot bridge), Ponte dell'Accademia and in more recent times, Ponte di Calatrava (2008). Note: a temporary pontoon crossing is put in place during the annual Festa della Salute. [Here, as in several places in the city, the Venetian artist Canaletto popped into my head. His works on an external page Here.]

Below: The Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), Bridge of Sighs and a view from the palace. The Doge's Palace was built in Venetian Gothic style, and is one of the main sights for visitors to the city. Established in 1340, it was the residence of the Doge of Venice (the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice). It opened as a museum in 1923 and inside, it is possible to see the courtyard, Doge's apartments, various institutional chambers and the prisons (there are old and new ones). The Bridge of Sighs contains enclosed corridors and was originally built in 1614 to link the Doge’s Palace to the new prisons. The name refers to the sighs of sentenced prisoners being taken to their cells as they took one last look outside through the bridge's small windows.

Below: Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). This is amongst the most famous squares in the world and is the main public square of the city. Adjacent to "The Piazza", as it is simply known, is The Piazzetta (Little Piazza), an extension of it towards the lagoon. These two spaces form the religious, social and political centres of the city. On and around the sides of this public space are to be found many points of interest including The Campanile (Bell Tower), the Biblioteca Marciana, the Molo (quayside on the lagoon), the Zecca (mint), the Doge's Palace and last but not least, St Mark's Basilica. On occasions, St Mark's Square is shown in the news for it is prone to flooding. For further information on the Piazza, external link Here.

Below: The Clock Tower is an early renaissance building on the north side of St Mark's Square. The tower and the clock date from the late 15th century.

Below: The West facade of St Mark's Basilica, the most famous of the city's churches. It was built in the Italo-Byzantine style and consecrated 1084-1117.

Below: St Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace seen from the Piazza partially obscured due to erection of temporary paraphernalia associated with the world renowned Venice Film Festival (see my write up towards the end of the page).

Below: The unmistakeable St Mark's Campanile - The Basilica's bell tower. The current tower was inaugurated on April 25, 1912, built as a reinforced replica of one previously completed in 1549, but collapsed in 1902.

Below: Another view of the Grand Canal, this time from Ponte dell' Accademia looking towards Santa Maria della Salute, a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica which was consecrated in 1681.

Below: A view towards Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, a 16th-century Benedictine church on an island of the same name.

Below: The Riva Degli Schiavoni. This is a busy waterfront promenade which begins outside the Doges Palace and ends near the Arsenale. It is lined with various historic buildings of note, hotels, restaurants, cafes, stalls selling snacks and tourist orientated vendors. It is also a place to alight/disembark various water buses and taxis. This photo is taken near Arsenale, looking back towards St Mark's Campanile; The church of Santa Maria della Pietà (1760) caan be seen as a prominent white columned building in the centre.

Some notes from my visits:

Venice, to me is a city you can love or loathe and although I have been there three times, I feel I have still only scratched the surface of this historical and cultural labyrinth. The first visit was simple enough with a comfortable hotel stay in Mestre, the centre and the most populated urban area of the mainland part of Venice. Mestre is ideal for those not on an expensive budget and has cheap and frequent train and bus connections across the causeway to the historical centre of Venice. The second visit to the city included an unscheduled stop there. Arriving at the main Venezia Santa Lucia railway station on an overnight train from Vienna, the plan was to spend the day there and get another overnight train somewhere else. Alas, on arrival, there were no available overnight trains to book for that day - anywhere, but there would be one the day after to Marseille. And so, a night in Venice was required, which came in the form of staying in a Youth Hostel (a renovated 19th Century grain warehouse) on the shore of the island of Giudecca. This Youth Hostel is conveniently located only a few stops on the water bus (vaporetto) from St. Mark’s square, and commands probably one of the best views of the city, particularly when considering the low price for a bed. After taking a vaporetto there, checking in/dumping the backpack and then taking a vaporetto back to the main tourist area, it was time to explore the historical city. One problem arose in the evening though, when it became apparent that we had been exploring too much and became lost. Major issues arose with limited time to catch the last vaporetto back to the Youth Hostel on the island of Giudecca, not having the money to pay for a water taxi and continually finding it impossible to locate a narrow street that intersects with one of access points to one of the few and infrequent bridges that crosses the Grand Canal. There was hardly anybody around in this area and assistance came in the form of a woman whom looked like a local heading into 'town' whom, unbeknown to her, we followed. Fortunately, our intuition came to fruition when she led us to walking over the Ponte dell' Accademia back towards St Mark's Square and just in time to catch the last vaporetto. This whole episode was still firmly in my mind over ten years later when I visited Venice for a third time; on this occasion, I visited for a long day out from Slovenia. My transport arrangements meant getting back to a boat on the southern side of St Mark's Square for a particular time. I planned where I wanted to go, did not get lost and made good time to get back to where I needed to be. Or so I thought. Another problem arose this time. Whilst I had been exploring the city, on the square they had been busy erecting lighting rigs, stages and seating for the famous Venice Film festival. On returning there, it was sealed off and I was on the wrong side of it! A sort of panic arose with finding a route around to get where I needed to be amongst the resulting crowds of people in an area far busier than the average day. I did manage to get my transfer, just. Of course, there is much, much, more to see and do in Venice than is featured above, but that is beyond the scope of this webpage and so some further detailed reading is included below.

Below: Probably one of the best city views from a youth hostel in the world!

Suggested Further Reading:

● Standalone guidebooks to Venice are published by pretty much all of the mainstream travel guide publishers.

● Blue Guide Venice by Alta Macadam, Blue Guides (2007)

● Venice by Jan Morris, Faber & Faber (1993)

● Venice by Peter Ackroyd, Vintage (2010)

● A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich, Penguin (2012)

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