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Venezia "Venice"

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The undisputed capital of Veneto is its most glorified city. The city of Venezia (also known as Venice) is comprised of 117 islands, 150 canals, 400 bridges and a population of about 300,000 locals but can see well over 10,000,000 visitors in a single year. Located in the Laguna Veneta, Venezia is protected by a series of islands that separate itself from the Adriatic Sea.

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Venezia is accessed easier by train than by car. The highway N11 is the only road into the city where it stops on the very outskirts, and travelers have no choice but to take a very crowded "Traghetto" into the heart of the city. By train, Stazione Santa Lucia is right on the Canal Grande. In a city with no roads and no strategic layout, Venezia is a lot harder to maneuver than any of the other cities in Italy. It is separated into parts called sestieri: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Polo, and San Marco. There really is no route or main street to follow. The best thing to do in Venezia is take the traghetto to Venezia's main attraction, Piazza San Marco, and start from there. If you try to follow the Canal Grande you can see many of the sites Venezia has to offer.

Piazza San Marco

Dominated by the Campanile, Piazza San Marco has a series of cafés and shops, all creating an energetic atmosphere in front of the Basilica di San Marco. Next to the Basilica sits the Palazzo Ducale, home to the Doges of Venezia, it also doubled as the courthouse. The prison is connected to the courthouse by a single entrance, the famous bridge, the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).

Ponte Rialto

At this point you are on the left bank of the city. Along the left bank directly on the Canal Grande the sites to see (going in order towards the Piazzale Romare) are: Palazzo Grassi, Ca' d'Oro, Palazzo Labia, and Palazzo Vendarmin Calergi. At just about the midway point of the canal is the Ponte Rialto, Venezia's most famous bridge and marketplace. It is one of the few spots where you can cross the Canal by foot to the right bank. Along the right bank (going from Piazzale Roma back to San Marco) you'll find: Ca' Pesaro, Ca' Rezzonico and Ca' Dario.

Once you've followed the Canal Grande venturing into the back streets of Venezia can be a little tricky, (but don't be worried, it is more fun to get lost in Venezia than to actually know where you are going) be sure to have a map handy and there are plenty of signs to help you find your destination.

San Giorgio

If you are in Piazza San Marco you are on the left bank. Journeying into the back streets some of the sites to see in no particular order are: Torre dell'Orologio, San Francesco della Vigna, Scuola Grande di San Marco, San Giorgio, San Zaccaria, Santa Maria Formosa, Statue di Colleone, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, San Giovanni Crisostomo and way off in the distance Madonna del Orto (if you are in this area be sure to walk around the Ghetto quarter).

Santa Maria della Salute

If you cross over onto the right bank you'll find: San Giacomo dell'Orio, San Polo, Santa Maria dei Frari, San Rocco, San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, San Sebastiano, Museo dell'Accademia, the Guggenheim Collection and at the edge of the Canal Grande, Santa Maria della Salute.

Aside from the main city of Venezia, located in the northeast cluster of islands in the Laguna, are two of the more interesting places to see. About 45 minutes by ferry the islands of Murano and Burano sit far away from the commmtion of the main city.

Museo Vetario

Famous for its glass, Murano glassmakers originally worked in Venezia, until the early 1290's. But because of the ovens and furnaces and the danger they posed the industry was forced to move. The island of Murano, like Venezia, is a small cluster of islands connected by a series of bridges. Unlike Venezia; however there are few people and most of the locals are in the glass industry. The Museo Vetario "Glass Museum" shows the history of glass and the island. Murano was the chief producer of glass in all of Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Typical house in Burano

The smaller but more colorful island of Burano is a short ferry ride from Murano. Burano is famous for its lace; at one time it created the most well known lace in Europe. Today the lace has become scarce and hard to find. However if you walk the area you can still see some people making lace right on the streets. In the Scuola dei Merletti "Lace-Makers School" you can see where Burano women learn to make lace. There is also a museum attached to the school.

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