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What's it really like?

The lagoon city of Venice consists of scores of small islands linked by hundreds of bridges, many only large enough for pedestrians,  which create the most enchanting canal scenes.

St Mark's Square (San Marco) is the centre of the tourist activity and is home to the famous bell tower at the front of the Basilica di San Marco and the most imposing building in Venice -  the 15th century clock tower.

Unfortunately flooding is now common in the square creating ankle-deep lakes on the pavement. The authorities have responded by erecting temporary wooden pedestrian walkways (see above) when the sea water rises but these contraptions often cause 'people congestion' at busy times. Invest in some waterproof boots or wait for low tide to avoid the chaos.

The threat from periodic high water is growing due to climate change bringing heavier rain to the region.

Although most of what is worth seeing in Venice is walk-able within half an hour, no trip to the city would be complete without a ride on a gondola and despite quite a hefty fee, it is an absolute must for tourists to experience this iconic mode of transport.

Climate: Hot and humid in summer, chilly and wet in the winter.

Getting About: From the airport you will arrive usually in Venice by water taxi. To explore the city on the canals take the water buses. These vessels (Vaporetto) zigzag their way along the Grand Canal and stop at many of the main tourist sites. 

Shopping - There are scores of quaint little shops set in delightful streets and narrow passageways just off San Marco Square. A market just across the main Rialto Bridge sells souvenirs and T-shirts, etc.

Eating Out - Venice is teeming with tourist trattorias, pizzerias and restaurants in the streets off St Mark's Square and also alongside the Grand Canal. Many offer 'tourist specials' - a three course meal for a set price.

Grand Canal - this vast thoroughfare is the heart of Venice which snakes through the city for 2.5 miles ((4km). There are dozens of cafes and restaurants to sit and watch the world sail by. Pause on the famous Rialto Bridge for photos of the water traffic passing beneath.

San Maria della Salute - a domed church at the entrance to the Grand Canal across the water from Piazza San Marco. Erected in 1630 the outside of the building is much more impressive the interior.

Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) - The hub of Venice with the city's most famous tourist attractions including: the bell tower - the tallest building in Venice offering wonderful views of the city, Doges Palace which is home to ornate chambers and works of art, and Basilica di San Marco which houses tiny chapels and religious artifacts. Note: flooding in the square is common.

Art Galleries - Accademia - houses the finest collection of Venitician art in the world while the Guggenheim boasts works of art by Picasso and Braque among others.

Ca' Rezzonico - preserves an era when Venice was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Before this decorative building was made into a museum the poet Robert Browning died here. 

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