enice is one
of the rare
cities that is
metropolises to be called “the Venice
of ...” Really, though, this northeast-
ern Italian gem, surrounded by the
glittering Adriatic Sea, stands alone.
The city, which rose to prominence
as a trade gateway between the East
and West during the Middle Ages
and the Renaissance, boasts more
than 100 natural islands separated
by canals and connected by 400
bridges. Residents of the historic
center number fewer than 60,000,
but the city welcomes more than 20
million guests annually. It’s easy to see
the allure: Spend a day getting lost
in Venice’s winding streets and you’ll
find yourself believing that magic
awaits around every corner.
SIGHTS TO SEE
Step off a boat at Piazza San Marco,
and you’ll be greeted by the Basilica
di San Marco, the arches and domes
of which are some of the world’s
most recognizable. The visible
structure today is the third church
built on the site to honor Saint Mark.
Adjacent, you’ll find Palazzo Ducale,
the official residence of Venetian
rulers from the ninth century on.
The massive Gothic building became
a museum in 1923, and guests can
explore its grand halls, chambers
and apartments filled with Venetian
artifacts. From there, hop aboard a Vaporetto
No. 1 and let the waterbus take you in a loop
around the curving Grand Canal, lined with
the historic palaces built by Venetian aristocrats.
From the water, you’ll see the Rialto Bridge, lined
with tiny shops. Completed in 1591, it’s the oldest
bridge spanning the Grand Canal and marks the
heart of the city. Art buffs will want to stop at the
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in the one-story
18th-century Palazzo Venier, which houses 200
modern paintings and sculptures, including an
Italy’s majestic floating city has charm to spare.
BY JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN V