Venice (English /ˈvɛnɪs/; Italian: Venezia [veˈnɛttsia] ( ) alternative obsolete form: Vinegia; Venetian: Venexia [veˈnɛsja]; Latin: Venetiae; Slovene: Benetke) is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice's comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni (roughly equivalent to "parishes" or "wards" in other countries) of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), with a total population of 1,600,000. PATREVE is only a statistical metropolitan area without any degree of autonomy.
The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city historically was the capital of the Republic of Venice. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini described it in The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.
The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.
Although there are no historical records that deal directly with the founding of Venice, tradition and the available evidence have led several historians to agree that the original population of Venice consisted of refugees from Roman cities near Venice such as Padua, Aquileia, Treviso, Altino and Concordia (modern Portogruaro) and from the undefended countryside, who were fleeing successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasions. Some late Roman sources reveal the existence of fishermen on the islands in the original marshy lagoons. They were referred to as incolae lacunae ("lagoon dwellers"). The traditional founding is identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto (Rivoalto, "High Shore"), which is said to have been at the stroke of noon on 25 March 421.
Beginning in 166–168, the Quadi and Marcomanni destroyed the main center in the area, the current Oderzo. The Roman defences were again overthrown in the early 5th century by the Visigoths and, some 50 years later, by the Huns led by Attila. The last and most enduring immigration into the north of the Italian peninsula was that of the Lombards in 568, leaving the Eastern Roman Empire a small strip of coast in the current Veneto, including Venice. The Roman/Byzantine territory was organized as the Exarchate of Ravenna, administered from that ancient port and overseen by a viceroy (the Exarch) appointed by the Emperor in Constantinople, but Ravenna and Venice were connected only by sea routes and with the Venetians' isolated position came increasing autonomy. New ports were built, including those at Malamocco and Torcello in the Venetian lagoon. The tribuni maiores, the earliest central standing governing committee of the islands in the Lagoon, dated from c. 568.
The traditional first doge of Venice, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, was actually Exarch Paul, and his successor, Marcello Tegalliano, Paul's magister militum (General; literally, "Master of Soldiers.") In 726 the soldiers and citizens of the Exarchate rose in a rebellion over the iconoclastic controversy at the urging of Pope Gregory II. The Exarch was murdered and many officials put to flight in the chaos. At about this time, the people of the lagoon elected their own leader for the first time, although the relationship of this ascent to the uprisings is not clear. Ursus would become the first of 117 "doges" (doge is the Venetian dialect development of the Latin dux ("leader"); the corresponding word in English is duke, in standard Italian duce.) Whatever his original views, Ursus supported Emperor Leo's successful military expedition to recover Ravenna, sending both men and ships. In recognition, Venice was "granted numerous privileges and concessions" and Ursus, who had personally taken the field, was confirmed by Leo as dux and given the added title of hypatus (Greek for "Consul".)
In 751, the Lombard King Aistulf conquered most of the Exarchate of Ravenna, leaving Venice a lonely and increasingly autonomous Byzantine outpost. During this period, the seat of the local Byzantine governor (the "duke/dux", later "doge"), was situated in Malamocco. Settlement on the islands in the lagoon probably increased in correspondence with the Lombard conquest of other Byzantine territories as refugees sought asylum in the lagoon city. In 775/776, the episcopal seat of Olivolo (Helipolis) was created. During the reign of duke Agnello Particiaco (811–827), the ducal seat was moved from Malamocco to the highly protected Rialto, the current location of Venice. The monastery of St. Zachary and the first ducal palace and basilica of St. Mark, as well as a walled defense (civitatis murus) between Olivolo and Rialto, were subsequently built here. Winged lions, which may be seen throughout Venice, are a symbol for St. Mark.
Charlemagne sought to subdue the city to his own rule. He ordered the Pope to expel the Venetians from the Pentapolis along the Adriatic coast, and Charlemagne's own son Pepin of Italy, king of the Lombards under the authority of his father, embarked on a siege of Venice itself. This, however, proved a costly failure. The siege lasted six months, with Pepin's army ravaged by the diseases of the local swamps and eventually forced to withdraw. A few months later, Pepin himself died, apparently as a result of a disease contracted there. In the aftermath, an agreement between Charlemagne and Nicephorus in 814 recognized Venice as Byzantine territory and granted the city trading rights along the Adriatic coast.
In 828, the new city's prestige was raised by the acquisition of the claimed relics of St. Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria, which were placed in the new basilica. The patriarchal seat was also moved to Rialto. As the community continued to develop and as Byzantine power waned, it led to the growth of autonomy and eventual independence.
From the 9th to the 12th century, Venice developed into a city state (an Italian thalassocracy or Repubblica Marinara, the other three being Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi). Its strategic position at the head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable. With the elimination of pirates along the Dalmatian coast, the city became a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the world (especially the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world).
The Republic of Venice seized a number of places on the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade. The Doge already carried the titles of Duke of Dalmatia and Duke of Istria. Later mainland possessions, which extended across Lake Garda as far west as the Adda River, were known as the "Terraferma", and were acquired partly as a buffer against belligerent neighbours, partly to guarantee Alpine trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat, on which the city depended. In building its maritime commercial empire, the Republic dominated the trade in salt, acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete, and became a major power-broker in the Near East. By the standards of the time, Venice's stewardship of its mainland territories was relatively enlightened and the citizens of such towns as Bergamo, Brescia and Verona rallied to the defence of Venetian sovereignty when it was threatened by invaders.
Venice remained closely associated with Constantinople, being twice granted trading privileges in the Eastern Roman Empire, through the so-called Golden Bulls or 'chrysobulls' in return for aiding the Eastern Empire to resist Norman and Turkish incursions. In the first chrysobull, Venice acknowledged its homage to the Empire but not in the second, reflecting the decline of Byzantium and the rise of Venice's power.
Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade, which, having veered off course, culminated in 1204 by capturing and sacking Constantinople and establishing the Latin Empire. As a result of this conquest, considerable Byzantine plunder was brought back to Venice. This plunder included the gilt bronze horses from the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which were originally placed above the entrance to St Mark's cathedral in Venice, although the originals have been replaced with replicas and are now stored within the basilica. Following the fall of Constantinople, the former Roman Empire was partitioned among the Latin crusaders and the Venetians. Venice subsequently carved out a sphere of influence in the Mediterranean known as the Duchy of the Archipelago, and captured Crete.
The seizure of Constantinople would ultimately prove as decisive a factor in ending the Byzantine Empire as the loss of the Anatolian themes after Manzikert. Although the Byzantines recovered control of the ravaged city a half century later, the Byzantine Empire was terminally weakened, and existed as a ghost of its old self until Sultan Mehmet The Conqueror took the city in 1453.
Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Venice always traded extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world. By the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce. During this time, Venice's leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and support the work of the greatest and most talented artists. The city was governed by the Great Council, which was made up of members of the noble families of Venice. The Great Council appointed all public officials and elected a Senate of 200 to 300 individuals. Since this group was too large for efficient administration, a Council of Ten (also called the Ducal Council or the Signoria), controlled much of the administration of the city. One member of the great council was elected "Doge", or duke, the ceremonial head of the city, who normally held the title until his death.
The Venetian governmental structure was similar in some ways to the republican system of ancient Rome, with an elected chief executive (the Doge), a senate-like assembly of nobles, and a mass of citizens with limited political power, who originally had the power to grant or withhold their approval of each newly elected Doge. Church and various private properties were tied to military service, although there was no knight tenure within the city itself. The Cavalieri di San Marco was the only order of chivalry ever instituted in Venice, and no citizen could accept or join a foreign order without the government's consent. Venice remained a republic throughout its independent period, and politics and the military were kept separate, except when on occasion the Doge personally headed the military. War was regarded as a continuation of commerce by other means (hence, the city's early production of large numbers of mercenaries for service elsewhere, and later its reliance on foreign mercenaries when the ruling class was preoccupied with commerce).
The chief executive was the Doge, who theoretically held his elective office for life. In practice, several Doges were forced by pressure from their oligarchical peers to resign the office and retire into monastic seclusion when they were felt to have been discredited by perceived political failure.
Although the people of Venice generally remained orthodox Roman Catholics, the state of Venice was notable for its freedom from religious fanaticism and it enacted not a single execution for religious heresy during the Counter-Reformation. This apparent lack of zeal contributed to Venice's frequent conflicts with the Papacy. In this context, the writings of the Anglican Divine, William Bedell, are particularly illuminating. Venice was threatened with the interdict on a number of occasions and twice suffered its imposition. The second, most famous, occasion was in 1606, by order of Pope Paul V.
Venetian ambassadors sent home still-extant secret reports of the politics and rumours of European courts, providing fascinating information to modern historians.
The newly invented German printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe in the 15th century, and Venice was quick to adopt it. By 1482, Venice was the printing capital of the world, and the leading printer was Aldus Manutius, who invented the concept of paperback books that could be carried in a saddlebag. His Aldine Editions included translations of nearly all the known Greek manuscripts of the era.
Venice's long decline started in the 15th century, when it first made an unsuccessful attempt to hold Thessalonica against the Ottomans (1423–1430). It also sent ships to help defend Constantinople against the besieging Turks (1453). After Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II, he declared war on Venice. The war lasted thirty years and cost Venice much of its eastern Mediterranean possessions. Next, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Then Portugal found a sea route to India, destroying Venice's land route monopoly. France, England and the Dutch Republic followed them. Venice's oared galleys were at a disadvantage when it came to traversing the great oceans, and therefore Venice was left behind in the race for colonies.
The Black Death devastated Venice in 1348 and once again between 1575 and 1577. In three years, the plague killed some 50,000 people. In 1630, the plague killed a third of Venice's 150,000 citizens. Venice began to lose its position as a center of international trade during the later part of the Renaissance as Portugal became Europe's principal intermediary in the trade with the East, striking at the very foundation of Venice's great wealth; while France and Spain fought for hegemony over Italy in the Italian Wars, marginalising its political influence. However, the Venetian empire was a major exporter of agricultural products and, until the mid-18th century, a significant manufacturing center.
The Republic lost independence when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice on 12 May 1797 during the First Coalition. The French conqueror brought to an end the most fascinating century of its history: during the 18th century, Venice became perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture and literature. Napoleon was seen as something of a liberator by the city's Jewish population, although it can be argued they had lived with fewer restrictions in Venice. He removed the gates of the Ghetto and ended the restrictions on when and where Jews could live and travel in the city.
Venice became Austrian territory when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio on 12 October 1797. The Austrians took control of the city on 18 January 1798. It was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, but was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, when it became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. In 1848–1849, a revolt briefly reestablished the Venetian Republic under Daniele Manin. In 1866, following the Third Italian War of Independence, Venice, along with the rest of the Veneto, became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy.
During the Second World War, the historic city was largely free from attack, the only aggressive effort of note being Operation Bowler, a successful Royal Air Force precision strike on the German naval operations there in March 1945. The targets were destroyed with virtually no architectural damage done to the city itself. However the industrial areas in Mestre and Marghera and the railway lines to Padua, Trieste and Trento were repeatedly bombed. On 29 April 1945, New Zealand troops under Freyberg of the Eighth army reached Venice and relieved the city and the mainland, which were already in partisan hands.
Subsidence, the gradual lowering of the surface of Venice, leads to the seasonal phenomena of Acqua alta where much of the city's surface is covered in high water.
The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wooden piles. Most of these piles are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations rest on the piles, and buildings of brick or stone sit above these footings. The piles penetrate a softer layer of sand and mud until they reach a much harder layer of compressed clay.
Submerged by water, in oxygen-poor conditions, wood does not decay as rapidly as on the surface.
Most of these piles were made from trunks of alder trees, a wood noted for its water resistance. The alder came from the westernmost part of today's Slovenia (resulting in the barren land of the Kras region), in two regions of Croatia, Lika and Gorski kotar (resulting in the barren slopes of Velebit) and south of Montenegro. Leonid Grigoriev has stated that Russian larch was imported to build some of Venice's foundations. Larch is also used in the production of Venice turpentine.
The city is often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring. Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. This created an ever-deeper lagoon environment.
In 1604, to defray the cost of flood relief, Venice introduced what could be considered the first example of a 'stamp tax'. When the revenue fell short of expectations in 1608, Venice introduced paper with the superscription 'AQ' and imprinted instructions, which was to be used for 'letters to officials'. At first, this was to be a temporary tax, but it remained in effect until the fall of the Republic in 1797. Shortly after the introduction of the tax, Spain produced similar paper for general taxation purposes, and the practice spread to other countries.
During the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside. It was realised that extraction of water from the aquifer was the cause. The sinking has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the 1960s. However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods (called Acqua alta, "high water") that creep to a height of several centimetres over its quays, regularly following certain tides. In many old houses, the former staircases used to unload goods are now flooded, rendering the former ground floor uninhabitable.
Some sources state that the city is no longer sinking, but this is not yet certain; therefore, a state of alert has not been revoked. In May 2003, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inaugurated the MOSE project (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), an experimental model for evaluating the performance of hollow floatable gates; the idea is to fix a series of 78 hollow pontoons to the sea bed across the three entrances to the lagoon. When tides are predicted to rise above 110 centimetres, the pontoons will be filled with air, causing them to float and block the incoming water from the Adriatic Sea. This engineering work is due to be completed by 2016.
The historical city is divided into six areas or "sestiere" (while the whole comune (municipality) is divided into 6 boroughs of which one is composed of all 6 sestiere). These are Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro (including the Giudecca and Isola Sacca Fisola), Santa Croce, San Marco (including San Giorgio Maggiore) and Castello (including San Pietro di Castello and Sant'Elena). Each sestiere was administered by a procurator and his staff. Nowadays each sestiere is a statistic and historical area without any degree of autonomy.
These districts consist of parishes – initially seventy in 1033, but reduced under Napoleon and now numbering just thirty-eight. These parishes predate the sestieri, which were created in about 1170.
Other islands of the Venetian Lagoon do not form part of any of the sestieri, having historically enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy.
Each sestiere has its own house numbering system. Each house has a unique number in the district, from one to several thousand, generally numbered from one corner of the area to another, but not usually in a readily understandable manner.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Venice has a Humid subtropical climate (Cfa), with cool winters and very warm summers. The 24-hour average in January is 3.3 °C (37.9 °F), and for July this figure is 23.0 °C (73.4 °F). Precipitation is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, and averages 748 millimetres (29.4 in).
The legislative body of the municipality is the City Council (Consiglio Comunale), which is composed of 45 councillors elected every five years with a proportional system, contextually to the mayoral elections. The executive body is the City Committee (Giunta Comunale), composed by 12 assessors, that is nominated and presieded over by a directly elected Mayor. The current mayor of Venice is Giorgio Orsoni, a left-wing lawyer leading a progressive alliance composed of the Democrats, Left Ecology Freedom, the Greens and Federation of the Left.
The municipality of Venice is subdivided into six administrative Boroughs (Municipalità). Each Borough is governed by a Council (Consiglio) and a President, elected contextually to the city Mayor. The urban organization is governed by the Italian Constitution (art. 114). The Boroughs have the power to advise the Mayor with nonbinding opinions on a large spectrum of topics (environment, construction, public health, local markets) and exercise the functions delegated to them by the City Council; in addition they are supplied with an autonomous founding in order to finance local activities. The Boroughs are:
Venezia (historic city)-Murano–Burano (also known as Venezia insulare); population: 69,136;
Lido–Pellestrina (also known as Venezia litorale); population: 21,664.
Mainland (terraferma), annexed with a Royal Decree, in 1926, to the commune of Venezia:
Favaro Veneto; population: 23,615;
Mestre-Carpenedo (also known as Mestre centro); population: 88,952;
Chirignago-Zelarino; population: 38;179;
Marghera; population: 28;466.
Of six Boroughs, five are governed by Democratic Party and one by the opposition.
Venice's economy has changed throughout history. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Venice was a major centre for commerce and trade, as it controlled a vast sea-empire, and became an extremely wealthy European city, a leader in political and economic affairs and a centre for trade and commerce. From the 11th century until the 15th century, pilgrimages to the Holy Land were offered in Venice. Other ports such as Genoa, Pisa, Marseille, Ancona and Dubrovnik were hardly able to make any competition to the well organized transportation of pilgrims from Venice. This all changed by the 17th century, when Venice's trade empire was taken over by other countries such as Portugal, and its naval importance was reduced. In the 18th century, then, it became a major agricultural and industrial exporter. The 18th century's biggest industrial complex was the Venice Arsenal, and the Italian Army still uses it today (even though some space has been used for major theatrical and cultural productions, and beautiful spaces for art). Today, Venice's economy is mainly based on tourism, shipbuilding (mainly done in the neighbouring cities of Mestre and Porto Marghera), services, trade and industrial exports. Murano glass production in Murano and lace production in Burano are also highly important to the economy.
Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day (2007 estimate). In 2006, it was the world's 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year. It is regarded as one of the world's most beautiful cities.
Tourism has been a major sector of Venetian industry since the 18th century, when it was a major center for the Grand Tour, with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage. In the 19th century, it became a fashionable centre for the rich and famous, often staying or dining at luxury establishments such as the Danieli Hotel and the Caffè Florian. It continued being a fashionable city in vogue right into the early 20th century. In the 1980s, the Carnival of Venice was revived and the city has become a major centre of international conferences and festivals, such as the prestigious Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival, which attract visitors from all over the world for their theatrical, cultural, cinematic, artistic, and musical productions
Today, there are numerous attractions in Venice, such as St Mark's Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Piazza San Marco. The Lido di Venezia is also a popular international luxury destination, attracting thousands of actors, critics, celebrities, and mainly people in the cinematic industry. The city also relies heavily on the cruise business.
However, Venice's popularity as a major worldwide tourist destination has caused several problems, including the fact that the city can be very overcrowded at some points of the year. It is regarded by some as a tourist trap, and by others as a "living museum". Unlike most other places in Western Europe, and the world, Venice has become widely known for its element of elegant decay. The competition for foreigners to buy homes in Venice has made prices rise so high that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy, the most notable being Mestre.
In the historical city
Venice is built on an archipelago of 117 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon, connected by 409 bridges. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century, a causeway to the mainland brought the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station to Venice, and the Ponte della Libertà road causeway and parking facilities (in Tronchetto island and in piazzale Roma) were built during the 20th century. Beyond the road and rail land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains (as it was in centuries past) entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest urban car-free area. Venice is unique in Europe, in having remained a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.
The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, (plural: gondole) although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies, or as 'traghetti' (sing.: traghetto) to cross the Canale Grande in the absence of a nearby bridge. Many gondolas are lushly appointed with crushed velvet seats and Persian rugs. Less well-known is the smaller sandolo. At the front of each gondola that works in the city, there is a large piece of metal called the 'ferro,' or iron. Its shape has evolved through the centuries, as documented in many well-known paintings. Its form, topped by a likeness of the Doge's hat, became gradually standardized, and was then fixed by local law. It consists of six bars pointing forward representing the Sestieri of the city, and one that points backward representing the Giudecca).
Venezia is a city of small islands, enhanced during the Middle Ages by the dredging of soils to raise the marshy ground above the tides. The resulting canals encouraged the flourishing of a nautical culture which proved central to the economy of the city. Today those canals still provide the means for transport of goods and people within the city.
The maze of canals threaded through the city requires the use of more than 400 bridges to permit the flow of foot traffic. In 2011, the city opened Ponte della Costituzione, the fourth bridge across the Grand Canal, connecting the Piazzale Roma bus terminal area with the Stazione Ferroviaria (train station), the others being the original Ponte di Rialto, the Ponte dell'Accademia, and the Ponte degli Scalzi.
Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) is a public company responsible for public transportation in Venice.
The main public transportation means are motorised waterbuses (vaporetti) which ply regular routes along the Grand Canal and between the city's islands. The only gondole still in common use by Venetians are the traghetti, foot passenger ferries crossing the Grand Canal at certain points without bridges.
The Venice People Mover (managed by ASM) is a cable-operated public transit system connecting Tronchetto island with Piazzale Roma. Water taxis are also active.
Lido and Pellestrina islands
Lido and Pellestrina are two islands forming a barrier between the southern Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. In those islands, road traffic is allowed. There are bus services on islands and waterbus services linking islands with others islands (Venice, Murano, Burano) and with the peninsula of Cavallino-Treporti.
The mainland of Venice is composed of 5 boroughs: Mestre-Carpenedo, Marghera, Chirignago-Zelarino and Favaro Veneto. Mestre is the center and the most populated urban area of the mainland of Venice. There are several bus routes and one tramway line. Several bus routes link mainland with piazzale Roma, the main bus station in Venice, via Ponte della Libertà, a road bridge connecting the historical center of the city of Venice, that is a group of islands, to the mainland.
Venice is serviced by regional and national trains which can connect the city to Rome in 3.5 hours and to Milan in 2.5 hours. Treviso is thirty-five minutes away. Florence and Padua are two of the stops between Rome and Venice. There are two main stations:
The St. Lucia station is a few steps away from a vaporetti stop in the historical city next to piazzale Roma; it is a terminal station; the station is the terminus and starting point of the Venice Simplon Orient Express from or to London Victoria and Paris;
The Mestre station is in the mainland and it forms the border between the boroughs of Mestre and Marghera.
Both stations are managed by Grandi Stazioni, and are linked with each other by the Ponte della Libertà (English: Liberty Bridge) between the mainland and the island.
Others small stations in the municipality are: Venezia Porto Marghera, Venezia Carpenedo, Venezia Mestre Ospedale, Venezia Mestre Porta Ovest.
Venice is served by the Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast. From the Venice airport, it's possible to reach by public transport:
Venice Piazzale Roma by ATVO (provincial company) buses and by ACTV (city company) buses (route 5 aerobus);
Venice, Lido and Murano by Alilaguna (private company) boats;
Mestre, the mainland and Venice Mestre railways station (convenient for connections to Milan, Padova, Trieste, Verona and the rest of Italy) by ACTV lines (route 15 and 45) and by ATVO lines;
regional destination (Treviso, Padua, beach, ...) by ATVO buses and by Busitalia Sita Nord buses (national company).
Some airlines market Treviso Airport in Treviso, 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Venice, as a Venice gateway. Some simply advertise flights to "Venice", while naming the actual airport only in small print. To reach Venice from Treviso airport people can catch a public bus from the company ATVO.
Venezia Lido, a public airport suitable for smaller aircraft, is found on the NE end of Lido di Venezia. It has a 1000-metre grass runway.
The main football club in the city is FBC Unione Venezia, founded in 1907, who currently plays in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione. Their ground, the Stadio Pierluigi Penzo situated in Sant'Elena, is one of the oldest venues in Italy.
The local basketball team, Reyer Venezia Mestre, plays in the first national league, the Lega Basket Serie A.
Venice is a major international centre for higher education. The city hosts Ca' Foscari University of Venice founded in 1868; Iuav University of Venice founded in 1926; and Venice International University, an international research center founded in 1995 and located on the island of San Servolo.
The city were one of the largest in Europe in the high middle ages with an population of 60,000 in 1000 AD. 80,000 in 1200 and rising up to 110,000 – 180,000 in 1300 AD. In the mid 1500s the city had an population of 170,000, and by 1600 almost 200,000 people lived in Venice
In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice's comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland); and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon), of whom 47.4% were male and 52.6% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 14.36 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 25.7 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Venice residents is 46 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Venice declined by 0.2 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.85 percent. But the population in the historic old city declined at a significantly faster rate: from about 120,000 in 1980 to about 60,000 in 2009.
As of 2009, 91% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group comes from other European nations: (Romanians, the largest group: 3%, South Asia: 1.3%, and East Asia: 0.9%). Venice is predominantly Roman Catholic, but because of the long-standing relationship with Constantinople, there is also a perceptible Orthodox presence, and as a result of immigration, it now has some Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist inhabitants.
There is also a historic Jewish Community in Venice. The Venetian Ghetto was the area in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. It is from its name, in the Venetian language, that the word "ghetto", used in many languages, is derived. William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice, probably written in the late 16th century, features Shylock, a Venetian Jew and his family. First complete, and uncensored edition of Talmud was printed in Venice by Daniel Bomberg in 1523. Venice also has an eruv, built for and still used by the Jewish community.
Cinema and Venice in popular culture and media
Venice has been the setting or chosen location of numerous films, novels, poems and other cultural references. The city was a particularly popular setting for novels, essays, and other works of fictional or non-fictional literature. Examples of these include Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and Othello, Ben Jonson's Volpone, Voltaire's Candide, Casanova's autobiographical History of My Life, Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven, and Philippe Sollers' Watteau in Venice. Thomas Mann's 1912 novella, Death in Venice, has served as the basis for an opera (Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice), a film (Visconti's Death in Venice) and a cocktail (Death in Venice). The city has also been a setting for numerous other films, including three entries in the James Bond series: From Russia with Love, Moonraker and Casino Royale, and many others such as: 2010's The Tourist, Summertime starring Katharine Hepburn, Fellini's Casanova, Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, The Wings of the Dove, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A Little Romance, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Talented Mr. Ripley. The city has also been the setting for music videos such as Siouxsie and the Banshees' Dear Prudence and Madonna's Like a Virgin, as well as in the video games Tomb Raider II and Assassin's Creed II.
Venice has a rich and diverse architectural style, the most famous of which is the Gothic style. Venetian Gothic architecture is a term given to a Venetian building style combining use of the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Ottoman influences. The style originated in 14th-century Venice, where the confluence of Byzantine style from Constantinople met Arab influence from Moorish Spain. Chief examples of the style are the Doge's Palace and the Ca' d'Oro in the city. The city also has several Renaissance and Baroque buildings, including the Ca' Pesaro and the Ca' Rezzonico.
The city of Venice in Italy has played an important role in the development of the music of Italy. The Venetian state – i.e., the medieval Maritime Republic of Venice – was often popularly called the "Republic of Music", and an anonymous Frenchman of the 17th century is said to have remarked that "In every home, someone is playing a musical instrument or singing. There is music everywhere."
During the 16th century, Venice became one of the most important musical centers of Europe, marked by a characteristic style of composition (the Venetian school) and the development of the Venetian polychoral style under composers such as Adrian Willaert, who worked at St Mark's Basilica. Venice was the early center of music printing; Ottaviano Petrucci began publishing music almost as soon as this technology was available, and his publishing enterprise helped to attract composers from all over Europe, especially from France and Flanders. By the end of the century, Venice was famous for the splendor of its music, as exemplified in the "colossal style" of Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, which used multiple choruses and instrumental groups. Venice was also the home of many famous composers during the baroque period, such as Antonio Vivaldi, Ippolito Ciera, Giovanni Picchi, and Girolamo Dalla Casa, to name but a few.
It can be argued that Venice produced the best and most refined Rococo designs. At the time, Venice was in a state of trouble. It had lost most of its maritime power, was lagging behind its rivals in political importance, and society had become decadent, with nobles wasting their money in gambling and partying. But Venice remained Italy's fashion capital, and was a serious contender to Paris in terms of wealth, architecture, luxury, taste, sophistication, trade, decoration, style, and design. Venetian Rococo was well known for being rich and luxurious, with usually very extravagant designs. Unique Venetian furniture, such as the divani da portego, or long Rococo couches and pozzetti, objects meant to be placed against the wall. Venetian bedrooms were usually sumptuous and grand, with rich damask, velvet, and silk drapery and curtains, a beautifully carved Rococo beds with statues of putti, flowers and angels. Venice was especially famous for its beautiful girandole mirrors, which remained among, if not, the finest in Europe. Chandeliers were usually very colourful, using Murano glass to make them look more vibrant and stand out from others, and precious stones and materials from abroad were used, since Venice still held a vast trade empire. Lacquer was very common, and many items of furniture were covered with it, the most famous being lacca povera (poor lacuqer), in which allegories and images of social life were painted. Lacquerwork and Chinoiserie were particularly common in bureau cabinets.
Fashion and shopping
In the 14th century, many young Venetian men began wearing tight-fitting multicoloured hose, the designs on which indicated the Compagnie della Calza ("Trouser Club") to which they belonged. The Venetian Senate passed sumptuary laws, but these merely resulted in changes in fashion in order to circumvent the law. Dull garments were worn over colourful ones, which then were cut to show the hidden colours resulting in the wide spread of men's "slashed" fashions in the 15th century.
Today, Venice is also a major fashion and shopping centre in Italy, not as important as Milan, Florence, or Rome, but par to Turin, Vicenza, Naples, and Genoa. Roberta di Camerino is the only major Italian fashion brand to be based in Venice. Founded in 1945, it is renowned for its innovative handbags featuring hardware by Venetian artisans and often covered in locally woven velvet, and has been credited with creating the concept of the easily recognisable status bag. Many of the fashion boutiques and jewelry shops in the city are located in the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco. At the current time, there are Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna flagship stores operating in the city.
Venetian cuisine is characterized by seafood, but also includes garden products from the islands of the lagoon, rice from the mainland, game, and polenta. Venice combines local traditions with influences that are distant from millennial business contacts. These include sarde in saor, sardines marinated in order to preserve them for long voyages; risi e bisi, rice, peas and ham; fegato alla veneziana, Venetian-style liver; risotto with cuttlefish, blackened from the ink; cicchetti, refined and delicious tidbits (akin to tapas); antipasti, appetizers; and prosecco, an effervescent, mildly sweet wine.
In addition, Venice is famous for bisàto (marinated eel), for the golden, oval-shaped cookies called baicoli, and for different types of sweets such as: pan del pescatore (bread of the fisherman); cookies with almonds and pistachio nuts; cookies with fried Venetian cream or the bussolai (butter biscuits and shortbread made in the shape of an "S" or ring) from the island of Burano; the crostoli also known as the chatter, lies, or galani; the fregolotta (a crumbly cake with almonds); milk pudding called rosada; and cookies of yellow semolina called zaléti.
Venice has long been a source of inspiration for authors, poets and playwrights as well as being at the forefront of the technical developing of printing and publishing.
Two of the most famous Venetian writers were Marco Polo in the Middle Ages and later Giacomo Casanova. Polo (1254–1324) was a merchant who voyaged to the Orient. His series of books, co-written by Rustichello da Pisa, titled Il Milione provided important knowledge of the lands east of Europe, from the Middle East, to China, Japan and Russia. Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) was a prolific writer and famous adventurer best remembered for his autobiography, Histoire De Ma Vie (Story of My Life), which links his colourful lifestyle to the city of Venice.
Venetian playwrights followed the old Italian theatre tradition of Commedia dell'arte. Ruzante (1502–1542) and Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793) used the Venetian dialect extensively in their comedies.
Venice has also inspired writers from abroad. Shakespeare set Othello and The Merchant of Venice in the city. Thomas Mann wrote the novel Death in Venice, published in 1912. Venice inspired the poetry of Ezra Pound, who wrote his first literary work in the city. Pound died in 1972 and his remains are buried in Venice's cemetery island of San Michele. The French writer Philippe Sollers spent most of his life in Venice and published A Dictionary For Lovers Of Venice in 2004. Ugo Foscolo (1778–1827) born in Zante, an island that at the time belonged to the Republic of Venice, was also a famous poet and revolutionary who wanted to see a free republic established in Venice following the fall to Napoleon. The city features prominently in Henry James' The Aspern Papers and The Wings of the Dove and is also visited in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. The probably most famous children's book set in Venice is "The Thief Lord", written by the German Author Cornelia Funke.
Venice is also linked to the technological aspects of writing. The city was the location for one of Italy's earliest printing presses, established by Aldus Manutius (1449–1515). From this beginning Venice developed as an important typographic center and even as late as the 18th century was responsible for printing half of Italy's published books.
Art and printing
Venice, especially during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, was a major centre of art and developed a unique style known as the Venetian School. In the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance, Venice, along with Florence and Rome, became one of the most important centres of art in Europe, and numerous wealthy Venetians became patrons of the arts. Venice at the time was a rich and prosperous Maritime Republic, which controlled a vast sea and trade empire.
By the end of the 15th century, Venice had become the European capital of printing, being one of the first cities in Italy (after Subiaco and Rome) to have a printing press after those established in Germany, having 417 printers by 1500. The most important printing office was the Aldine Press of Aldus Manutius, which in 1499 printed the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, considered the most beautiful book of the Renaissance, and established modern punctuation, the page format and italic type, and the first printed work of Aristotle.
In the 16th century, Venetian painting was developed through influences from the Paduan School and Antonello da Messina, who introduced the oil painting technique of the van Eyck brothers. It is signified by a warm colour scale and a picturesque use of colour. Early masters were the Bellini and Vivarini families, followed by Giorgione and Titian, then Tintoretto and Veronese. In the early 16th century, also, there was rivalry between whether Venetian painting should use disegno or colorito.
Canvases (the common painting surface) originated in Venice during the early Renaissance. These early canvases were generally rough.
In the 18th century, Venetian painting had a revival because of Tiepolo's decorative painting and Canaletto's and Guardi's panoramic views.
Venice is famous for its ornate glass-work, known as Venetian glass. It is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skilfully made.
Many of the important characteristics of these objects had been developed by the 13th century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano.
Byzantine craftsmen played an important role in the development of Venetian glass, an art form for which the city is well-known. When Constantinople was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, some fleeing artisans came to Venice. This happened again when the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, supplying Venice with still more glassworkers. By the 16th century, Venetian artisans had gained even greater control over the color and transparency of their glass, and had mastered a variety of decorative techniques.
Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries of Europe.
Some of the most important brands of glass in the world today are still produced in the historical glass factories on Murano. They are: Venini, Barovier & Toso, Pauly, Millevetri, Seguso. Barovier & Toso is considered one of the 100 oldest companies in the world, formed in 1295.
One of the most renowned types of Venetian glasses are made in Murano, known as Murano glass, which has been a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano for centuries. Located off the shore of Venice, Italy, Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century it had become a well-known city of trade. Today Murano remains a destination for tourists and art and jewellery lovers alike.
The Carnival of Venice is held annually in the city, starting around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday. The carnival is closely associated with Venetian masks.
The Venice Biennale is one of the most important events in the arts calendar. During 1893 headed by the mayor of Venice, Riccardo Selvatico, the Venetian City Council passed a resolution on 19 April to set up an Esposizione biennale artistica nazionale (biennial exhibition of Italian art), to be inaugurated on 22 April 1895. Following the outbreak of hostilities during the Second World War, the activities of the Biennale were interrupted in September 1942, but resumed in 1948.
The Festa del Redentore is held in mid July. It began as a feast to give thanks for the end of the terrible plague of 1576. A bridge of barges is built connecting Giudecca to the rest of Venice, and fireworks play an important role.
The Venice Film Festival (Italian Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia) is the oldest film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. It is one of the world's most prestigious film festivals and is part of the Venice Biennale.
Foreign words of Venetian origin
Words with a Venetian etymology include arsenal, ciao, ghetto, gondola, imbroglio, lagoon, lazaret, lido, Montenegro, quarantine, regatta. The name of Venezuela is a Spanish diminutive of Venice. Many other places around the world are named after Venice, e.g. Venice Beach.
For people from Venice, see People from Venice. Others closely associated with the city include:
Enrico Dandolo (c. 1107, 1205), Doge of Venice from 1192 to his death. He played a direct role in the Sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.
Marco Polo (c. 1254 – 8 January 1324), trader and explorer, one of the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China. While a prisoner in Genoa, he dictated in the tale of his travels known as Il Milione (The Travels of Marco Polo).
Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516), a Renaissance painter, probably the best known of the Bellini family of painters.
Aldus Manutius (1449–1515), one of the most important printers in history.
Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – 18 January 1547), cardinal and scholar.
Lorenzo Lotto (c.1480 – Loreto, 1556), painter, draughtsman, and illustrator, traditionally placed in the Venetian school.
Sebastian Cabot (c. 1484–1557, or soon after), explorer.
Pellegrino Ernetti, Catholic priest and exorcist
Titian (c. 1488–90 – 27 August 1576), leader of the 16th-century Venetian school of the Italian Renaissance (he was born in Pieve di Cadore).
Sebastiano Venier, (c. 1496 – 3 March 1578), Doge of Venice from 11 June 1577 to 1578.
Andrea Gabrieli (c.1510–1586), Italian composer and organist at St Mark's Basilica
Tintoretto (1518 – 31 May 1594), probably the last great painter of Italian Renaissance.
Veronica Franco (1546–1591), poet and courtesan during the Renaissance
Giovanni Gabrieli (between 1554 and 1557–1612), composer and organist at St Mark's Basilica
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), composer and director of music at San Marco
Leon Modena (1571–1648) preacher, author, poet, active in the Venetian ghetto and beyond
Marco Antonio Bragadin (d.1571), general, flayed alive by the Turks after a fierce resistance during the siege of Famagusta
Baldassare Longhena (1598 – 18 February 1682), one of the greatest exponents of Baroque architecture.
Francesco Cavalli (14 February 1602 – 14 January 1676), a baroque composer
Pietro Cesare Alberti (1608–1655), considered the first Italian-American, arriving in New Amsterdam in 1635.
Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (5 June 1646 – 26 July 1684), the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate degree.
Tomaso Albinoni (8 June 1671 – 17 January 1751), a baroque composer
Rosalba Carriera (7 October 1675 – 15 April 1757), known for her pastel works.
Antonio Vivaldi (4 March 1678, 28 July (or 27), 1741, Vienna), famous composer and violinist of the Baroque Era
Pietro Guarneri (14 April 1695 – 7 April 1762) left Cremona in 1718, settled in Venice. "Peter of Venice" from the family of great luthiers.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (5 March 1696 – 27 March 1770), the last "Grand Manner" fresco painter from the Venetian Republic.
Canaletto (28 October 1697 – 19 April 1768), famous for his landscapes or vedute of Venice, but not only.
Carlo Goldoni (25 February 1707 – 6 February 1793). Along with Pirandello, Goldoni is probably the most famous name in Italian theatre, in his country and abroad.
Carlo Gozzi (13 December 1720 – 4 April 1806), an excellent dramatist of the 18th century.
Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798 in Dux, Bohemia, (now Duchcov, Czech Republic)), a famous Venetian adventurer, writer and womanizer.
Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749–1838), opera librettist and poet. He wrote the librettos for 28 operas by 11 composers, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Elisabetta Caminèr Turra (1751–1796), writer
Frederick Rolfe (22 July 1860 – 25 October 1913), English author of the Venetian novel The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole.
Virgilio Ranzato (7 May 1883 – 20 April 1937), Composer.
Carlo Scarpa (2 June 1906 – 1978, Sendai, Japan), an architect with a profound understanding of materials.
Emilio Vedova (9 August 1919 – 25 October 2006), one of the most important modern painters of Italy
Bruno Maderna (21 April 1920 – 13 November 1973), an Italian-German orchestra director and 20th-century music composer.
Luigi Nono (29 January 1924 – 8 May 1990), a leading composer of instrumental and electronic music.
Romano Scarpa (27 September 1927, Venice – 23 April 2005, Málaga), was one of the most famous Italian creators of Disney comics.
Ludovico de Luigi (November 1933), Venetian Surrealistic artist.
Giuseppe Sinopoli (2 November 1946 – 20 April 2001), conductor and composer.
Francesco Borgato (5 September 1990, Venice), is an Italian recording artist and dancer.
The City of Venice and the Central Association of Cities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) established, in January 2000, in pursuance of the EC Regulations n. 2137/85, the European Economic Interest Grouping (E.E.I.G.) Marco Polo System to promote and realise European projects within transnational cultural and tourist field, particularly referred to the artistic and architectural heritage preservation and safeguard.
Twin towns and sister cities
Venice is twinned with:
In 2013, Venice ended the sister city relationship with St. Petersburg in opposition to laws Russia had passed against homosexuals and those who support gay rights.
Venice has cooperation agreements with the Greek city of Thessaloniki, the German city of Nuremberg, signed on 25 September 1999, and the Turkish city of Istanbul, signed on 4 March 1993, within the framework of the 1991 Istanbul Declaration. It is also a Science and Technology Partnership City with Qingdao, China.
The name is connected with the people known as the Veneti, perhaps the same as the Eneti (Ενετοί). The meaning of the word is uncertain. Connections with the Latin verb venire (to come) or venia are fanciful. A connection with the Latin word venetus, meaning 'sea-blue', is possible.
Outline of Italy
List of architecture monuments of Venice
List of painters and architects of Venice
Jewish Community of Venice
Su e zo per i ponti
Veneti and Venetic language (the ancient spoken language of the region)
Venetian language (the modern spoken vernacular of the region)
Venezia Mestre Rugby FC – rugby team
List of places called Venice of the East
Venice of the North
Venipedia.org-an English wiki dedicated to Venice
Official Site of the City of Venice
Venice European Capital of Culture 2019
Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia (Italian/English)
Venice Waterways, Canals and Bridges; Video tour
Best Travel Video – Visions of Venice HD 2013
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