Venice is a city in northeast 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 World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon. However, the main place in Venice is San Marco.
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 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) (population 1,600,000).
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.
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 2.5 °C (36.5 °F), and for July this figure is 22.7 °C (72.9 °F). Precipitation is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, and averages 801 millimetres (31.5 in).
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. 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 highly that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy, the most notable being Mestre.
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 were built during the twentieth century.
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 a nautical culture to flourish, 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.
Azienda Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) is the name of the public transport system in Venice. It combines land transportation, with buses, and canal travel, with water buses (vaporetti). In total, there are 25 routes that connect the city.
The main public transportation means are motorised waterbuses (vaporetti), which ply regular routes along the Grand Canal and between the city's islands.
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.
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. The St. Lucia station is a few steps away from a vaporetti stop. The station is the terminus and starting point of the Venice Simplon Orient Express from or to London Victoria and Paris.
The maritime portion of Venice has no roads as such, being composed almost entirely of narrow footpaths, and laid out across islands connected by staired stone footbridges, making transportation impossible by almost anything with wheels. Cars can reach the car/bus terminal via the Ponte della Libertà bridge that comes in from the northwest from Mestre.
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 several 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.
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.
Music and the performing arts
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."
Venetian or the regional form Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in Venice, but also the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia, Istria, and some towns of Dalmatia, an area of six to seven million people. The language enjoyed substantial prestige in the days of the Venetian Republic, when it attained the status of a lingua franca in the Mediterranean.
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.