Venezia, La Serenissima, Queen of the Adriatic, city of canals and palaces...or tawdry sewer alive with crowds and charlatans? Venice's nature is dual: water and land, long history and doubtful future, airy delicacy and dim melancholy. If this precious place does sink, the world will be the poorer.
For a thousand years the city was one of the most enduring mercantile sea powers on the face of the earth. Today the brilliance and influence have long since faded, leaving a town of tarnished glories, out of time and out of place, so achingly beautiful it's hard not to look for the back of the set.
8 May 2002 - Venice, ItalyVenice, whilst famous for its canals and being a once great maritime republic, the secret to seeing and discovering the real Venice is not along the water but by on foot. Many areas are empty of tourists even in high season and you can become lost in the narrow winding streets deep in thought.
Of course, you will be unable and unwilling to avoid the Grand Canal (and the hordes of day trippers); you will probably want to take the 'water bus'; but exploration on foot is the best way to see the sights of this fine city.
Venice - The Grand Canal
Once described as 'the finest street in the world', the Grand Canal is a little dilapidated now by all accounts but still cuts an impression to rival any of the world's great boulevards. 3.5km long 6m deep and a width ranging from 40m to 100m, an incredible parade of buildings including more than 100 palazzi dating from the 12th to 18th century line it. The water bus or Vaporetto is the only way to see them.
Venice - St Marks Square
This photo is taken from St Mark's Campanile, the bell tower of St Mark's Basilica. The Piazza which this road leads to originated in the 9th century as a small area in front of the original St Mark's Basilica. It was enlarged to its present size and shape in 1177, when the Rio Batario, which had bounded it to the west, and a dock, which had isolated the Doge's (ruler) Palace from the square, were filled in. The Piazza has always been seen as the centre of Venice.