What images come to mind when you think of a trip to Venice? No doubt you imagine yourself taking a romantic gondola ride along narrow canals and under delicate bridges. Perhaps you picture the beautiful old buildings and famous works of art that have made the city one of Europe's leading tourist spots.
Venice was built on more than 100 islands and has about 150 canals. The best-known of these, the Grand Canal, functions as the“main street”in the part of the city most popular with visitors. The canal winds through each of the six districts that comprise this historic city center before reaching Venice Lagoon.
One of these districts, San Marco, is home to many of Venice's main attractions, including St. Mark's Basilica. This spectacular church has five main arches and some extraordinary onion-shaped domes. It is decorated with priceless treasures, many of which were stolen from other countries when medieval Venice was a leading sea power.
St. Mark's Basilica stands at one end of St. Mark's Square. Napoleon called the square the“finest drawing room in Europe.”Tourists have been going there for centuries to visit its celebrated caféand get a taste of the party atmosphere.
The best time to visit Venice is during the clear spring days of March and April. From June to August, the city is hot, sticky, and crowded with tourists. Autumn is quite pleasant, but winters are cold. Floods are common in November and December, presenting Venetians with one of their most difficult and ongoing problems.
It is well-known that Venice faces an uncertain future. The city is sinkingsintosthe sea, its historic buildings are falling to pieces, and the famous lagoon is badly polluted. Unless solutions are found soon for these complex problems, the“Queen of the Adriatic,”as Venice is sometimes called, will not be able to sit on her watery throne for very much longer.