It's hard to know where to begin exploring, writes Barbara Radcliffe Rogers on Planetware. “Perhaps the best way is to simply get lost for a few hours wandering through its enchanting little streets and passageways, strolling beside its canals, and finding its secret corners.” Venice, she explains, is divided into six sestieri (“neighborhoods that have distinctly different characters”). “San Marco is the central one, surrounded on three sides by a great loop in the Grand Canal. Across Rialto Bridge is the artisans' neighborhood of San Polo, and across the Grand Canal to the south is stylish Dorsoduro, with its prestigious art museums and lively squares. At the outer edges are Santa Croce, Castello, and Cannaregio, home of the original Ghetto.” And beyond the six sestieri of the city “you'll want to hop aboard a vaporetto to its islands: Lido, Murano, Burano, and Torcello.” A fourth island, San Giorgio Maggiore, is “worth visiting for the beautiful views of San Marco and Venice from the tower of its church.”
A Venetian from the fifteenth century “miraculously translated into the twentieth” would have no difficulty in finding his way through today’s Venice, most of which has “survived virtually intact,” writes Venetian historian John Julian Norwich in his introduction to Venice: A Traveller’s Reader. Because Venice had been the richest metropolis in the world for hundreds of years, a city of incomparable beauty, recognised as one of the great treasures of the world by Unesco: “The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others.”
“Not content with conquering the known world with its naval fleets,” writes Lonely Planet, Venice became a stage, “attracting global audiences with its vivid painting, baroque music, modern opera, independent thinkers and parties.” One lasting legacy is “the unique style of Venetian architecture,” says Edwina Biucchi in Venice: An Architectural Guide. Known as Venetian Gothic, this hybrid style mixing eastern and western traditions, “for many visitors now encapsulates the image of Venice.”
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