There is so much to see in historical Venice - on its six areas - therefore called Sestiere (six-parts). Historical Venice used to be the capital of the Venetian Republic - powerful and very rich state since 10th century that controlled a large part of the Venetian Lagoon and northern Italy and other adjacent islands in the Mediterranean sea until end of 17th century. It was an impressive maritime and commercial power, but also a home to arts. All that lead to a fairytale city where streets are replaced by water canals that mirror the architectural splendour of the mighty palaces, take you to theatres such as Opera La Fenice and other famous concert places. Time-turner trips happen when you rent a gondola and tour the narrow canals or when you climb up one of many towers in the town or when the fog or nights covers the cobbled streets. Churches and palaces are everywhere and footprints of famous people such as Marco Polo, Tizian or Tintoretto and Carlo Goldoni or Antonio Vivaldi to cite a few examples.
Sestiere spreads to about 8 square kilometres and has nowadays a population of about 60 thousand people, but almost three times as much live in the Venice-mainland.
Essence of Venice - admiring the gorgeous palaces and waterways from a gondola. Similar view, though in a greater speed and not in every small water street, may be provided by water busses.
Slightly unusual view towards Piazetta (small San Marco square decorated with columns) from San Giorgio Maggiore church on the opposite island.
Crossing the lagoon may be a challenge at times as the traffic gets very busy during the day. Boats of all sizes pass by at speed that all captains must really pay good attention to where they go.
Picturesque view over gondolas ready for the night with the gorgeous St. George the Greater island in the background (San Giorgio Maggiore). View from near San Marco.
Waiting for a gondola ride around the sunset may be very romantic in itself. Some details seem as if you went back in time.
Best way to get acquainted with all aspect of the life in Venice is to spend a day (or more) on water buses island hoping. Vaporetto (water bus) number one is showing the best of the Sestiere, including a right on the Canal Grande and may be a great idea how to rest your legs for a while.
Film and Art and Architecture festival held every two years (Biennal). There are 3 principal locations for Biennale - Park Giardini on the main island that houses national pavillons, Arsenale with a large exhibition of emerging art and then also pavillons rented in the town. Every odd year there is film festival and art festival, every even year there is architecture bienale.
First week of September each year several hundreds of rowing boats invade Canal Grande and Venetian laguna to compete. If you manage to visit Venice prior that time, you may find interesting examples of racing boats passing by when training.
The top of the dome of San Giorgio Maggiore offers a great view over the mouth of the Canal Grande, roofs of Sestiere and busy water traffic in the contrast with the lighthouse and anchored yachts.
When you have sore feet from chasing light and photos in Venice, the best way is to hop on the vaporetto nr .1 and tour on the Canal Grande and enjoy the palaces, water, sea breeze and splendid views.
Canal Grande is decorated, apart from the boats and splendid houses and palaces, also by anchoring columns of different colours (and same shape) - that can be another Venetian “trademark”.
Group of gondolieri waiting for customers in a sunset.
Carnival and Venice are very well known matching words. Carnival masks are sold whole year around and you may see antique pieces as well as the most modern one in several metres distance.
Less tourists but the same overwhelming beauty or mystery waits for you at night when watching Canal Grande from Ponte del Academia.
Stone and rose - sculpture and life - little details on embankment near San Marco square and there is many more to discover.
Famous Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) in Venice - the convicts used to walk here from the court and their sobbing could be heard outside too.
Another iconic picture of Italy - narrow streets whose height is covered by rods with washed clothers.
Canal Grande with Ponte del Academia in the background and gondola filled with tourists in the front.
This view is also Venice - climb the tower in the San Marco square and discover beauty of the Sestiere roofs for yourself.
Decorations on the pavement, pidgeons and outdoor caffées - geometry of the San Marco Square from above.
San Marco can be flooded at times - acqua alta - high water - comes several times a year at the higher tides. Then you need wellingtons (top-boots) to protect your feet, and a umbrella if it rains in addition.
Italian design - delight for eyes. Interior of an information centre for Biennale in 2007.
Quiet street, few tables outside, simple menu on a board - place to go! Small eatery not far from Marco Polo birthplace.
You do not need a car in Venice. Take a train from the airport or a shuttle boat and you arrive to the main hub for historical Venice - Ferrovia.
Acqua alta - high water - comes several times a year at the higher tides. Then the life in Venice may be a bit hindered, but locals know it will not last too long.
San Marco square is always busy.
Early autumn in Venice - changeable weather and high waters. But still very romantic!
Dramatic skies in the evening over Zattere in Venice.
Life in Venice is linked to a boat. You travel on water bus, date on gondola (occasionally), move on a boat, go to school in a boat.
Marble facade of the Doge Palace and sunlight play a very nice architectural game.
Venice in a sunset with gondolas in the front and church in the background.
Gondolas or narrow bridges are the only way to get to some canals.
San Marco basilica is beautiful.
Going home in a sunset in Venice in gondola. What can be more romantic?