Historical evidences suggest that refugees founded Venice. When Germanic tribes ravaged northern Italy in the 5th century, many mainlanders escaped to this difficult-to-access area on the Adriatic Sea.
Over the centuries the refugee community grew into the most powerful trading port in the Mediterranean. At its peak, Venice counted 3.000 trade ships and 300 navy vessels. After Napoleon's fall, it became part of the Austrian Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, but after the uprising in 1848, the city reached its independence once again. Shortly after, in 1866, Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. 1932 saw the opening of the motor and rail bridge between Venice and the mainland, which led this city to come out on top as a tourist destination.
It is hard to navigate around the city, but don’t let that put you off, as this is part of Venice’s charm. Leave the other tourists at St Mark’s square and the Rialto Bridge and explore the maze-like little neighbourhoods instead. The most interesting areas and islands are Cannaregio, SanPolo/Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello.
The Doge's Palace, locally known as the Palazzo Ducale, used to be the residence of the Doge of Venice, and also a space where the government could lodge. Both the court and the prison were located within the palace walls, but since 1923 the building is better known as a museum.
Saint Mark's Basilica
The Italian full name is Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco, but you'll be understood if you refer to it as Saint Mark’s Basilica. This cathedral church is the most famous in Venice, presenting five round-arched impressive portals as well as a striking marmoreal interior.
With a long list of cocktails, wines and beers, Cafè Noir is a lively and popular bar, especially so among students. You can accompany your beverage with sandwiches or piadina while sitting inside or outside, and get caught up in some lounge music. The simple wooden furniture and ceiling create a familiar and nostalgic atmosphere.
Good to know
The ACTV operates the ordinary buses together with the bus boats, the so-called vaporettos. Tickets can be purchased at the stations, from newsstands or on board the boats. There are also several travel cards to choose from, but remember that you need to swipe them before boarding.
If you need to cross the Grand Canal you can catch a traghetto, a large gondola leaving from different places between the bridges.
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