With hundreds of bridges spanning hundreds of canals, grand squares and, most amazingly, almost no cars, Venice is truly like nowhere else on earth.
Built on over 100 small islands, the city is home to living history in its ancient architecture as well as a huge collection of art.
Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance are the principal reference points for the artistic development of Venice. The Basilica of San Marco is a masterpiece of Romanesque-Byzantine style, the centre of Venetian life throughout the centuries, while the 16th-century Rialto Bridge is a splendid example of the Renaissance style. And, throughout the city, the testimonies of great Venetian masters are revealed in paintings from the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries.
Stroll from the arched Rialto Bridge, a monument to the rivo alto (high bank) where many Venetians first settled, to the Piazza San Marco, the magnificent open square with its toy town 15th-century clock tower, the long arcades of the procuratie (government buildings of the Republic), and vast open pavements. Here, enjoy a coffee or an apertivo at Florian, Quadri, or any of the stylish cafés that spill out from under the arcades and soak up the surrounding beauty. It has often been noted that Venetians are enamoured of the surface of things, so it's hardly surprising that Venice can seem like a preposterous stage set, a city almost too good to be true.