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Venezia, Province of Venezia, Veneto, Italy

Venice, the city of canals, the capital of the region of Veneto, stretches across numerous small islands in a lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy, between the mouths of the Po (to the south) and the Piave (to the north) Rivers.

The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a very important center of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance, and was the native place of Marco Polo, painters Titian (1477–1576) and Canaletto (1697-1768), musician Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).

Isola San Giorgio

The buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wood piles which penetrate alternating layers of clay and sand. The buildings are often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring. Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city.

Piazzetta San GiorgioDuring the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside. This sinking process has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the 1960s. However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods (so-called Acqua alta, "high water"). In many old houses the ground floor is unoccupied due to the periodic floods, but people continue to live and work in the upper stories.

Venice is also famous world-wide for its unique Carnival, and with its lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Info

Population: about 270,000 inhabitants in 2010 -- Zip/postal code: from 30121 to 30176 -- Phone Area Code: 041 -- Patron Saint: St. Mark the Evangelist celebrated on 25 April, and other 25 patrons

The 26 patrons

  • The main patron saints:
    » Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 25) in memory of Venice legendary founding date of 25 March 421.
    » St. Mark the Evangelist (April 25), his relics were transferred to Venice in 828, and to him the Basilica of San Marco is dedicated.
    » San Lorenzo Giustiniani (January 8), the first Patriarch of Venice.
  • The saints of ancient tradition or originating in the territory of Venice:
    » Saints Ermagora and Fortunato (July 12), related to Aquileia and the first evangelizers of the Tre Venezie, they listened to the preaching of St. Mark, Ermagora was consecrated bishop by St. Peter, their main church in Venice was San Marcuola, a contraction of their names.
    » San Magno Oderzo (5 October), is worshiped as the founder of eight ancient Venetian churches.
    » Pietro Orseolo (Jan 10), canonized in 1731 was considered the patron of the Doges.
    » St. Pius X (21 August), he was Patriarch of Venice and became pope.
    » Blessed Peter Acotanto (Aug 8), a Venetian monk of the twelfth century.
    » St. Theodore of Heraclea (Feb 8), he was a bishop in Thrace
  • Declared patron saints for intercession during epidemics and disasters:
    » San Rocco (16 Aug), a native of Montpellier, his main sanctuary is the church of the same name where his relics are.
    » Redentore (Redeemer - 3rd Sunday in July), to save the city from the terrible plague of 1575-1577, the population made a vow to build a church designed by Palladio.
    » Madonna della Salute (Nov. 21), venerated in the homonymous basilica of Dorsoduro, was widely invoked to free the city from the plague of 1625.
  • Declared patron saints for popular veneration:
    » St. Joseph (March 19 and May 1) , place of worship the Church of San Giuseppe di Castello.
    » San Filippo Neri (May 26), the patron saint of youth
    » St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4), founder of the Friars Minor who came to Venice, still today there is the Church of San Francesco della Vigna and also the island of San Francesco del Deserto
    » San Bernardino da Siena (May 20), the famous Franciscan preacher.
    » Santa Marina of Bithynia (July 17),
    » St. John of Nepomuk (May 16), whose devotion spread in the 18th century.
    » St. Anthony of Padua (June 13), the famous miracle-working saint, Franciscan preacher and theologian.
  • The saints venerated as patrons in wars:
    » Santa Giustina (Oct 7),
    » St. Mary Magdalene (July 22nd),
  • Declared patrons in 1787 by the Holy See:
    » St. Anne (July 26), mother of the Virgin Mary, had a church dedicated to her in Venice
    » St. Michael the Archangel (Sept 29), the leader of the heavenly army.

What to see

  • Piazza San MarcoSt Mark's Basilica , the most famous of the churches of Venice and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on St Mark's Square, adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace and has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice since 1807.

    Rialto Bridge

  • The Rialto Bridge, one of the architectural icons of Venice, the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal, and probably the most famous in the city, built in the 16th century in the place of the ancient 12th century Ponte della Moneta. The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was finally completed in 1591. Two inclined ramps lead up up to a central portico. On either side of the portico the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted future ruin.
  • Ponte dei SospiriThe Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) over the Rio di Palazzo, in white limestone with windows with stone bars on the summit of the enclosed bridge, connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. The bridge was built in the 16th century and only given the name Bridge of Sighs in the 19th century, by Lord Byron, from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice out the window before being taken down to their cells.
  • The Ca' d'OroThe beautiful palaces: Doge's Palace, Palazzo Grassi, Ca' d'Oro, Ca' Rezzonico
  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum
  • The Arsenal
  • La Fenice opera house
  • the Islands of Murano, renowned for its glass artists, and Burano, home of the Venetian lace.

Where to stay

Divisions of Venice

Administrative division

    Venice (islands of Venice) was traditionally divided into 6 quarters called "Sestieri": Cannaregio, Castello (including San Pietro and Santa Elena), Dorsoduro (including the island of Giudecca), San Marco, San Polo, Santa Croce.

    The comune of Venezia was divided until 1997 into 18 quarters, which were then partly merged into 13, and finally since 2005 has been divided into 6 "Municipalià":

  • Mun. 1: Venezia-Murano-Burano or "Venezia insulare", including the former quarters 1 San Marco - Castello - Sant'Elena; 2 Cannaregio, 3 Dorsoduro - S.Polo - S.Croce, 4 Giudecca - Sacca Fisola, 7 Murano and 8 Burano
  • Mun. 2: Lido-Pellestrina, or "Venezia litorale", including the former quarters of 5 Lido - Malamocco - Alberoni, 6 Pellestrina - San Pietro in Volta
  • Mun. 3: Favaro Veneto, including the former quarter 10 Favaro
  • Mun. 4: Mestre-Carpenedo, or "Mestre centro", including the former quarters 11 Carpenedo Bissuola, 15 Piave 1866, 13 San Lorenzo 25 aprile, 12 Terraglio
  • Mun. 5: Chirignago-Zelarino, or "Mestre ovest", including the former quarters 14 Cipressina - Zelarino - Trivignano and 16 Chirignago - Gazzera
  • Mun. 6: Marghera, including the former quarters 17 Marghera - Catene and 18 Malcontenta

History

The city was founded by refugees into the marshes of the Po estuary following the invasion of northern Italy by the Lombards in 568 AD. In the mid-8th century, the Venetians remained subject to the Byzantine Empire, and as Byzantine power waned, however, the city obtained autonomy and eventual independence. Venice was a city state (an Italian thalassocracy or Repubblica Marinara, the other three being Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi). Its strategic position at head of the Adriatic made Venetian naval and commercial power almost invulnerable.

The Republic of Venice seized the eastern shores of the Adriatic before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates were a menace to trade. The Doge already carried the titles Duke of Dalmatia and Duke of Istria. Later mainland possessions, which extended across Lake Garda as far west as the Adda River, were known as "Terrafirma", and were acquired partly to guarantee Alpine trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat, on which the city depended. In building its maritime commercial empire, the Republic acquired control of most of the islands in the Aegean, including Cyprus and Crete, and became a major broker in the Near East.

Venice became an imperial power following the Fourth Crusade, which (with Venetian aid) seized Constantinople in 1204 and established the Latin Empire. Considerable plunder was brought back to Venice, including the Winged Lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venice. Only Venetian ships could efficiently transport the men, supplies, and (especially) war horses.

Venice remained a republic throughout its independent period and politics and the military were kept completely separate. War was regarded as a continuation of commerce. The chief executive was the Doge (duke), who, theoretically, held his elective office for life. In practice, a number of Doges were forced by pressure from their oligarchical peers to resign the office and retire into monastic seclusion.

It was during the 18th century that Venice became perhaps the most elegant and refined city in Europe, greatly influencing art, architecture, and literature. Napoleon was seen as something of a liberator by the city's Jewish population. He removed the gates of the Ghetto and ended the restrictions on when and where Jews could live and travel in the city.

After 1070 years, the Republic lost its independence on May 12, 1797 to Napoleon Bonaparte, who delivered the city to the Austrian Kingdom with the Treaty of Campo Formio on October 12 1797. In 1866, along with the rest of Veneto, Venice became part of Italy. After 1797 the city had fallen into a serious decline, with many of the old palaces and other buildings abandoned and falling into disrepair, although the Lido became a popular beach resort in the late 19th century.

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