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Venice - Europe
Me2Desi Travel Information
Venice is a city in northern Italy, the capital of region Veneto, and has a population of 271,251 (census estimate January 1, 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light". It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city stretches across 118 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 62,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazione of Mestre and Marghera; and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon. The Venetian Republic was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain and spice trade) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century.

Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are connected by about 400 bridges. In the old center, the canals serve the function of roads, and every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railway station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Beyond these land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains, as it was in centuries past, entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest urban car free area, unique in Europe in remaining a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks. The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies. Most Venetians now travel by motorised waterbuses (vaporetti) which ply regular routes along the major canals and between the city's islands. The city also has many private boats. The only gondolas still in common use by Venetians are the traghetti, foot passenger ferries crossing the Grand Canal at certain points without bridges. Visitors can also take the watertaxis between areas of the city.

Azienda Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) is the name of the public transport system in Venice. It combines both land transportation, with buses, and canal travel, with water buses (vaporetti). In total, there are 25 routes which connect the city. Venice is served by the newly rebuilt Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast, however the water taxis or Alilaguna waterbus' to Venice are only a seven minute walk from the terminals. Some airlines market Treviso Airport in Treviso, 20km from Venice, as a Venice gateway. Some simply advertise flights to "Venice" without naming the actual airport except in the small print.

Venice is no place for cars, being built on the water. Cars can reach the car/bus terminal via the bridge (Ponte della Liberta) (SR11). It comes in from the West from Mestre. There are two parking lots which serve the city: Tronchetto and Piazzale Roma. Cars can be parked there 24hrs/7days a week for around 25 euros per day. From Tronchetto parking lot leaves a ferry to Lido. Tronchetto is served by vaporetti and buses of the public transportation. Currently, a people mover linking Tronchetto to Piazzale Roma is under construction. Expected time of opening is unknown. The sestieri are the primary traditional divisions of Venice. The city is divided into the six districts of Cannaregio, San Polo, Dorsoduro (including the Giudecca), Santa Croce, San Marco (including San Giorgio Maggiore), and Castello (including San Pietro di Castello and Sant'Elena). At the front of the Gondolas that work in the city there is a large piece of metal intended as a likeness of the Doge's hat. On this sit six notches pointing forwards and one pointing backwards. Each of these represent one of the Sestieri (the one which points backwards represents the Giudecca).
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