It is called La Serenissima or "the most serene," a reference to the power, majesty, and wisdom of this city that was, for centuries, the unrivaled leader in trade between Europe and the Orient. "The most serene" also refers to the way in which those visiting have looked upon Venice, a miraculous city floating on its calm blue lagoon. Built entirely on water by men who dared defy the sea, Venice is like no other place in the world, more dreamlike than you could ever imagine. Shimmering sunlight and silvery mist soften every perspective here, making it easy to understand how the city became renowned in the Renaissance for its artists' rendering of color. It's a place full of secrets, inexpressibly romantic, and at times given over entirely to pleasure.
What you've heard is true: there really are no cars in Venice. You get around primarily on foot, but with occasional trips by boat on the famous canals that lace through the city.
The Grand Canal, Venice's incomparable main street, testifies to the genius and expertise of its builders and the desires of its nobility, who had their showcase palaces built one after another. Float past the imposing facade of Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, and the baroque cathedral of Santa Maria della Salute. Pass under the Rialto Bridge and as you catch sight of Palazzo Ducale you'll want to turn the boat around and do it all over again. Wait until nightfall, and sail across magic Venice under the moonlight.
A trip to Murano, home to Venice's glass-blowing industry, will introduce you to this centuries-old art by means of a well-arranged glass museum and the many free demonstrations that the smaller furnaces use to draw visitors to their showrooms.
What Mardi Gras is to New Orleans and Carnaval to Rio, Carnevale is to Venice. For the 12 days leading up to quaresima (Lent), the city is given over to feasting and celebration, with more than half a million people attending masquerade balls, historical processions, concerts, plays, street performances, fashion shows, and all other manner of revelry.
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