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Venice needs no introduction. Even people who have never been there have an image of the city: gondoliers in striped shirts on the canals, the Bridge of Sighs, the Piazza San Marco with the Basilica and Doge's Palace, and hundreds, no thousands, no tens of thousands of tourists. Those hordes of tourists do detract slightly from the grandeur of Venice, but of course they come to La Serenissima for a reason. You probably know them, the clichés: the most beautiful city on earth, the floating city, romantic, overwhelming. All of these clichés are true. And however much you have already seen of Venice on film or television, when you visit for the first time, your jaw will drop in awe at so much beauty.
If you do not want to walk amid thousands of tourists on St. Mark's Square, then visit Venice in the winter. The disadvantages is that it can be very cold, and often foggy. Near carnival is another busy period in the city, because the extravagant Carnival of Venice is world famous for its eccentric masks that are being carried during the parades combined with lavish costumes. April and May are good months to visit the city, with the exception of the busy Easter weekend. It's not so cold anymore, and the city is yet to be overrun by tourists.
For centuries, Venice was a powerful city-state that dominated the trade routes in the Adriatic Sea. The peak of that power and wealth was in the thirteenth century. It was at this time that rich families of the city poked each others eyes out by building palaces, which were decorated by the greatest artists. Venice went downhill from the fifteenth century onwards. At least, when it came to power. The artists of Venice continued to express themselves and their Renaissance style can be seen everywhere in the city in carvings, paintings and ceiling decorations. As early as in the eighteenth century Venice already was a popular tourist destination for the children of rich Europeans, who often made a Grand Tour through Europe before they had to get serious with the rest of their life. It was a time of great decadence that was abruptly terminated in 1797 by the invading forces of Napoleon.
We're not going to present you with a list of Venice's major attractions; they are known well enough. However, we do recommend - after viewing the calibrated monuments - to wander through the city. Don't worry about getting lost, Venice is not that big and it is exactly on a wander when you find nice places with little or no tourists. The north of the island Cannaregio and the east of Castello are primarily residential areas, where the 'real' Venetian life proceeds as usual.
The nightlife mainly happens around the world famous Rialto Bridge and in the student esque Dorsoduro. But here applies as well: in the quieter and less touristy neighborhoods of Venice you can find nice bars and restaurants too.
For a different Venice go to the island Sant'Erasmo. It is the largest island in the lagoon, but very sparsely populated. This is the countryside of Venice, an agricultural area where amongst others artichokes are cultivated. On the southwest tip of the island is a small trattoria where you can order simple meals. And wine is cheap here!
Located sixty kilometers west of Venice is Vicenza. Here lived and worked the architect Andrea Palladio and it shows. Throughout the city are palaces and villas of his hand. Like the name suggests he has also built the Basilica Palladiana. Palladio has greatly influenced the Renaissance architecture worldwide.
If you drive to Vicenza along the A4 highway you will pass Padua halfway. Another nice day trip destination from Venice. There are many attractions: the Basilica di Sant'Antonio, the frescoes in the Cappella degli Scrovegni, the Prato della Valle (one of the finest squares in Europe) with the Santa Giustina Basilica, and the first botanical gardens of the world.
For a relaxing day at the beach, drive along the A4 towards the northeast and take the exit San Doná di Piave. You will then arrive at the resort of Jesolo with beautiful beaches.
There is a huge range of hotels in Venice, but they are generally quite pricey. Alternatively, you can book a less expensive hotel on the mainland, but that doesn't have the same charm as staying overnight in the romantic Venice. If you particularly care about that then maybe a simple hotel on the island Sant'Erasmo could be interesting for you. Venice attracts tourists all year round. We therefore recommend you book your accommodation well in advance.
On the island of Tronchetto you can find a large parking lot. You reach it by taking a right immediately after the bridge to Venice (Ponte della Libertà). A so-called People Mover (an automatic, unmanned train) connects this parking lot to the Piazzale Roma. Near that Piazzale Roma are parking garages by the way, but they only have limited capacity. Especially during summer months all places tend to be occupied.
The airport Marco Polo is located twelve kilometers outside Venice along the SS14 towards Trieste. The route to the airport is well signposted on the road.
Treviso Airport is a small airport situated nearly thirty kilometers north of Venice, which is mainly used by budget airlines. The airport lies right next to the SS-515 between Treviso and Padova (Padua).