Venice is a city in northeastern Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. It is located in the marshy Venetian Lagoon which stretches along the shoreline, between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. Venice is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. The city in its entirety is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon.
Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice’s comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000. in the historic city of Venice; 176,000 inTerraferma mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Paduaand Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), with a total population of 1,600,000. PATREVE is only a statistical metropolitan area without any degree of autonomy.
The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC The city historically was the capital of the Republic of Venice. Venice has been known as the “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”. Luigi Barzini described it in The New York Times as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”. Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe’s most romantic cities.
The Republic of Venice 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) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.
Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day (2007 estimate) In 2006, it was the world’s 28th most internationally visited city, with 2.927 million international arrivals that year It is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Tourism has been a major sector of Venetian industry since the 18th century, when it was a major center for theGrand Tour, with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage. In the 19th century, it became a fashionable centre for the rich and famous, often staying or dining at luxury establishments such as the Danieli Hotel and the Caffè Florian. It continued being a fashionable city in vogue right into the early 20th century. In the 1980s, the Carnival of Venice was revived and the city has become a major centre of international conferences and festivals, such as the prestigious Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival, which attract visitors from all over the world for their theatrical, cultural, cinematic, artistic, and musical productions
Today, there are numerous attractions in Venice, such as St Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the Piazza San Marco. The Lido di Venezia is also a popular international luxury destination, attracting thousands of actors, critics, celebrities, and mainly people in the cinematic industry. The city also relies heavily on the cruise business.
However, Venice’s popularity as a major worldwide tourist destination has caused several problems, including the fact that the city can be very overcrowded at some points of the year. It is regarded by some as a tourist trap, and by others as a “living museum”. Unlike most other places in Western Europe, and the world, Venice has become widely known for its element ofelegant decay. The competition for foreigners to buy homes in Venice has made prices rise so high that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy, the most notable being Mestre.
Venice, the world’s only pedestrian city, is easily walkable, and the absence of cars makes this a particularly pleasant experience. However, walking and standing all day can also be exhausting, so it is best to pace yourself. The Rialtine islands – the ‘main’ part of Venice – are small enough to walk from one end to the other in about an hour, provided you don’t get lost (a common occurrence).
If you want to get around a bit more quickly, there are numerous vaporetti (water buses) andwater taxis. The vaporetti are generally the best way to get around, even if the service route map changes frequently. If you are going to be in Venice for a few days visiting, it is a lot cheaper to use vaporetti than private water taxis. If you want to have a romantic ride along the canals, take a gondola ride, although they tend to exist for more scenic purposes, rather than getting people from point A to point B.
Thanks to the Vaporetto dell’Arte you can discover Venice and its magnificent treasures along the Grand Canal. It stops at the most charming attractions and museums in Venice and many services are available on board, such as a multilingual audio video system. You can bookVaporetto dell’Arte tickets online with different validity periods (from 12 hours up to 7 days) and they allow you to hop on and off according to your needs and interests over a period of time to visit museums, exhibitions and monuments listed in the information kit you receive on board.
ACTV  runs the vaporetti and other public transport services both in the lagoon and on terra firma. Travel cards are extremely useful since the basic fare for one vaporetto journey is typically €7.00. There are other versions available, including those offering discounts for youth under 29 year of age. Current rates can be found here: . The vaporetti uses an honesty system, meaning you are expected to validate your ticket at the stop before boarding, but there’s nobody making sure you do so (except at the busy Piazzale Roma stop), and checks on the crowded vaporetti are extremely rare.
Since 2009 the Venice Connected  website of the Comune di Venezia makes possible to book online (at least 7 days in advance) most services controlled by the town administration (public transportation, access to the civic museums, access to public restrooms, car park tickets, entrance to the Casinò and access to the municipal WiFi network covering the entire historic centre); the online prices vary according to the projected number of visitors but are always cheaper than the current on-site prices (and cheaper than with a Venice Card).
You can also get a Venice Card, which has various options that you can choose when you buy it (public transportation, cultural attractions, toilet access, Alilaguna, etc.) There is a ‘Junior’ version of the Venice that is available at a slightly reduced rate for those between 5 and 29 years of age. Note, however, that a Venice Card is not recommended for those with less than 3 days in Venice, as most of the top attractions are not included in the Venice Card. If you’ll be staying in Venice for a week – get the Venice Card and enjoy travelling from island to island and exploring the various museums and churches it offers access to.
Maps are available at the vaporetto stops in the ticket booths. The map is quite reliable, and is free when getting a Venice Card (€2 otherwise), or view the map here 
Venice Cards can be reserved on-line for a considerable discount here: . Keep in mind, though, that there are long lines when taking the Venice Card from the ticket booths. The Venezia St. Lucia ticket booth that offers Venice Cards is the one most on the right when you exit the train station.
Otherwise, take a walk! The city is not that big, and you can walk from one end to the other in a few hours (if you stick to the paths conveniently marked with arrows in the direction of major landmarks). But it would take months for a fit person to discover every path in the city. Along the way you will discover marvelous art, superb architecture and breathtaking urban landscaping. Exploring the city randomly by walking is well worth it but also be prepared to get lost easily! Signs all over the city indicate the direction to the main attractions, “Rialto” and “San Marco”, as well as the way back to the train station (“ferrovia”) and the bus terminal (“Piazzale Roma”). These signs make it easy to have the “get lost experience” even as a one-day tourist.
Be aware that addresses in Venice are of the form DISTRICT NUMBER (The Venetian word for district is “Sestriere”), not STREET NUMBER. To find a specific place using a map, make sure you know which district it is in. The numbers are assigned at the start of the district and increase as they move farther away from the Grand Canal.