Visit Venice by Mouse
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Venice (Web site)(Wikitravel) (locator)is a city on a lagoon opening to the Adriatic Sea in the Northeast part of Italy, 338 miles north of Rome, 163 miles north of Florence, 171 miles east of Milan and 77 miles east of Verona. Like Rome, the city itself is a museum, with many beautiful medieval palaces lining many canals. It still looks like one of the paintings the artist Caneletto did of the city. A long, narrow causeway on its west connects it by car and train to the rest of Italy but autos and trucks entering the city must park at its terminus. Auto traffic in the city is not allowed. You get around mostly by walking or using boats serving as busses on established routes (vaporetti) and water taxis (gondolas and other traghetti).
The city is ancient. Its history includes huge swings between autocratic and democratic governments, rise and ebb of commercial and military power, and consequent periods of prosperity and decline. Its commercial success was due to its strategic location at the head of the Adriatic Sea, as a staging area for the Crusades and as the place to come in the Christian era to see relics of the saints, particularly those claimed to be St. Mark's, and to see the treasures brought back from Constantinople after the conquest of that city by the Lombards and the Venetians. Its military power was based primarily on seafaring and the system of recruiting and training an army and navy to protect its commercial shipping. Today it is a properous city thriving primarily on the many tourists who visit.
We stayed in a campground on the western side of the lagoon in Fusina, took a 20 minute ferry ride to the city and then took vaporetti and walked to see the sights. The only thing we did inside a building was a tour of the St. Mark Cathedral (Sacred Travel web site has a photo gallery.). The Cathedral is the repository of many reliquaries, and the four bronze horses taken from Constantinople. These are on display inside. The ones that adorn its front pediment are copies. Also taken from Constantinople is the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, that sits upon a column facing the lagoon.
We took a vaporetto to Lido on barrier island between Venice and the Adriatic. We wanted to see the namesake of Lido on Long Island near where we used to live. It is a very nice town with streets on which there are automobiles. It also has a public beach, just like the Long Island Lido. We found a nice little cafe and had a delicious pizza lunch before returning to Venice.
 
As our letter states we spent most of our time walking around a Caneletto painting, eating gelati, looking at the gondola traffic, the shop windows, and gawking at scenes made very familiar to us throught the many photos and films we have seen, and books and stories we have read about Venice. When we flagged in the warm afternoon we were in St.Mark's square.  A sidewalk cafe looked inviting so we sat down for a restorative coffee.  There was no need to ask for a menu.  We just wanted coffee.  It came and we sat there for quite a while sipping slowly and gazing at the St.Mark Cathedral.  Refreshed, we asked for the bill.  Just two coffees in very small cups.17 Euros.  That is about $23 in 2007 US dollars.  But, you know, on that day in that place, we did not feel cheated.  It was such a beautiful setting. It was very satisfying.  We could not have done better in any museum.
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