The historical centre of Venice is made up of six districts (sestiere): Cannaregio, Dorsoduro, Castello, Santa Croce, San Polo and San Marco.
Divided in two by the Grand Canal, the districts of Cannaregio, Castello and San Marco occupy the northern part of the historical centre of Venice, while to the south of the Grand Canal we find the Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro districts. The Dorsoduro district also incorporates the Island of Guidecca Each of the six sestiere has its own unique character and specific attractions.
Venice itself was built upon a series of islands, sand-banks and land reclaimed from the lagoon. Any sign of those original islands has long since been lost as the city continued to grow and develop as a sea of stone swept over her origins.
But, not far from the historical centre of Venice , a string of Islands are waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller. Each one has its own particular attraction:
There are two main means of transportation in Venice, pedestrian and waterborne. Waterborne transport consists of water taxis and waterbuses, or “vaporetto”.
There is a British diplomatic presence in Venice, and should you need assistance while in Italy, consular staff are on hand there to help travellers if they have a problem in the country.
Italian is the official language. Dialects are spoken in different regions. German and Latin are spoken in the South Tyrol region, and French is spoken in all the border areas. German is spoken around the Austrian border. English, German and French are also spoken in tourism and business circles around Venice.
Venice is located in North-East Italy, Venice is built on 117 small islands and has some 150 canals and 409 bridges (only three of which cross the Grand Canal).
Venice is home to a multitude of museums and art galleries with many that are open to the public. In addition to these permanent exhibitions, there are numerous special exhibitions taking place throughout Venice during the calendar year. Attractions include a visit to ”The Piazza San Marco’, including the Basilica and Museo Correr, a cruise down the Grand Canal to spot the important landmark palaces on the way, including the Palazzo Ducale (Doges Palace), as well as the Bridge of Sighs, are definitely worth visiting. The Accademia Gallery with its extensive collection of Venetian paintings and the Rialto Bridge with its surrounding markets are all musts for the Venice visitor.
Venice is famous for its glassware, both good and bad glass, and has a reputation for quality. Traditional festivals are celebrated in most towns and villages in commemoration of local historical or religious events.
The year kicks off with the Regata delle Befana, the first of the lagoon city’s 100-plus regattas, held on 6 January (Epiphany).
The major event of the Venetian calendar is February’s bewigged, bemasked and berobed Carnevale, the event that’s spawned a million pastel postcards of pierrots and columbines looking unduly pensive.
In May there’s the Festa della Sensa (Feast of the Ascension), when Venice celebrates the Sposalizio del Mar (Wedding with the Sea).
The Biennale arts fest is held every odd-numbered year in June in the pavilions of the Giardini Pubblici. July’s Festa del Redentore is another highlight, with a regatta and fireworks festival.
The Venice International Film Festival, Italy’s version of Cannes, is held annually in August at the Palazzo della Mostra del Cinema on the Lido.
The Regatta Storica in September is a historic gondola race along the Grand Canal that’s well worth catching. November’s Festa della Madonna della Salute procession crosses the Grand Canal via a bridge of boats.