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Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition: 

"(vn´s), Ital. Venezia, city (1991 pop. 309,422), capital of Venetia and of Venice prov. It is located in NE Italy, built on 118 alluvial islets within a lagoon   in the Gulf of Venice (an arm of the Adriatic Sea). The city is connected with the mainland, 4 km (2.5 miles) away, by a rail and highway bridge.  The Grand Canal(Map E-5 ), shaped like a reversed letter "S" which snakes through the islands, is the main traffic artery; its chief bridge is the Rialto(Map G4 ), named after the island that was the historical nucleus of Venice. Gondolas, the traditional means of transport, have been superseded by small river boats (vaporetti )."

Venice is a synthesis of over 100 little communities or neighborhoods on each little island. Between the islands run about 150 canals, mostly very narrow  (rii (pl.), rio), crossed by some 400 bridges (ponte)  connect these communities; each generally with its own church (chiesa), from which is the public square (Campi (pl.), Campo)  forming the nucleus containing a water well (pozzo), and around the square are the homes (casa or ca') with shops ( bottega) often inhabiting the first floors and the residences on the second. The grand stately palaces (palazzi (pl.) palazzo) built by the historically wealthy Venetian merchant families, all have their main entrance onto the canals, however the means of transportation for most natives is the small narrow pedestrian paths and alleys (calli (pl.) , calle). Given the relative instability of the ground, the houses are all built on wood piles -- many are more than 400 years old.

Points of Interest 
The center of animation in Venice, and where everyone always goes when they visit, is St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco(Map G5 ) and the Piazzetta , which leads from the square to the lagoon . On the square are St. Mark’s Church (Basilica San Marco); the Gothic Doges’ Palace (Palazzo Ducale 14th–15th cent.) , from which the Bridge of Sighs (c.1600)  leads to the former ruling court to the prisons; the Old and New Law Courts (16th–17th cent.); the campanile (the tallest tower in Venice, 10th cent.) ; the Moors’ Clocktower (late 15th cent.) ; the elegant Old Library (1553) ; St. Moses’ Church; and the twin columns supporting the statues of St. Theodore stepping on a crocodile and of a winged lion of St. Mark (the emblem of Venice). The island facing the Piazzetta is the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore  (1566–1610)  and on a nearby tip of land is the Church of Santa Maria della Salute (17th cent.).

Other points of interest are the church Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari  (with paintings by Titian), San Zanipolo (1234–1430), and San Zaccaria (with a Madonna by Bellini); The Academia , with fine paintings by Bellini, Carpaccio, Mantegna, Giorgione, Veronese, and others; the Scuola di San Rocco , with a series of paintings by Tintoretto; the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista ; the Scuola degli Schiavoni, with paintings by Carpaccio; and the palaces Ca’ d’Oro  (1440; late Gothic), Rezzonico(1680), and Pesaro (1710; baroque). The fashionable beach resort of Lido di Venezia is on a nearby island.

Now take a look atSargent's connection to Venice

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By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 11/8/2000 Updated 12/18/2005