About the City
Venice is considered among the most beautiful and best preserved cities in the world, unique in the fact that it is the only city in the world built on water. The city owes the name La Serenissima, the most serene, to the fact that, throughout the city’s remarkably stable history, Venice favoured neutrality and peace whenever possible. Today, the city’s peaceful atmosphere is due to the complete absence of cars. Boats provide the only means of transport along a system of over one hundred and fifty canals. For those who prefer to explore the city on foot, more than 430 bridges connect the canals and streets or calli together.
Central Venice is divided into six sestieri, or administrative districts, three on each side of the Grand Canal. On the northern side is Cannaregio, to the east Castello and in the centre the San Marco sestiere, boasting the beautiful Piazza San Marco. Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro are on the southern side of the bank. San Giorgio Maggiore (the conference venue), Giudecca and Lido are separate islands, as are Torcello, Murano (where glass is produced), and Burano (where lace is historically made). There are over 100 islands on the lagoon, with an ever declining population of 60,000. Tourists swell this number to around 25 millions each year.
The Veneto region was part of the Roman Empire until the Barbarian invasions of the 5th and 6th centuries forced much of the population to retreat toward the coastline and marshy islands of the lagoon. The islands fell under Byzantine rule until 726, when the Venetians elected their first Doge and achieved autonomy. With a booming spice trade, luxury and ship building industries, Venice quickly became an important trading city and naval power. Despite recurring wars with Genoa and the Turks, Venice began to expand on mainland Italy and down the Eastern coast of the Adriatic. However, Venice was powerless to defend itself against Napoleon, and quickly fell under the rule of the punitive Austrian Empire. In 1866, Venice became part of the Italian state. Visit Venice Escape website for an in-depth guide through the history of Venice.
Further tourist information may be obtained by visiting any of the following sites. Ombra.net is a very useful site with detailed maps of the city.
Venice Word is an excellent, constantly up-dated guide to what’s on in Venice, plus all the usual tourist information.
A Guest in Venice has brief but up-to-date information on events in the city.
The official site of the Tourist Board of Venice is a useful source of practical information.
Invenicetoday is an good pictorial guide to the treasures of Venice.