The iconic image of Venezia is of a gondalier paddling his boat while a couple snuggles together in the front of the gondola. Venice is a city built on a series of over a hundred islands in a shallow lagoon, connected by hundreds of bridges. In fact, in the old city center the canals are the roads. Venice is the largest car free urban area in Europe.
But that's not what you'll be thinking when you take your first look down the Grand Canal, which forms the main waterway of the city, lined with the most incredible buildings, including the gorgeous 14th century's Palazzo Santa Sofia, aka Ca'd'Oro. Nor will you care about the fact that it is the largest city in the Italian northern region of Veneto, or that it was once an important Mediterranean naval port. You'll likely be drinking in the breathtaking city skyline of Venice.
This is one of those times when you have to just follow the crowd, and do what tourists have done for hundreds of years. Hop into a gondola, a water taxi, and take in the beautiful buildings and the history of the Venice canal. You'll end up in Piazza San Marco. You can spend the day exploring the square with the Palazzo Ducale, the Doge's Palace, Basilica di San Marco and the arcades with shops and cafes where you can spend your days, looking for treasures and stopping for a coffee.
If you want to do like the locals do, head to a Bacari, a wine bar, where you can sip your Ombra, the local name for a glass of white wine, or a Spritz, which is white wine with a spash of Campari and soda and Cicheti, and a tasty snack of meat, fish, vegetables or cheese. Venice is a major cultural center. For over a hundred years it has hosted one of the leading shows for the visual arts in the world, The Biennale. The annual event focuses on Architecture and Visual Arts; and Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre, in alternating years. Every September the Venice Film Festival draws filmmakers from around the world. And then there's the legendary Carnival, a ten day festival of music, parties and wild fun where people where masks and party in the streets in elaborate period costumes.