Venice is located in northern Italy, and has a population of 271,663 (census estimate January 1, 2004). The city stretches across numerous small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. Together with Padua (Padova), the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). Venice's nicknames include "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light".
The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance.
Venice is world-famous for its canals. It is built on an archipelago of 122 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands on which the city is built are connected by about 400 bridges. In the old center, the canals serve the function of roads, and every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railway station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Beyond these land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains, as it was in centuries past, entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe's largest urban carfree area, unique in Europe in remaining a sizable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.
The classical Venetian boat is the gondola, although it is now mostly used for tourists, or for weddings, funerals, or other ceremonies. Most Venetians now travel by motorised waterbuses ("vaporetti") which ply regular routes along the major canals and between the city's islands. The city also has many private boats. The only gondolas still in common use by Venetians are thetraghetti, foot passenger ferries crossing the Grand Canal at certain points without bridges.
Venice is served by the newly rebuilt Marco Polo International Airport, or Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, named in honor of its famous citizen. The airport is on the mainland and was rebuilt away from the coast so that visitors now need to get a bus to the pier, from which a water taxi or Alilaguna waterbus can be used.
Sister Cities of Venice
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994)
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Suzhou, China (1980)
- Nuernberg, Germany (1999)
- Istanbul, Turkey (1993)
- Kedke, Greece (2000)
- Qingdao, China (2001)
- Thessaloniki, Greece (2003)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States (2007)