In the sunlight on a happy summer day, Venice just might be the prettiest city ever. It has a sleepy, fairytale Old World quality about it because the thoroughfares are pedestrian-only and there are canals where you'd expect to see streets. Some people find their ancient murk and the fact that the city is actually sinking as the sea level rises to be a bit depressing, but most love its unique pace and storybook setting.Even on a first visit, Venice landmarks like the Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Ponte di Rialto seem familiar because they've been in so many movies, photographs, etc. There are countless monuments and churches, plus the incomparable Doge's Palace. But some of the most fun you can have in Venice is just walking its labyrinthine little streets Riva degli Schiavoni being the most touristy or cruising around via water taxi, which is the city's form of public transportation and ten times better than a bus.
A gondola ride along the watery “streets” of Venice is an experience that is not easily forgotten. Established 1,500 years ago on a thicket of islands in a marshy lagoon (a safe haven from the barbarian hordes), Venice grew into one of Europe’s most powerful centers of trade in the Middle Ages and through the Renaissance. This “white swan of cities,” as Longfellow called it, has profoundly inspired painters, musicians and writers, and Venice’s allure remains irresistible for the legions of visitors who come to ride the vaporetti (water buses) to the palaces along the Grand Canal, savor a glass of wine at piazza cafes, and marvel at the Byzantine splendor of St. Mark’s Basilica.