Venice, Italy's "City of Canals" has been described as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". It is certainly on most tourists' wish list to visit. Built on 117 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon of the Adriatic Sea, it has an estimated population of 272,000 and even more tourists, but it still manages to retain its romantic charm. As the centre for the silk, grain and spice trade from the 13thto the 17thcentury under the rule of the Doges, it became a very wealthy city and the architecture and Renaissance artworks reflect this.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Venice when temperatures are between 5-15C (41-59F). Summers are hot and the city is very crowded. Venice is traffic-free and easy to explore on foot or by water taxis known as "vaporetti" which are much cheaper than traditional gondolas. The churches, palaces, bridges and museums make this a wonderful living museum to explore.

St Mark's Basilica is the main attraction in Venice and, unlike other churches, is free to enter but the museum, high altar and treasury charge a small admission. There are superb views of Venice from the top of the bell tower and the nearby Astronomical Clock is fascinating. Also on St Mark's Square is the magnificent Doge's Palace and the guided tour is well worth taking.

Art lovers will not want to miss the Peggy Guggenheim Museum which was a personal art collection amassed by the American heiress. However the most significant art museum in Venice is the Galleria dell'Accademia. Many of the churches have their own artworks and frescoes such as those at the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. Wandering the narrow streets, exploring small souvenir shops and eating at pavement cafés are all part of the pleasure of discovering Venice for yourself.

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