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Historical evidences suggest that refugees founded Venice. When Germanic tribes ravaged northern Italy in the 5th century, many mainlanders escaped to this difficult-to-access area on the Adriatic Sea. Over the centuries the refugee community grew into the most powerful trading port in the Mediterranean. At its peak, Venice counted 3.000 trade ships and 300 navy vessels. After Napoleon's fall, it became part of the Austrian Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, but after the uprising in 1848, the city reached its independence once again. Shortly after, in 1866, Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. 1932 saw the opening of the motor and rail bridge between Venice and the mainland, which led this city to come out on top as a tourist destination. It is hard to navigate around the city, but don’t let that put you off, as this is part of Venice’s charm. Leave the other tourists at St Mark’s square and the Rialto Bridge and explore the maze-like little neighbourhoods instead. The most interesting areas and islands are Cannaregio, SanPolo/Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello.
Venice is the only city of its type in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site representing a cultural absolute, demanding preservation and transmission to future generations. The whole city is a unique sight in itself, and to enjoy its exceptional beauty, the best way to explore it is by foot.
Venice has a large variety of restaurants. As usual with Italian cities, the best dining experience can be enjoyed at a simple neighbourhood trattoria off the tourist rabble. Venice has many culinary specialities, like bigoli in anchovy and mushroom sauce, or castraure—tiny artichokes with Parmesan shavings and olive oil. Make sure to always look at the bottom of the menu to see if a service fee is added to your bill. "Service included" or "12% added/charged" means that another 12% of the total cost will be added to your bill. "Non cover" means no service fee will be included in the price and there will be no additional charge.
When it comes to cafés in Venice, you can find the best value places located a couple of blocks away from main tourists strips. Stay alert while taking a stroll and find your own favorite café!
Venice has many good bars, primarily in the Dorsoduro district, but it is not a party scene city. Youngsters and party-seekers often hop over to Venice’s modern sister city, Mestre, on the mainland. In summer, they prefer to travel to the seaside town of Jesolo, where they can enjoy tanning and swimming.
If you are after high fashion shops, they are located at Via XXII Marzo and neighbouring streets. Via XXII Marzo stretches from St. Mark Square towards Academia, where you will find renowned brands like Prada, Valentino, Etro, Chanel and Gucci. There are also several banks and currency exchange offices in this area. Browse Venice’s boutiques and take in the atmosphere of the city.
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