Venice, Italy

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Cruising to Venice

A bridge to the past

Known as the City of Bridges, Venice is as famous for the structures that link the two banks of the Grand Canal as it is for the way in which it seems to bridge the gap between the past and the present. At first glance, the city appears to be stuck in the Renaissance period, with gondoliers in traditional stripy shirts navigating their way around the spectacular palaces and churches that abound here. Delving deeper into the city's intricate network of calli – or alleyways – you'll find an intoxicating blend of museums and galleries containing a mix of classic and modern artifacts, and with more masterpieces per square metre than any other city on Earth, it's hard not to fall in love with Venice's charm.

Among the main attractions is of course the Grand Canal itself, with bridges like the iconic Ponte de Rialto – which was constructed in the 16th century – acting as vantage points from which to watch the boats drift pass. On any given day of the year you're likely to see all manner of aquatic vessels floating along the canal, although by visiting on the first Sunday of September you could have the chance to witness one of Venice's most exhilarating annual festivals – the Regata Storica. This is the largest rowing race to take place on the canal each year, and commemorates the aquatic display that the city put on to welcome the Cypriot queen Caterina Cornaro, after she renounced her thrown in favour of Venice in 1489.

Other major landmarks that shouldn't be missed include the Basilica di San Marco, which can be found in the Piazza San Marco. Aside from marvelling at the Italo-Byzantine architecture, visitors can also catch a glimpse of the famous gilded bronze horses for which the church is famous.

If it's art you're into, meanwhile, then you'll find an amazing array of classical and contemporary masterpieces in Venice. Perhaps the best place to start is at the Gallerie dell’Accademia, which is one of the most prestigious galleries in the world and contains pieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, among many others. For something a little more modern, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum is one establishment that needs no introduction, and features works from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and many more.

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