Venice, the city without roads, has some of the most modern garages to be found anywhere. Motorists can enter Venice on a two-mile bridge crossing the Venetian Lagoon. The first buildings seen are the garages, seven-story blocks of steel, concrete and glass. Only two of Venice’s 118 islands can be reached by auto. For the other 116 you walk, take a water-bus, or a gondola (very expensive).
Do not expect to lie back in peace and quiet listening to the laments of a gondolier. It’s against union rules. If you want music you hire a singer and instrumentalist. The canals are busy, complete with traffic lights and once in a while traffic jams. The Grand Canal is two-and-a-half miles long and eighty yards wide. Most of the rest of the 150 canals are narrow and often smelly.
In summer, some days bring 100,000 visitors to Venice, the majority of whom board a vaporetto, so-called because they were once steam driven. These 150-seat boats carry passengers up and down the Grand Canal to the Piazza San Marco and to and around the Arsenal and the architectural wonders of Venice. Some boats head toward the Adriatic Sea with stops at the beaches of the Lido.
Florence, first among Italian renaissance cities, dominated and ornamented by the Medici family, is the art lover’s Mecca, exemplar of what was best in Renaissance art. Florence is the number one choice of Americans interested in the painting, sculpture and architecture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
FIGURE 5.13 One of the world’s best known tourist gathering spots is San Marcos Square in Venice, Italy.
Source: Italian Government Travel Office.