Venice is unique among all great cities of the world in that its streets are full of water. Made up of 118 islands only two to four feet above sea level, crisscrossed by 117 canals, and connected by some 360 bridges, its main avenue is the curving Grand Canal, its buses the vaporetti. There is no other city in the world of this size and sophistication where the automobile is absent. The richness, color, light, texture, and history create a scene of overwhelming beauty. During the middle ages, Venice became a world maritime power connecting the Occident and the Orient, accumulating in the process immense wealth that is celebrated in art and architecture through the city. The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world's greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others. While the glories of the past are evident at every turn, the outlying neighborhoods and islands are still animated by a villager lifestyle which must have been unchanged through the centuries. Venice its Lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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