Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Venice - Five Things

Ahh...the romance of Venice. The mysterious canals, hidden corners, and artistic treasures make it easy to fall in love with one of Italy's most picturesque cities. Famous for its Carnivale, Venice has much to offer travelers all year round.

Venice in the soft light of early morning. Photo: Jessica Engler

Venice in the soft light of early morning Photo: Jessica Engler

Here are five things you might not know about Venice:

— The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 in recognition of its architectural integrity and for the presence of some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese.

— The Doge's Palace was not only the seat of Venetian goverment until the Napoleonic conquest, its design has been imitated around the world. Let us know if Romania's central rail station or the Scottish National Portrait Gallery look familiar.

— The island of Murano, in the Venetian lagoon, is famous for it's glass-making. It wouldn't be, though, if Venetian authorities hadn't ordered the city's glassmakers to move there to reduce the risk of fire.

— Ever wonder why certain window coverings are called "Venetian Blinds?" Venetian gondolas once had small cabins with louvered shutters to afford privacy, important in a city where there were once eight to ten thousand of the boats in use. Today's gondoliers must be admitted to a guild and pass a stringent licensing exam.

— The Venetians love their appetizers and small plates. Visit a local pub in the city and enjoy fried mozzarella, artichoke hearts, or one of an endless variety of topped crostini.

What else do you know about Venice? Please share!

If you're ready to lose yourself in the winding streets and explore the islands of the Venetian Lagoon, click here for travel to Venice with Smithsonian Journeys.