Venice is home to Vivaldi, glass blowing, the birth of the Renaissance art movement, and of course, the masked Carnival. This north-eastern city of Italy and capital of Veneto, sits on 180 small islands connected by canals and bridges, and has enjoyed immense wealth throughout its history, both as a powerful maritime nation and a hub of commerce.
Venice had the economy to support art and artists, and support them it did. As a major port of trade, it easily found ready markets for the plethora of decorative arts the Venetian craftsmen produced.
Modern times paint a different picture, however. In recent years, the Venetian population has fallen so drastically that in 2009, locals staged a mock funeral for a city on the brink of becoming little more than a tourist mecca.
Even so, today in Murano you’ll find the art of glassblowing is alive and well. Meanwhile Venice’s livelier districts, evocative of days gone by, can be found in its six central districts (sestieri).
Dorsoduro, for one, houses some of the most picturesque canals and palazzi, and boasts fabulous art showcases. The district’s hub is Campo Santa Margherita. In the daytime you can enjoy a bustling market, children playing, antique stalls, locals walking dogs, a supermarket and cafes. In the evening the Campo becomes Venice's liveliest nightspot.
If you’re moving here, prepare to shift down several gears. The pace of life is unhurried and cars are of another world, so relax and adjust to a rhythm of life based around walking, water taxis and vaporetti (small barges).
Lounging in cafes on Venice’s famous piazza’s relaxing to the strains of small orchestras, strolling along the Zattere (a long promenade along Venice's southern shore), and appreciating the bounty stowed in Venice's great art gallery, the Academia, are just a handful of pleasures that Venetian living has to offer.
What is special or unique about your city?
118 islands, 150 canals, over 400 bridges make Venice unique. Venice is very well known worldwide and full of history and art. You will get great pleasure from walking around the town, along the canals and you will be overwhelmed with history and character.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Newcomers usually take some weeks to get used to the fact that no car, motorbikes or bicycle can be used around Venice. Once you get to know the town, you will enjoy the silence especially in the evening, when most of the tourist will have left.
Are these impressions likely to change?
You will get yourself organised quickly and learn how to live in this beautiful town.
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Younger people may understand English and will try to help you out. However, when dealing with bureaucratic tasks involving the Italian Government such as immigration, knowledge of Italian is absolutely necessary. In addition, many day-to-day documents, such as banking forms, are usually available in Italian only.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Italian people are friendly and easy-going, but avoid making stereotypical references - for example, about all Italian people being associated with the mafia, or eating pizza and macaroni every day.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Summers can be very hot and humid, so when walking around the city it is a good idea to bring a bottle of water, and wear a hat. Autumn and winter are not exceptionally cold, but you may get "high water" which means that most of the roads and squares in Venice will be flooded, so you will need to wear a pair of wellies to go around.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Venetians are very proud of the place they live and expect you to respect their culture and their town.