Venice is a city located in Italy, in the south of Western Europe. It is best known for its beauty, architecture, and art. Its historical buildings and canals are what most people know of Venezia but the city is rich in a unique culture and lifestyle shaped by its location in the middle of a lagoon and centuries of a unique political and economic history. Often called the Serenissima, after the successful Republic which governed the city, Venice has always been a favorite of artists. Many habits, words, and things currently part of our daily life were born in this small but immensely important city.
Venice is a great place to visit year-round. The cooler winter temperatures are pleasant for sightseeing. Venice is an important tourist destination for its celebrated art and architecture. The city gets up to 60,000 tourists per day (2017 estimate). Estimates as to the annual number of tourists vary from 22 million to 30 million. Tourism has been a major part of the Venetian economy since the 18th century when Venice—with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage—was a stop on the Grand Tour. In the 19th century, Venice became a fashionable center for the "rich and famous", who often stayed and dined at luxury establishments such as the Danieli Hotel and the Caffè Florian, and continued to be a fashionable city into the early 20th century.
Venice is regarded by some as a tourist trap, and by others as a "living museum". Unlike most other places in Western Europe, and the world, Venice has become widely known for its element of elegant decay. The competition for foreigners to buy homes in Venice has made prices rise so high that numerous inhabitants are forced to move to more affordable areas of Veneto and Italy.
Venice is a city of small islands, enhanced during the Middle Ages by the dredging of soils to raise the marshy ground above the tides. The resulting canals encouraged the flourishing of a nautical culture which proved central to the economy of the city. Today those canals still provide the means for transport of goods and people within the city.
Venetian cuisine is characterized by seafood, but also includes garden products from the islands of the lagoon, rice from the mainland, game, and polenta. Venice is not known for a peculiar cuisine of its own: it combines local traditions with influences stemming from age-old contacts with distant countries.