Venice is the capital of the Veneto province. Venice is situated in a lagoon, there are 118 small islands there. This city and its lagoon are listed in the UNESCO Word Heritage Sites list. 260.897 people live in Venice, of whom around 55.000 live in the historical part of the city. The name comes from the ancient Veneti, the people that used to inhabit the region in the 10th century. Venice in the past was also called: “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Mask”, ”City of Canals”, “City of Water” ,”The floating City”. Venice has a lot of art treasures, especially from the Renaissance period. Music is also an important aspect of Venice, because it has an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music and also because Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice
The main monuments, bridges and traditions are:
-The Rialto Bridge: is the oldest of the four bridges in the Gran Canal. This bridge had two slanting ramps, so also tall ships can go under while people can walk over it. In one of Robert Browning poems, it’s called the Shylock bridge, after Shakespeare's character Shylock, from “The Merchant of Venice”. Construction works started in 1588 and ended in 1591. It connects the districts of San Marco and San Polo.
-St. Mark’ s Square: is the principal square of Venice; it’s the political, religious and social center of the city. This square is divided in two parts, the “piazza” and the “piazzetta”; “piazzetta “ is connected to the south of the “piazza” through the waterway of the lagoon, here we can find the Doge’s Palace to the east (which used to be the residence of the Doge of Venice) and Jacopo Sansovino’s library to the west. In the “piazza” there is the church of St Mark and beyond that is the Clock Tower, completed in 1499. To the left there is a big arch along the north side of the Piazza, the buildings on this side are known as the Procuratie Vecchie, the old procuracies, formerly the homes and offices of the Procurators of St. Mark, high officers of state in the days of the Republic of Venice.
-Gran Teatro La Fenice: is a theatre founded in 1792. In the nineteenth century, the theatre staged the world premieres of numerous operas, including Rossini’s Tancredi, Sigismondo and Semiramide, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi . There are many rooms, the most important are the “Sala Grande” and the “Sala Dante”. Sala Dante is a room inaugurated in 1865 on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the birth of Dante Alighieri and, to celebrate the event, the painter Giacomo Casa created a large composition with a big decorative ceiling frame, showing Italy in the act of crowning the great poet, and six tempera fresco paintings on the walls, with the same number of scenes from the Divine Comedy. “Sala Grande” is another elegant room used for balls, chamber music concert and conferences. Almost completely destroyed on the night of 29 January 1996, Sala Grande has been faithfully reconstructed from the original model. The floor, which is above the foyer, collapsed after a fire and only the corners were saved. Nowadays the floor and the walls are same of the past, with the same color and decorations.
-Murano Glass: this glass has been made for over 1,500 years, especially the Island of Murano, that is in the Venice lagoon. Since glass factories often suffered from fire accidents, this removed the possibility of a major fire disaster from the city. Venetian glassmakers developed secret methods for making glass, and the concentration of Venice's glassmaking on the island of Murano enabled better control of those secrets. The art of making glass became a job and slowly the glasses created by the merchant class dominated the Mediterranean Sea. The spread of glassmaking talent in Europe eventually diminished the importance of Venice and its Murano glassmakers.
-The carnival of Venice: is an annual festival that takes place in St. Marco's Square. The Carnival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival is world-famous for its elaborate masks. This festival was celebrated for the first time in 1162. Venetian masks can be made of leather, porcelain or using an original glass technique. The original masks were rather simple in design, decoration, and often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays, most Italian masks are made with the application of chalk and gold leaf and are hand-painted using natural feathers and gems to decorate them. However, this makes them rather expensive when compared to the widespread, low-quality masks produced mainly by American factories. This competition has accelerated the decline of this historical craftsmanship peculiar to the city of Venice. There are many characters represented by masks, for example: “Colombina”, is a half-mask, only covering the wearer's eyes, nose, and upper cheeks. It is often highly decorated with gold, silver, crystals, and feathers. The Colombina mask is named after a stock character in the Commedia dell'arte: Colombina was a maidservant and soubrette who was part of the Italian theatre for generations. Also “Arlecchino” is a very famous character, is a “Zanni “character of the Commedia, his originally wooden and later leather half-mask painted black depicts him as having a short, blunt, ape-like nose, a set of wide, round, arching eyebrows, a rounded beard, and always a "bump" upon his forehead meant to signify a devil's horn. He is a theatrical counterpoint to Pantalone, and the two characters often appeared together on stage.