Venice, Italian Venezia, city, major seaport, and capital of both the province of Venezia and the region of Veneto, northern Italy. An island city, it was once the centre of a maritime republic. It was the greatest seaport in late medieval Europe and the continent’s commercial and cultural link to Asia. Venice is unique environmentally, architecturally, and historically, and in its days as a republic the city was styled la serenissima (“the most serene” or “sublime”). It remains a major Italian port in the northern Adriatic Sea and is one of the world’s oldest tourist and cultural centres.
The best-known form of transport on the waterways of Venice is the gondola. Today there are only several hundred of these unique, keelless boats left, and they have long been outnumbered by other vessels. But their elegant, sleek shape and gleaming black paintwork have made them a symbol of Venice. Many writers have described the romance of Venice by gondola, and many tourists are still willing to pay high prices to be rowed at twilight through the canals to the singing of a gondolier.