IntroductionVenice (vĕnˈĭs) [key], Ital. Venezia, city (1991 pop. 309,422), capital of Venetia and of Venice prov., NE Italy, built on 118 alluvial islets within a lagoon in the Gulf of Venice (an arm of the Adriatic Sea). The city is connected with the mainland, 2.5 mi (4 km) away, by a rail and highway bridge. Between the islands run about 150 canals, mostly very narrow, crossed by some 400 bridges. The Grand Canal, shaped like a reversed letter S, is the main traffic artery; its chief bridge is the Rialto, named after the island that was the historical nucleus of Venice. Gondolas, the traditional means of transport, have been superseded by small river boats ( vaporetti ), but there are numerous lanes ( calles ), public squares, and a few streets. Houses are built on piles.
Venice is a tourist, commercial, and industrial center. The tourist trade is stimulated by many annual festivals, including ones devoted to painting, motion pictures, drama, and contemporary music. The Venice Biennale, which exhibits various kinds of modern art every other year, has been held there since 1895. Manufactures include lace, jewelry, flour, and Murano glass, and the city is a center for shipbuilding. Porto Marghera, the modern port of Venice (founded in the 1920s), located on the mainland, is a major shipping facility and also has considerable industry.
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