An orientation for first-time visitors
Are you planning your first trip to Venice, Italy? If so, this three-page introductory guide will make your task easier:
As you can see from the aerial photo, Venice is an island city: The centro storico or historic center is a tightly-integrated cluster of 117 small islands that are linked by some 410 footbridges. (Every time you cross a canal, you're stepping onto another island.)
The entire city center covers only about 1,800 acres or 725 hectares, which is a little more than twice the size of New York's Central Park or London's Hampstead Heath.
In the photo, Venice's centro storico (historic center) is connected to the Italian mainland suburb of Mestre by the Ponte della Libertà, a long causeway that was built early in the 19th Century. The causeway is on the left side of the photo, above the Tronchetto parking island and the Marittima cruise terminals.
The causeway carries road traffic to Venice's Piazzale Roma and Tronchetto. Railroad tracks run alongside the roadway and end at the Venezia Santa Lucia Station, which is visible as a grey spot where the road curves toward Tronchetto.
Other important islands near the historic center are La Giudecca (separated from the centro storico by the Giudecca Canal, which is used by cruise ships), San Michele (Venice's island cemetery), and the glassmaking island of Murano.
Next page: Picking the right hotel location
Aerial photo © iStockphoto/Frank van den Bergh.