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It is probably the ubiquitous gondola that has marked Venice out as a must-go-to destination for dreamy-eyed romantics who wish nothing more than to drift along in an open boat, with a man in a stripy top singing them love songs. It is also home to some of the world's greatest art and architecture, and the other most common type of tourist is the one with the guide book and the steely determination to "tick" all the boxes of the sights they have seen. Stereotyping does not do justice to the magic and mystery of the sinking city, which has an indefinable appeal to all who ever step inside her watery domain. Venice is simply, utterly unique, and is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime. One big tip, if you have never been before, or even if you have, is to fly into Marco Polo airport and not Treviso. This way, you can take a water taxi into the city, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, Venice should be approached over water to fully appreciate its historical, and also its modern day, extreme beauty. To have a place built entirely on stilts which are sunk into a basin of silt, and to see it still standing there in all its glory is one of the wonders of the world.

Once you get into the rabbit warren that is the city proper, you have the choice of doggedly tracking down all the renaissance masterpieces, or wandering, getting lost, and soaking up the atmosphere. Probably a mixture of both is ideal. You can discover tiny trattorias down side alleys or unexpected treasures, like the Libraria Acquaa Alta, a bibliophile's delight, where the books are piled up in bathtubs to protect them from flooding, and even the stairs are made of books. As well as some of the stunning and celebrated works of art in almost every church and gallery you enter.

Of course, Venice can be very glitzy and nothing will ever beat the joy of a peach bellini at Harry's bar in the Piazza San Marco, but it is also possible to enjoy simpler pleasures that don't cost too much. Regular travellers to Italy will know that to eat standing at the bar (as the locals do) is much cheaper than sitting at a table, and this is ideal for breakfast, with a coffee and a pastry. In Venice, the speciality is a tortino di riso, a croissant full of rice pudding. While eating out is expensive, drinks are far less so, and prosecco is surprisingly affordable. Look for bacari, tiny bars that sell cicheti, anything from meatballs to crostini for a couple of euros.

Whether you are indeed lovers, or art lovers, or just Venice lovers, you will want to ride in one of those infamous gondolas, no matter how much they cost. The chance to glide into the tiniest canals and see the place at water level is just beautiful, and especially awesome if you go at night. The gondoliers are now equipped with GPS and Hi-Vis vests, going to show that even a place as ancient and venerable as Venice can adapt to the twenty first century.

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