Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.
The Gothic pink-and-white-marble Doge’s Palace sits on the east side of the piazza. Before the Christian holiday of Lent, this area becomes the epicenter of Venice’s Carnival, where partygoers dress in elaborate masks and costumes. A gondola ride away are the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, an influential gallery of modern art, and the Galleria dell’Accademia, a museum of Renaissance-era and Vedutisti paintings. The covered Rialto foot bridge leads to a market that supplies many of the city’s fish-focused Venetian restaurants.