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In Venice everything floats. Not only the gondolas, launches, barges and vaporettos on the Grand Canal, but the people as well.

The 118 islands of central Venice are divided into six seemingly arbitrary districts known as sestieri, and houses are numbered in a sequence that makes sense only to postal workers.

The sestieri of San Marco is where the majority of essential sights are, and is accordingly the most expensive and crowded part of the city.

The places that draw the largest crowds are St. Mark’s Square, which absorbs them beautifully; the Basilica di San Marco, a mosaic-clad emblem of Venice's Byzantine origins; and the Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, perhaps the finest of all secular Gothic buildings.

Some outstanding examples of Italian Renaissance art can be found in Venice. At the Scuola di San Rocco there is a sequence of pictures by Tintoretto, and the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is decorated with a gorgeous sequence by Carpaccio.