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The Insight / Discovery Channel guide to Venice is an extremely comprehensive guide to the city: it includes a section detailing Venice's history, notes about the Venetian people themselves, 13 features covering aspects of the city's life and culture, ranging from Venetian cuisine to La Fenice Opera house to the Venice of Giacomo Casanova. The main body of the book is a visitor's guide to the sights and the guide finishes with a comprehensive Travel Tips section packed with essential contact addresses and numbers. The book also includes 14 maps and hundreds of photographs.
I bought this guide in preparation for spending three months in Venice last autumn and found it very useful for getting an idea of Venetian culture and life. The guide is extremely readable and I read much of it before actually setting off for Venice. One of the best things about the guide is the amazing photography on almost every page - it gives the would-be traveller a really good idea of the atmosphere of Venice and, equally, is extremely interesting and evocative for those who know and love La Serenissima.
The first 120 pages or so are worth reading before going to Venice as they present a sensitive and engaging portrait of the city and introduce the reader to aspects of Venetian history which help them understand the city and its people better. The sections on art and architecture provide interesting details about some of the main and lesser sights in the city and the section called 'saving the city' really highlights the fragility of Venice in the face of both human and natural forces.
The main guide to the sights is logically organised by the 6 different districts (Sestiere) of Venice: San Marco, Cannareggio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo and Santa Croce, and also includes sections on the Grand Canal and the islands around Venice including Giudecca, The Lido, Murano and Burano. This is a very good way of organising it because it allows the visitor to select a number of things to see in a certain area rather than trailing back and forth over the city in search for churches or museums that are actually quite close to each other.
The maps included in the guide are useful but they do not detail all the streets in the city and it is also annoying to have to keep flicking through the book to find the next map when you come to the border of each sestiere. It would probably be beneficial to buy a cheap plan of the city rather than to solely rely on the maps in this guide.
The main disadvantage to what I think overall is a superb guide is that, at 350 pages long, on good quality paper, and quite big in general, it is cumbersome to carry and likely to get damaged. This is a book to buy before travelling out to Venice: read it at home and in the hotel, devour the (voluminous) information about the city that it has to offer, or even just browse the stunning photography. In terms of portability, however, you would probably be better buying a lighter, more compact and cheaper guide to direct you round this labyrinth of a city. Yet, for both lovers of Venice and first-time travellers, in it's ability to evoke the essence of the city and its people, the Insight guide remains effectively unchallenged.
Today is the 27th of September and it is an historical day for me because after years this is my first comment.Why? bacause I am Italian from Portogruaro 60km from Venice where I go canoeing even in Canal Grande!Iam looking for somebody who helps me in constructing a web site.it will be mostly in English because for students of English.My English is not perfect because I am not mother tongue but my Italian is really excellent.So we could change help.52 years old teacher but my students are younger than me!If you are interested visit web site michelesim.too.it and get in touch!! bye for now
baby_uk 08.09.2005 21:43
Sounds like a good guide to check out if I ever get the chance to visit Venice x
Lucie_S1984 10.07.2005 22:35
Never visited here but it's on my list of places to go, be good to know the price of the guide then I'll re-rate! Lucie xxx
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