Bridge and canal, Venice, Italy Large Tote Bag
Venice (Italian: Venezia, Venetian: Venezsia, Latin: Venetia) is a city in northern Italy, the capital of region Veneto, and has a population of 271,251 (census estimate January 1, 2004). Together with Padua, the city is included in the Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area (population 1,600,000). Venice's nicknames include "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Bridges", and "The City of Light". The city stretches across numerous small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers. The population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 62,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (literally firm land, the areas outside the lagoon), mostly in the large frazione of Mestre and Marghera; and 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon. The Venetian Republic was a major sea power and a staging area for the Crusades, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially the spice trade) and art in the Renaissance. Ironically, though, the city-state lost much of its power and importance due to the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire, which Venice helped to destroy. This was because Turkish control of the Eastern Mediterranean gave the European maritime powers an incentive to find trade routes elsewhere.