"Venice is not merely a physical location but a place of the soul that lives in everyone. The sensation of warm familiarity and belonging that the city transmits to those who come, even for the first time, can be disorientating. It oozes from the stones, lies around every corner. Venice is not only beautiful: it is welcoming in its ancient power to captivate, which absorbs all cultures and makes one think that at some point in one's life, or perhaps beyond life itself, one has already sojourned here. It's probably true. Venice is a place of the soul."
"Making a good gondola is no easy task - seven different types of wood are employed to make 280 pieces for the hull alone, which must be asymmetrical. The left side has a greater curve to make up for the lateral action of the oar, and the cross section is skewed to the right to counterbalance the weight of the gondolier."
"In the 1530's Venice had about 11,000 registered prostitutes of a population of 120,000. In the late 15th century a city ordinance stipulated that ladies of the night should hawk bare-breasted. La serenissima was concerned that its men were increasingly turning to sodomy. Fearing for Venetian manhood, prostitution was encouraged and sodomy made punishable by death. Veronica Franco, one of the city's best known courtesans, didn't need to prowl the calli for business. Poet, friend of Tintoretto and lover of France's King Henry III, Miss Franco's costly services were in a class of their own and ranged from witty discourse to horizontal folk dancing."
-- "Best of Venice" (Lonely Planet)