Venice is a celebrated city and very rightly so. It is very romantic because of its breathtaking canals and palaces. A cruise down the Grand Canal will very likely be one of life's most unforgettable experiences. On a practical note, the city forms a governmental unit of Italy called a commune. The islands of Venice form the historic centre of the city. Marghera and Mestre are the modern industrial centers on the mainland and they are also part of the commune of Venice.
A lagoon separates the islands of Venice from the mainland. A roadway over the lagoon carries traffic between the mainland and two of the islands. Automobiles, buses and trains use terminals on those islands. More than 150 canals take the place of streets on all the islands of Venice and fundamentally boats provide transportation. Black flat bottomed boats called gondolas once served as the chief means of transportation on the islands. Today, motorboats have replaced most of the gondolas. More than 400 bridges cross the canals and link the main islands of Venice. A network of narrow alleyways called calli run between the buildings on the islands.