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Venice is called La Serenissima, "the most serene," a reference to the majesty, wisdom, and impressive power of this city that was for centuries the unrivaled leader in trade between Europe and the Orient, and a major centre of European culture. Built entirely on water by a people who saw the sea as a defence and ally, Venice is unlike any other town. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could ever imagine.