Over the centuries the refugee community grew in to the most powerful trading port in the Mediterranean. At its peak, Venice had 3.000 trade ships and 300 navy vessels. After the fall of Napoleon, Venice was ruled by the Austrians, but after the 1848 uprising, the city once again gained its independence. Shortly after, in 1866, Venice became part of Italy. 1932 saw the opening of the motor and rail bridge between Venice and the mainland, which was to be the start of Venice as a tourist destination.
It is hard to navigate around the city, but don’t let that put you off, as this is part of Venice’s charm. Leave the other tourists at St Mark’s square and the Rialto Bridge and explore the labyrinth of little neighbourhoods instead. The most interesting areas and islands are Cannaregio, SanPolo/Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Marco and Castello.