Venice is a sanctuary on a lagoon that is virtually the same as it was 600 years ago, which adds to the fascinating character. Venice has decayed since its heyday and suffers from overtourism, but the romantic charm remains. It is also known as the birthplace of composers Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi. Venice and its lagoon are a UNESCO World Heritage site. It used to be an independent republic, and remains one of Italy's most important cities, with a quarter million inhabitants.
The comune (municipality) of Venice is made up of many islands in the Venetian Lagoon and a stretch of terraferma (mainland) in northern Italy. The comune is divided into six boroughs, the most famous of which (known as Venezia Insulare) comprises the historic city of Venice as well as the islands of Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Mazzorbo and Sant'Erasmo. Lido and Mestre are other popular areas of the commune.