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Wind down the romantic canals of Venice

31 AUGUST 2012 The film world has descended once more on the magical city of Venice for the 69th Venice Film Festival. But away from the glitz and glam of the red carpet exists the fantastic art and culture of one of Europe's oldest cities.

An engineering marvel, it's no wonder that this sinking city is listed as a unique world heritage site.

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Undeniably romantic, the city of water must be seen from the canals that meander their way to the heart of its vibrant atmosphere. Enter the doorsteps of the Grand Canal palaces and view the floating fruit and vegetable stalls from your very own Gondala.

Then pay homage to the the delectable produce of the lagoon. Find the legendary Italian gelato on every corner and feast your eyes on the foody delights whilst walking through the Rialto market.

Get a feel for authentic home-made Italian cooking at Enrica Roca's School where you can learn the zest for life and food from true Venetian blood. By the end you'll be addicted to this passionate way of cooking.

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If you're an art-lover Venice is the place to visit. Aside from the classic Accademia Gallery, which has by far the best collection of Venetian paintings from the 14th century onwards, you can find paintings from Picasso to Pollock at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Located on Venice's Grand Canal, the gallery hosts itself to modern masterpieces ranging in style from European Expressionism to Abstract Surrealism.

And when you have savoured all that Venice has to offer, take a tour of the islands by public waterbus.

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Visit fishing village Burano, with its multi-coloured houses, lace-making and typical Venetian biscuits. Head to Murano to create personalised souvenirs by getting involved in the process of its infamous glassblowing centres and to take some colourful Murano glass jewellery home.

What's not to be missed:

• The Basilica di San Marco is one of the city's most renowned churches
Doge's Palace rises out of the water with formidable stature
• Take in Venice from the heights of Campanile
• Attend a masquerade at Carnevale, the world's largest ball
• Get a taste for Venetian wines in Tenuta Scarpa Volo

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And where to stay:

Go to bed with the likes of George Clooney and Gwyneth Paltrow by staying at the Hotel Cipriani. Located on Giudecca Island the hotel remains an idyllic place free of the crowds, whilst only being a short boat-ride from the hustle and bustle of St Mark's Square.

Like the city itself, the five-star Centurion Palace hotel is fashionable in its combination of tradition and contemporary chic. Ideally positioned, guests are able to overlook the mouth of the Grand Canal.

For a more budget-friendly option, try Ca' Angeli, situated in the heart of Venice with the Rialto Bridge close by

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