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 Venice has a long and intimate history of links with the Balkans. The Republic controlled much of the Dalmatian coast and large parts of Greece between the 14th and 18th centuries. Its strength lay with maritime power based on the renaissance galley.

 Modern Venice retains much of its renaissance splendour. Its essential structure of canals and islands ensure that the city retains a character which is unique in Europe. However, for the military historian the sights are limited.

Most tourists arrive at the Piazza San Marco, the cityís famous square. The Palazzo Ducale (Dogeís Palace) is worth a visit. The map room where the Doge and the ruling council controlled the empire is interesting together with a good collection of arms and armour in the armoury.

 Turn left along the canal front, crossing four bridges and you come to the Museo Storico Navale (naval museum). This has one of the most absurd opening hours for a museum in Europe. It is open in the mornings Monday to Saturday and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Needless to say as I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon I didnít get in, but it apparently has models of Venetian war galleys and other exhibits covering Veniceís naval history. Close by is the Arsenale with its impressive gateway, home to the dockyards and naval base for the Venetian fleet.


If Venice offers little for the military historian, all is not lost. The Venetian hinterland offers a number of possibilities from a wide range of well preserved medieval castles, through renaissance fortresses to the Napoleonic battlefields of Rivoli and Castiglione. The Italian wars of unification focus on the battlefield of Solferino and the WW1 Italian front is close by in the Dolomites with spectacular and well preserved Austro-Hungarian fortresses around Trento. The museum at Rovereto is particularly good and the Caproni aircraft museum at Trento airport will interest aviation buffs. We based ourselves on Lake Garda at the pleasant medieval town of Malcesine. Highly recommended.


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Last modified: 01/23/12