A leisurely cruise along the “Canalazzo” from Piazza San Marco to the Ferrovia (train station), or the reverse, is one of Venice’s (and life’s) must-do experiences. Hop on the no. 1 vaporetto in the late afternoon (try to get one of the coveted outdoor seats in the prow), when the weather-worn colors of the former homes of Venice’s merchant elite are warmed by the soft light and reflected in the canal’s rippling waters, and the busy traffic of delivery boats, vaporetti, and gondolas that fills the city’s main thoroughfare has eased somewhat. The sheer number and opulence of the 200-odd palazzi, churches, and imposing republican buildings dating from the 14th to the 18th centuries is enough to make any boat-going visitor’s head swim. Many of the largest canal-side buildings are now converted into imposing international banks, government or university buildings, art galleries, and consulates.