Venice has some of the greatest Renaissance art anywhere on planet Earth. Or so I'm told, You couldn't prove it by me. The pictures and sculpture are pretty, but I'm not equipped to appreciate any of it beyond Art 101, which I took forty years ago. (I own this as a personal failing).
On the other hand, Venice itself is the greatest work of art I've ever seen. And, in the way of great works of art it both moves and settles me, takes me out of myself and puts me back in more comfortably. I would rather walk through the streets of Venice than do almost anything else. Of course I'm talking about the pedestrian streets. The thoroughfares that serve as streets of Venice are the canals. I'd have to swim through them.
There are other cities as beautiful – Paris and Amsterdam, for example. But none allow you to be such an intimate part of them. This is partly because there aren't any cars (nor fumes nor noise) so the scale is more human (and the experience more quiet).
The canals of Venice are lovely and it's great fun riding the vaporetti, their "buses," but walking there is simply the greatest pleasure imaginable. As good as eating, nearly as good as sex and much easier to sustain for hours.
Most of the hundreds of small islands that make up the central part of Venice–the large connected mass of islands cut by the winding Grand Canal–are connected by bridges, from the large and famous Rialto Bridge to ones so small you don't even realize you've crossed them. When you wander the city you'll walk through an arch under one old stuccoed building, then pop out into a square with no water visible at all. Squeeze through an alley and find yourself suddenly on a wide walk beside the lagoon, the body of sea water that surrounds the city. Some thoroughfares are choked with bustle reminiscent of Fifth Avenue, sometimes even with the classy storefronts that belong there as well. Fifty feet away you might be the only person visible as you wind down a ten foot wide corridor that spits you out on a narrow walk beside the lagoon once again.
To my eye, the buildings, above their liquid foundations, don't look that different from the historic part of any old Italian city from Rome to Napoli. But the scale is seductive and the quiet is a pervasive thing, never available in the daylight anywhere else.
So go. Go to Venice. Save every dime. Survive on bread crusts you steal from restaurant tables. Do anything. But go. And when you get back, tell me what you think.