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Let's Get Lost
Getting around Venice presents some unusual problems: the city's layout has few straight lines; house numbering seems nonsensical, referring to the sestiere, and not to the street itself; and the six sestieri of San Marco, Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, and San Polo all duplicate each other's street names. Since the sestiere carries the house number and forms part of the address, the street name itself frequently becomes irrelevant. In fact, unless a Venetian lives on a major thoroughfare, he or she may not even know the name of the street where he lives.
The numerous vaporetto lines can also be bewildering, and often the only option for getting where you want to go is to walk. Yellow signs, posted on many busy corners, point toward the major landmarks—San Marco, Rialto, Accademia, and so forth—but don't count on finding such markers once you're deep into residential neighborhoods. Even buying a good map at a newsstand—the kind showing all street names and vaporetto routes—won't necessarily keep you from getting lost.
Fortunately, as long as you maintain your patience and sense of adventure, getting lost in Venice can be a pleasure. For one thing, being lost is a sign that you've escaped the tourist throngs. And although you might not find the Titian masterpiece you'd set out to see, instead you could wind up coming across an ageless bacaro or a quirky shop that turns out to be the highlight of your afternoon. Opportunities for such serendipity abound. Keep in mind that the city is very self-contained: sooner or later, perhaps with the help of a patient resident, you're bound to regain your bearings.
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